Cilongo Foundation holds successful shoes drive

Kids in Africa will have shoes thanks to generous area donors and the Cilongo Foundation.

The foundation collected 750 pairs of shoes Sept. 29 in a shoes and socks drive held at Aquatore Park in Blaine.

Volunteers of all ages collected 750 pairs of shoes for the Cilongo Foundation. The shoes will be shipped and donated to children in Africa. Photo courtesy of Albert Nyembwe

Volunteers of all ages collected 750 pairs of shoes for the Cilongo Foundation. The shoes will be shipped and donated to children in Africa. Photo courtesy of Albert Nyembwe

“How can I explain my happiness?” said the foundation’s director Albert Nyembwe, who was overjoyed at the turn out and the amount of donations. The foundation’s goal was to collect 200 pairs.

The shoes will be shipped to Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congo and Kenya.

During the shoes drive, Nyembwe, a resident of Blaine, heard over and over again such words as “blessing” and “blessed” from attendees.

The foundation has yet to count the pairs, but Nyembwe estimates four large boxes of socks were collected.

Nyembwe founded the nonprofit Cilongo, which means brotherhood, in 2001.

Its mission is to support educational initiatives, to help provide education for those in need in Africa and to help students in the United States access scholarship opportunities for higher education.

Nyembwe knows the importance of shoes and how fast they can wear out. As a child living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, he walked to and from school an hour-and-a-half each way. His shoes oftentimes wore out.

Fortunately, his family could afford to buy new shoes.

But the children who will receive the shoes from the Blaine drive are from poor families who don’t have the financial resources to afford a second pair of shoes. Their first pair usually wears out two months into the school year. High inflation and high prices are the reason parents can’t afford the shoes, Nyembwe sai sd.

Nyembwe was surprised at the number of people who found their way to Aquatore Park to donate. Ninety-six in all. Some came from as far as Minnetonka, Savage, Stillwater and Apple Valley to contribute.

Nyembwe would like to thank those who donated their services and shoes and socks to make the collection a success.

“I really value the time and generosity it took to come out (to donate) and the caring they have for those in need,” Nyembwe said. “They’ll make a real difference for those children in Africa.”

As for the next shoes drive? A question Nyembwe heard several times during the drive.

Nyembwe and his foundation are planning another one next year.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com


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