The weekend before finals last December, LSA junior Moustafa Moustafa wasn’t studying for his anatomy exam that Monday. He was driving a rental truck to Chicago through a snowstorm.
The truck contained medical supplies that the interfaith campus group Children of Abraham had collected and Moustafa was rushing to get the supplies on a container bound for Iraq.
The group, which includes Muslim, Jewish and Christian students from the Muslim Students’ Association, Hillel and St. Mary’s Student Parish, spends thousands of hours collecting and sorting recently expired or unwanted medical supplies to ship to clinics overseas.
For Moustafa, who founded the group on campus two and a half years ago after being inspired by a group of the same name based in Indiana, service to the poor and sick is central to his Muslim faith. But faith isn’t the only reason students volunteer with the group.
“We are handling the very supplies that might have the potential to save lives or ease suffering abroad, so I think people are drawn to that intimacy,” Moustafa said.
Working out the logistical details like finding cheap warehouse space close to campus, devising a system to sort thousands of different supplies and fundraising was a challenge in getting the project off the ground, he said.
This summer, the group shipped a container full of about a million dollars worth of medical supplies to Tanzania, and last weekend, they sealed a container bound for clinics in Ghana.
Moustafa, who was recently honored with a Michigan Leadership Award, credits the group’s success to its interfaith nature because the diversity of the group’s members has given it a far-reaching base for networking. In order to put campus diversity to use, student groups must engage each other, he said.
To illustrate the point, Moustafa quoted an analogy from the Interfaith Youth Core, a national group that Moustafa belongs to that promotes religious pluralism: “Diversity is like a bunch of different people on an elevator together. They’re just there. Pluralism is them working together.”