2 events this week benefit West African mission
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Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014

2 events this week benefit West African mission

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- COURTESY OF ABONG FANKAM
Abong Fankam, left, Mongai Fankam and volunteer Tara Cameron in Camaroon in 2012.

Abong Fankam lives in the Charlotte area and each year travels back to her homeland, Cameroon, West Africa, for mission trips.

“Growing up, I always wanted to help other people,” Abong said. “I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life.”

She noticed many children orphaned because their parents had died of AIDS, so she set out to help them. She is co-founder of A Place of Hope.

Abong’s 10-year old daughter, Mongai, noticed on one of their trips that the children had to carry all of their books to school. They didn’t have book bags.

“No backpack day” was created and started in various schools and quickly spread to more than 21 schools in several surrounding counties. Students go one day without using their book bags to raise awareness.

In the process, book bags and backpacks are donated and delivered to the orphans. Last year more than 3,000 were donated. This year’s event, the third year, will be on Feb. 20 at many schools.

Backpacks collected will go to children in Syria, Liberia, Cameroon and some will remain in the Mecklenburg/Union County area for children in need.

Aside from the backpack project, A Ride to Africa is an upcoming event she has planned to raise awareness in Union County.

The event is a celebration of African culture and heritage to include music, food, drumming and a fashion show. That event is 1-3 p.m. Feb. 23 at Marvin AME Church in Waxhaw.

The event is free and open to the public.

Abong also teaches four global studies classes at Queens University in Charlotte. A former social worker, she won the 2012 Lowes Pride Award for her global outreach efforts.

Kim Becknell Williams is a freelance writer. Have as story idea for Kim? Email her at kbwjcw@infionline.net.

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