It’s always a pleasure to meet someone who is doing good things for others globally. It’s REALLY impressive and inspiring when that person is a 13-year-old in a small town near Charlotte, NC and has been helping children globally since she was THREE!
What a joy and blessing it is for me to share with you the story of my young friend Mongai Fankham and her lovely mother Abong Fankham. Being in their presence is uplifting and joyful. I eagerly look forward to emails from them because they motivate, make me smile and put everything into perspective. They make me wonder why I sweat the small stuff.
Mongai Fankam is an 8th grader at Carolina International School in Concord, NC. She is an activist and avid supporter for underprivileged children.
At the tender age of 3, Mongai’s mother began taking her on mission trips to Cameroon, Africa. As Mongai got older, she realized that most of the children in Cameroon had to walk miles to school with no backpacks to carry their supplies, so Mongai decided to take action.
Sharing concerns with her teacher, she challenged her entire school to come to school for a day without a backpack, carrying their school supplies in their hands, just as the Cameroon children do every day. The principal, staff and entire student body rallied their support for the cause and designated it as “No Backpack Day”. Mongai launched this effort to raise awareness of the millions of youth around the world who do not have backpacks and have to walk to school. Mongai’s school decided to offer support to the cause by donating backpacks and school supplies to kids in need in Cameroon.
By May 2012, eight schools had joined in this movement and donated more than 500 backpacks filled with school supplies. In the summer of 2012, Mongai and her mom traveled to Cameroon to distribute these school bags.
Through this initiative, Mongia has been able to raise awareness of the more than 120 million children in the world who walk to school every day carrying their books and supplies in their hands. Her initiative has provided backpacks for children who are now able to attend school with dignity and respect along with certainty that the weather and other elements will not easily destroy their school supplies.
Since 2012, 40 schools have participated and have donated more than 10,000 backpacks, filled with school supplies to less fortunate children in Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Malawi and South Africa. To further recognize her efforts with “No Backpack Day”, Mongai met with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware on May 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. Senator Coons, who serves as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, discussed with Mongai her vision and goals for “No Backpack Day”.
Mongai has received many national and international awards for her dedication to her project. She has spoken in Washington, DC on the topic of advancing young girls to be global leaders. She has also attracted the attention of powerful women around the world!
Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, the former President of the Republic of Malawi, who was voted as Africa’s most powerful woman by Forbes magazine and one of the most powerful women in the world, met Mongai and has become her mentor.
This year, from March 29th to April 2nd, Mongai will welcome the First Lady of Cape Verde to Charlotte NC as a keynote speaker to the No Backpack Day event. Her Excellency, Mrs. Ligia Dias Fonseca, is an award-winning African leader and champion of access to education for all children.
To learn more about young Mongai and possibly help her in her efforts, click here to visit her website.
Mongai, and her mom Abong, don’t just talk about their strong faith. They humbly live it and serve the Lord with their actions everyday. They are changing the world one backpack at a time.
Tell Me: What charitable causes are you passionate about?