A young man in Uganda is attending college thanks to baked goods and tie-dyed T-shirts sold by high school students in America.
The items were sold by Clare Duffy, 18, and the Africa Aid Club of Leonardtown High School. For 17 years, the Duffy family in Leonardtown, Md., had sponsored a boy through ChildFund International.
Over the years, the Duffy's and Mugerwa of Uganda grew to know each other through letters and photos they regularly exchanged with each other. But as he turned 18 and the sponsorship was coming to an end, Mugerwa needed more help – he wanted to go to college.
Even though the Duffy’s simply did not have the funds to support Mugerwa’s college education, that didn’t mean his dreams would come to an end.
That’s when the Africa Aid Club stepped up. The Club has been at Leonardtown High School since 2006 when Clare helped launch the program. In its first two years, the group helped other nonprofits in Africa. So when the group was looking for a charity to donate to in 2008, Clare brought up ChildFund International and her relationship with Mugerwa.
The group raised money during the school year by holding several bake sales and selling tie-dyed Africa Aid Club T-shirts, among other activities. The group raised $4,000 for Mugerwa to attend college – $1,000 of that was used to buy him a laptop.
“He always talked about college in his letters and his dreams,” Clare said. “We were so surprised with how generous people were.”
The Africa Aid Club has had full support from the high school’s top administrators, including Principal David O’Neill.
“I’m very proud of them. It came from their heart,” O’Neill said about the donations from the club. “They did it their way.”
Mugerwa also shared what the fundraising meant to him.
“Allow me to express my sincere gratefulness to the Africa Aid Club of Leonardtown High School,” he wrote in a letter in February. “I am so thankful for your assistance. I wish there was another way to show that.”
Clare, who will be a freshman at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design this fall, says she’s been inspired by his letters over the years, including a recent one where he told her to “live your dreams.”
“It’s not what people think sometimes,” he wrote. “It’s what we want and what we can make out of our capabilities. Out of your love for art, I think you can make the best of your career and live your dreams. You have my support all the way.”
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