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TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Abonge Ngranui has passion to make a difference

Ngranui at the 2018 Salute Her awards ceremony in Charlotte.

Abonge Ngranui was named “good voice” “God’s gift” in her native language. She lives her name by telling the stories of African children to help those in need.

In November, Ngranui—a Cabarrus County Human Services social worker—received the national Salute Her award, which recognizes dynamic women who’ve made contributions to their communities. She placed first out of 200 nominees.

Ngranui received the award for two initiatives: her non-profit organization called A Place of Hope and an initiative with her daughter Mongai, called No Backpack Day. Both charities benefit her home country of Cameroon.

Ngranui also brings charitable qualities to the workforce.

“She is very knowledgeable of community resources and can be a great resource to the agency and her colleagues,” says Social Work Program Manager Sharon Schueneman. “Abonge is extremely passionate about her work and yearns to make the world a better place.”

Q. Tell me about your non-profit organization.

A. We raise money to support children in Cameroon that have lost parents to HIV or AIDS. Since 2005, we’ve sponsored about 800 children by paying for school tuition, providing school supplies and even teacher salaries. We even built a community school in another village that houses more than 500 kids.

Q. What made you start the non-profit?

A. I think it was a calling. When HIV and AIDS became a pandemic, I watched the news every day and saw pictures that broke my heart. I thought ‘OK, what can I do?’ Am I just going to sit here and turn to the next channel or am I going to try to use my voice and do something to help those kids?

Children of Cape Verde receiving more than 500 backpacks through the No Backpack Day Initiative in 2018.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. My father. He made me conscious of events going on around the world. I passed this down to my daughter and guided her to become a philanthropist.

Q. What is No Backpack Day?

A. During a mission trip at the age of 8, Mongai noticed Cameroonian children walking to school with their books in plastic bags. When she returned to the U.S., Mongai challenged her classmates to come to school for a day without their backpacks.

No BackPack Day was launched in 2012 and raised more than 500 backpack donations in the first year. Since then, more than 40 Charlotte schools have participated and over 16,000 supply-filled backpacks were donated to seven African countries and locally in North Carolina.

Our goal for 2019 is to collect 10,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.

Q. Any future goals?

A. To always be of service and bridge the gap between Africans and Americans. I’ve realized that African people find it difficult to navigate within other groups. I want to inspire them so they know that if you put your mind on something, you can make it happen.

What I would like to see in the future is education of kids here and in Cameroon about each other. I want everyone to be able to sit down at the same table and feel equal.

Q. What’s your message to those who want to make positive change in the world?

A. Everyone has an assignment. I don’t believe we’re here by accident. Once you figure out what that is, go after it because your calling is never going to go away. We all should be of service—that’s what life is all about.

Ngranui handing out school supplies to Cameroonian students in 2014.

For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit A Place of Hope website or contact Abonge Ngranui, angranui@cabarruscounty.us​.

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