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SPREADING HOPE one meal at a time

May 26, 2017

 

Christiane Olinga, a senior medical technologies major (left) and Mary Simal, a junior mathematics major, sell lunch boxes to raise money for Spreading Hope. – Photos by Ashley Kober

Amber Harrington
News Editor | anh038@latech.edu

 

When people consider a college student, the first few things that come to mind may be: raging fraternity parties, copious amounts of ramen noodle soup, coffee-filled all-nighters and eager spring breakers.

 

In light of this, starting nonprofit organizations probably would not be on the list of things many expect from a college student.

 

However, whether expected or not, one Louisiana Tech student accomplished just that.

 

Christiane Olinga, a senior medical technology major, started a nonprofit charity organization called Spreading Hope in efforts to help those who are less fortunate here in the city of Ruston and overseas.

 

Olinga, who is also a Cameroonian native, said she has desired to open a nonprofit organization for a few years now after working with a charity in Dakar, Senegal. However, after being met with much pessimism from friends and acquaintances, she decided to temporarily give up on the dream.

 

“I was told it was stupid to open a new organization when there are already so many on campus,” Olinga said. “And that since I wanted to work with children, I could join the organizations on campus that raise money to support children. But I didn’t just want to support children, I already did that monthly. I wanted to give them more than financial support: something that would let them know that I cared about them, whoever they might be.”

 

Although she has a big heart for children and others in need, Olinga said above all, Spreading Hope was inspired by her first hand experience in suffering.

 

Olinga’s most recent fundraising effort raised money by selling $8 lunches on campus. 

“I know what it is to be hungry — not just a few hours — but truly hungry, starving,” Olinga said. “I’m lucky that my dad always favored our education, my siblings and I, and that his financial situation improved so that today we all enjoy a comfortable life, with proper schooling. But I know people my age who were not as fortunate as me.”

 

The organization has already held a couple fundraisers on campus and hopes to hold many more, Olinga said. The most recent was an $8 lunchbox fundraiser which partnered with Baye Medical Assistance (BAM) in Dakar, Senegal.  BAM is a nonprofit organization consisting of physicians from diverse medical specialities, nurses and volunteers that help around the country to provide free medical care to those in need who cannot afford it.

 

“Many are not aware that in certain areas in Senegal, and in other countries in Africa, girls are sent into marriage at an early age (around 12 years old) because the parents do not have the finance to support for their school,” Olinga said. “Knowing that about $15 is enough to pay for the tuition in elementary and high school, the fund will allow us to cover a good number of girls, in different villages.”

 

Olinga encourages other students interested in starting an organization to take the initiative and not let others stop them.

 

“Starting an organization on campus is quite easy,” she said. “People’s opinions are not always encouraging. My advice to whoever wants to start an organization is: if you know what you want and really want it, then go for it. It’s better to try than wonder later how it might have turned out.”

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