How it all began
Changing the world one backpack at a time. I was going through my pictures of my first mission trip and subsequent trips. There is a picture of me carrying an AIDS orphan who was in an orphanage that we had visited. We learned that the baby was 2 months old and had lost both parents.
Each time I went, I saw children walk to school carrying their books and school supplies in their hands or in plastic bags because they could not afford backpacks. This really bothered me. As I watched these children, my heartfelt saddened. I wondered, for how long can they carry on? I wondered what would happen to their books when it rained. I thought about how blessed we the Kids in America are!!! Every school year, our parents buy us new backpacks even if the one from the previous year is still in good condition.
Every time, I left Cameroon, I prayed and hoped that things would change for these children. I hoped that when next I went back, I would see children walking to school with their books in their backpacks. But when I came back, it was exactly the same way as I had left it. Is there any hope for them? when will this change? I asked myself over and over.
At age five, after our mission trip, I came back home and asked my mom to buy me a piggy jar, I would put whatever money everyone gave me into this piggy jar, my plan was to use this money to buy backpacks for my brothers and sisters in Cameroon. I did not know how much the backpacks would cost. By the time we were leaving for Cameroon, I had $175 in my piggy bank. I thought this would be able to buy backpacks for all the children in Cameroon. I was disappointed when I realized that I could only get about 12 backpacks. I knew that if I bought the backpacks, not all the children will be able to get a backpack. I did not want a child to not to have a backpack. So I decided to get notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, and erasers so that each child would at least receive a notebook, a pen, a ruler, a pencil, eraser, and sharpener. I still knew inside me, that I needed to do something to help these children get backpacks.
I had a dream
Then I had a dream, and thank God, I had the support of my teacher, my principal, staff and the support of the entire student body. When I was in the 3rd, grade, (age 8) I had returned from another trip, I decided to share my story with my teacher, my classmates, and my school principal. My principal asked me to go from class to class sharing my story. So for a week, during my lunch time, my teacher would escort different classrooms and I would share my story. In the end, the school decided to do a drive to collect backpacks and school supplies for the kids in Cameroon. I, however, challenged them to come to school for a day without their backpacks, carrying their books and school supplies in their hands or in plastic bags so as to have a better understanding of what it means for a child walking to school carrying their books in their hands or in plastic bags. On February 12th, 2012, No BackPack Day was launched at my elementary school. I was so happy to see not only the support of my classmates but the entire school body rallied behind this project. Our school caught the attention of the local TV channel who played it on the news. By the end of that week, we had other schools reaching out to us because they wanted their schools to be a part of it. By the end of the school year, 8 schools in Charlotte NC had participated in the No backpack day project and more than 500 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated for children in Cameroon. On July 2nd, 2012, my mom, myself and some other friends left for a mission trip to Cameroon where we distributed all those backpacks filled with school supplies to some well deserving children.