How this project began:
A student run organization in the University of Connecticut, called “Uconn Empower” found Seta – the man who runs the Mbengwi orphanage in Cameroon and actively provides for the children there. Uconn Empower decided to make it a location to provide sustainable and long lasting empowerment (e.g. water filtration systems, access to higher education, life skill lessons, etc). One trip went summer of 2014 (during the wet season) and another went Winter of 2014 (during the dry season).
Elia D’Onoffrio, a recent alum at UConn and a dedicated member of Uconn Empower, spent his first trip to the orphanage in the winter of 2014 focused on revamping the electrical system by rewiring the orphanage and improving a learning center’s electrical source created from the first trip team. Uconn Empower brought 14 donated laptops on the first trip in summer of 2014 and downloaded massive amounts of knowledge from wikipedia, google, and other online resources since the orphanage does not have access to the internet.
After Elia’s first two week visit, he pledged to go back again as the children there called him Uncle E. All visitors are called Uncle or Auntie as a sign of respect, but this nickname caused a kinship between the children and Uncle E, and he continues to be the primary Western World Contact for the orphanage to this day.
Cameroon is currently on the Watch List, and funded trips are no longer possible due to the political turmoil that surrounds the country. The Francophone region greatly dominates the Anglophone region in size and population. People in the Anglophone regions in the west began demanding equal freedoms in September of 2016, and protests ensued shortly thereafter. Political and economic discrimination had been a long standing issue, and it all came to a head in the past year.
The orphanage we support is located in a western Anglophone region, and those who inhabit it have directly felt the costs of discrimination and the negative feedback of the protests.
Our goal is to send the orphanage $1000 per month, to help cover living, public school, and medical expenses. Every donation, no matter how small, helps these children survive and thrive on a daily basis. Every person that is aware of the turmoil in this nation has the potential to be a powerful ally.
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