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Posted: 4:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, 2012
By Erica Bryant
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The U.S. Department of Education dubbed this International Education Week, and some CMS schools picked a project students could do together.
They decided on a no backpack day.
This week, children all over Charlotte carried something different to class. They've traded backpacks for plastic bags.
It's an effort sparked by Abong Fankam and her nonprofit, called A Place of Hope.
Fankam grew up in West Africa, and her goal is to help young people there in need.
“The mission is to help its orphans through education -- enrolled in school, that their tuition is being paid for and to make sure they have school supplies,” Fankam said.
She also uses it to teach global outreach to students here.
CMS students donate backpacks for children in Cameroon and then go without themselves.
“It's actually really hard because it's easy to drop them and when you bend over to pick them up, they fall again. It’s hard and it hurts your arms sometimes,” seventh-grader Brenden Coleman said.
In just one day, Brenden learned a powerful lesson.
“I give a lot of appreciation to them for having to do this because, just because they’re poor doesn't mean they shouldn't have bookbags like us,” he said.
Since 2005, the movement has grown from eight to nearly 30 schools, collecting more than 500 donated bookbags last year.
And when Fankam makes her next delivery to Cameroon, West Africa, again it will all come full circle.
“See the smiles, the singing and dancing, knowing that the people in another part of the world cares about them,” Fankam said.
They hope to be able to Skype with Fankam in May, when she takes the books to see the completed process.
She's been contacted by two cities -- Detroit, Michigan, and Portland, Oregon -- interested in doing the project, too.
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