Metro Vancouver, B.C. — On a visit to Somalia in 2008, Mohamed Ahmed was struck by what he saw:
“I’ve seen so many things – all of these people had nothing,” says Ahmed, who moved to Canada from Somalia 15 years ago. “No food, no water, no shelter.”
The experience prompted Ahmed, a graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s electrical program, to found the DEEQ African Foundation Society (DAFS), which collects clothes, shoes and small pieces of luggage from Lower Mainland residents and distributes them in Somalia.
Initially when he established DAFS as a charity in July, Ahmed was responding to calls and picking up all the donations himself. As the charity grew, however, Ahmed couldn’t keep up with demand and needed a more efficient way to collect and store the clothing, shoes and bags.
“When I was in the electrical program at KPU, the carpentry students were just down the hall and I knew they would be able to build something for the foundation,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed turned to the teachers and students at the KPU trades and technology campus in Cloverdale, who agreed to build several large charity drop boxes to help some of Africa’s poorest citizens. The boxes will be placed outside shopping malls, schools, mosques and churches in Surrey and Richmond.
“Any real-life experience with the tools is beneficial to the students, and the fact that we’re contributing to a humanitarian effort at the same time is an even bigger bonus,” says carpentry instructor Alan Rumpel.
The society expects to make its first shipment of donated items to Somalia by the end of the year.
Ahmed and other members of B.C.’s Somali community will share their experiences and insight about the struggles of Somalis both in Canada and Somalia at an upcoming community forum, Pathway to Empowerment, at KPU’s Surrey campus, 12666 72nd Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The forum is sponsored by the Somali Community of B.C., KPU and Mosaic. The public is welcome.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses — Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley — offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 18,000 students annually have a choice from over 145 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
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Caption: KPU electrical grad Mohamed Ahmed (top) partnered with current KPU carpentry students to have the students build donation collection boxes for the DEEQ African Foundation Society (DAFS).
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