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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Student fundraises for scholarships in Cameroon

Boston University sophomore Anthony Dongfack launched an initiative last week to raise scholarship money for students in his family’s native Fongo-Tongo district of Cameroon in Central Africa.

Dongfack said his goal is to fund two $100 scholarships for students who otherwise would not be able to afford higher education. This fundraiser is one of a number of initiatives aided by Fongo-Tongo USA — a nonprofit focused on development in the region — run by members of Dongfack’s family who emigrated from Fongo-Tongo.

Dongfack, who’s in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, explained he started this fundraiser because many others of his background do not have the financial means to attend a school like BU.

“It’s important to reach back and not take advantage of the place you are in,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “Everyone deserves higher education, and I want to be able to share that with as many people as possible.”

Dongfack wrote that besides the two scholarships he has been crowdsourcing for, Fongo-Tongo USA is looking to use funds to build and refurbish classrooms, construct and repair plumbing and water systems, increase teacher salaries and fund future scholarships for financial aid.

“Although it’s very gradual development, we’re aiming to eventually upgrade the quality of education and life overall for youths in Cameroon,” he wrote.

The president of Fongo-Tongo USA and Anthony’s father, Jean Bernard Dongfack, said the goal of the organization is for his family in America to provide educational opportunities to people back home in Cameroon.

“What we’re trying to do is give back to the community of people,” he said.

He added that without the scholarship money Fongo-Tongo USA provides, Cameroonian students may never have the opportunity to earn a college degree.

“The goal is to incentivize them to continue to go to school,” he said. “Without this [money], most of them will probably stay home.”

In addition, Jean Barnard said students should note that the organization helps those who are just like them but don’t have the same educational environment.

“My son is fortunate to be [at BU], to have parents that can actually pay for his education,” he said. “But in other places, in other countries, on other continents, there are kids who do not have that chance to freely and without any doubt in their mind … continue their education.”

After two days of fundraising, Dongfack wrote he had raised $88 as of Friday, from six donations.

“Many people have contacted me saying they plan to donate as well,” Dongfack said. “It warms my heart to see how much support I’m getting for this cause of ours.”

Several BU students expressed interest and admiration for Dongfack’s fundraising initiative.

Mengqing Shang, a third-year doctoral student studying cultural anthropology, said she thinks Dongfack’s project is a good way to give back to the community.

“It’s good to start initiatives like this,” Shang said. “The goal is about giving back and showing an appreciation for your community.”

Allison Miller, a College of Communication junior, said she appreciates how Dongfack is assisting people from his family’s country.

“I would donate because education is important, and I have this education here and they don’t have that,” Miller said.

Alice Yih, a senior in the College of Engineering, said that the project will be beneficial to those who do not have the same financial resources when it comes to education.

“Everyone deserves equal opportunities, so I think that if people have the resources to help, they should use it to help others,” Yih said.

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