Posted on May 6, 2014 at 4:49 PM
Wednesday, May 7 at 9:03 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NBC Charlotte has a new update on a local 5th grader, who’s now headed to Congress.
Blythe Elementary School student Mongai Fankam is helping get backpacks to needy school kids in Africa and is now taking her efforts to Washington D.C.
On our visit, we saw that Mongai thinks she’s figured out the math problem her fifth grade class is trying to solve.
The 10 year old is all about problem solving.
“Mongai just being who Mongai is. Once she has a passion, she is just going to go after it,” says mom Abong.
Abong is from Cameroon in Africa, and often travels there with her daughter.
Mongai remembers, “When I was 3, I saw the kids had to walk to school with their school supplies in their hands with plastic bags, and I didn't like that. It made me feel disappointed because what we have here, sometimes we take for granted, and they don’t have a lot of stuff.”
“When she was 4 and we were going, Mongai was able to raise $75 in her piggybank, and she used all of that money to buy books for the kids in Cameroon,” Abong recalls.
By first grade she had an idea to help get the Cameroon students more backpacks.
“We were on the plane ride home and she turned around and asked me, ‘Are all children born equal?’ And I was like where is this child heading with this? And she asked me, ‘Why is it not okay for a child in the U.S. to go to school without a backpack, but then a child in Cameroon goes to school without a backpack?’”
Mongai enlisted the help of her teachers and principal to start “No Backpack Day” at her school, and it's since spread to dozens of other schools.
Mongai explains, “No Backpack Day means you come to school one day and feel how the kids feel in Cameroon, when they come to school with their school supplies in their hands or in plastic bags.”
Mongai has led the way collecting 5,000 backpacks. Most have already been delivered but she and Mom have 700 in their garage right now that they will deliver this summer.
Later this week she heads to Congress to tell senators about her plan to have No Backpack Day at every school in the country.
Mongai’s mom says they take donated backpacks of all kinds. She says, “It just has to be better than a plastic grocery bag.”
If you’d like to donate a backpack, you can email Abong at Abongf@placeofhopes.org.