Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Minnesota community gives Cameroon girl an education

In our feel good story of the day, we learn of a Cameroon native who was taken in by a Minnesota community. Bright Nfor is receiving an education in the U.S., thanks to the fund-raising efforts of churches in Hawley, Minnesota. The current round of fund-raising is sending Nfor to college. Nfor hopes to study law and return to Cameroon after graduation.

From In Fourm, writer Mila Koumpilova tells us how Nfor arrived in the states.

“It’s been so wonderful to see how the community has embraced Bright,” said Tom Olson, a pastor in rural Hawley. “People see it as a concrete way they can help Africa help itself.”

Olson befriended Bright’s family during his 15 years as a missionary in Africa. Her father, a baker, and mom, a seamstress, pass on their trades to people living in poverty to help them become self-sufficient. They are also active in HIV education and prevention.

A couple of years ago, Bright’s father, Silas, visited Olson in Hawley. He let it slip to Mike Martin, the high school principal, that he’d always wanted to see his eldest daughter go to school in America.

“Wouldn’t it be kind of neat if we gave him his wish?” Martin thought.

So Martin tracked down an exchange student program and, along with his wife, Kate, offered to host Bright. Folks in town threw a hog roast and collected pledges to run the Fargo Marathon, raising more than $8,000 for Bright’s travel expenses.

So last August, Bright arrived in town, “all by myself, just little me.” She noticed she walked a little more slowly and dressed a little more warmly than her new classmates. She had to explain occasionally she doesn’t live in a jungle and doesn’t have a pet lion.

But, “It was not hard fitting in at all,” says Bright, strikingly poised and unfailingly upbeat. “I got accepted from the first day I walked into the school.”

Bright was eager to try everything: She rode a combine, walked on a frozen lake, made a video of a blizzard and drove a snowmobile, crashing into a small tree. She ran cross country and made the third-quarter honor roll.

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