This is truly a story about giving, so here I am on Giving Tuesday, hoping we can celebrate and accomplish something amazing together!
I had just started my 2 years as a Volunteer. He was wearing broken flip-flops and a big smile. He was living with his abusive uncle, who was threatening to take Franck out of school, and who lived far from the town where the school was. His father had passed when he was a baby and his mother wasn’t in the picture. His face was skinny, and I knew that he was only eating once a day, so I invited him into my home and into my life, and we began sharing recipes. He taught me how to kill and pluck a chicken. I taught him all about cake, Mexican food, and pizza flavored goldfish. Soon, Franck moved into my house and later he added my family name, Smith, to his.
I collaborated with Father Michel Djaba, a priest who founded and oversees 3 orphanages in Cameroon. We worked together to fundraise and install a water well at Kentaja Orphanage in Bandzuidjong , and later installed solar panels at the same orphanage. At the young age of 22, I learned a lot about love and motherhood. When my time neared to leave Cameroon, Father Michel simply told me, there’s no question, Franck can stay at the Nkongsamba Orphanage. Leaving him was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
During our time together, I did my best to equip him with the tools I felt could help him succeed. I emphasized moral values, I talked to him about safe sex, no matter the blushing face, and I repeatedly taught him that education would be the key to his success. 9 years later, Franck has passed his BAC exam and graduated from High School. I am proud of his determination and drive to succeed. When things got difficult and I was unable to send funds for school, Franck shined shoes, washed laundry and cleaned house for a military veteran in the community in exchange for his school tuition.
Last year, Franck decided he would like to start a business to become self-sufficient and serve a purpose in the community. As much as we would both love for him to attend university, unfortunately in Cameroon a degree doesn’t matter as much as who you know when it comes to getting a job. In a country where about a third of the population was living below the international poverty threshold of US$1.25 a day in 2009, my goal is to empower him to empower himself. As a small business owner, I have been able to guide him through the process of creating a business plan. We chat daily to discuss the business.
Flore Dovena has been managing a successful business in Nkongsamba (as well as two shops in the capital) for more than 23 years. She gives rice and other foods to the Kentaja orphanage several times each year. Over the last year, Franck has been working in Flore’s shop, learning the ins and outs of the business. She is also a testament to his great attitude and continuous commitment to hard work. She tells me he is polite, hardworking and serious. Franck also shadowed Lionel Nana, business owner of Medico, a clothing shop that has operated just over two years. This 6 month-long internship taught him more about business operations.
Ms. Dovena has offered Franck a small shop space in town to set up his business for the next 6 months, with a safe space to store his merchandise. She tells me that she wants him to have something for himself for the first time in his life. Franck is ready to work hard, to earn a living and to make his American family proud. He is also eager to start giving back to the Kentaja orphanage that has provided him with so much. Franck created a budget plan, detailing the necessities for launching his business this December. Once funds are delivered, he will make his way to the wholesale markets to purchase inventory, and will begin setting up shop as soon as possible! Ms. Dovena will guide and encourage Franck in his small business daily, as his shop is located just next to hers. I plan to personally visit Franck and his clothing shop in the next few months to follow up! I look forward to sharing video and photos with every contributor.
Franck’s contribution brings 43%, with 57% of the funds remaining to launch his clothing shop business. Our goal is to raise $528 in the next 72 hours (November 30th).
358.60 – Clothing/Inventory
14.00 – Mannequins
45.34 – Baffoussam & Douala Trip for wholesale purchases
90.67 – National Tax & Seller’s Permit for 6 months
20.00 – Transfer/Exchange Fees
50.78 – Shoe Shelf
117.99 – Phone
217.64 – 6 Months of Rent
10.15 – Shop Lock and Key
Total Project Cost: 925.17
Community Contribution (43%) – 396.56
Requested Funds (57%) – 528.61
I know that it’s the holiday season, and many of you are feeling your wallets getting tighter, but I can’t think of a better way to spend Giving Tuesday than by making a direct impact on someone’s life who needs a little help. Please join us to give my son Franck the opportunity to earn an honest living. I will be forever thankful for your help! These dollars are everything to his future. Thank you for your support!
To give to this project, please visit Franck’s GoFundMe project page!