Chicago and Cape Town Collaboration helps Capture History

By Reverend Berry Behr, 2021 Global Fellow, South Africa

A collaboration between two DePaul University students and the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative (CTII) has yielded a rare treasure – funding for the recording of an important personal account from an interfaith stalwart as part of our efforts to capture an oral history of the interfaith movement in South Africa.

Three icons of Cape Town Interfaith history: Rev. Gordon Oliver, Imam Rashied Omar and Bishop Thebekile Gqwaka laying a wreath for Archbishop Tutu in December 2021

As part of the DePaul students Intro to Non-Profit Management course at DePaul University with Professor John Zeigler, these students were inspired to volunteeer to support this project across the globe when they heard about CTII’s Oral History Project. The students asked how they could help, and learned that each oral history recording costs in the region of USD500. So they immediately set to work, creating a GoFundMe campaign and reaching out to their friends and family.

Within just a couple of weeks, DePaul students Jenna Dahbur and Reese Elledge had raised enough to fund a recording for the archives of the significant interfaith work that contains many lessons of harmony, understanding and collaboration between diverse religious leaders in Cape Town.

“These oral history testimonies capture the interfaith efforts to end apartheid from those leaders on the front lines. We can preserve their stories that teach us so much about ending regimes of discrimination and the healing of communities from the wounds of separation.”

Dan Swartz (deceased August 2020), Imam Rashied Omar, Prof John Zeigler and Wilfred Alcock (deceased Jan 2020)

In a beautiful twist of destiny, the funds will be used to record the story of Imam Rashied Omar who not only lectures at Notre Dame in the US and therefore contributes to the global body of knowledge on interfaith engagement, but is also a long-time friend of the Goldin Institute and an associate of Professor Ziegler who facilitated the collaboration between the students and CTII.

CTII looks forward to further collaboration with DePaul University students and is extremely grateful for their significant contribution.