Boone resident Grace Faraja Nkundabantu’s fears of not being able to afford her undergraduate education in Nairobi, Kenya, became very real — she was dropped from her classes in 2005 when her family couldn’t meet tuition payments.

Shortly after, Nkundabantu’s music teacher, Helen, notified Nkundabantu that she needed to sing two songs for a group of visitors from the United States. The visitors were so captivated by Nkundabantu’s performance that they drew her face afterward, showed their drawing to the vice chancellor and asked to know who she was.

The vice chancellor explained that Nkundabantu was a refugee with no financial support at the time and a prominent student leader on campus.

“This girl needs a full scholarship,” the vice chancellor said.

From there, the visitors paid for Nkundabantu to complete her undergraduate education in 2007. She earned her bachelor’s in accounting and economics, finished her master’s in 2014 and is now completing her doctorate degree while living in Boone.

“I thank God for that,” Nkundabantu said. But she doesn’t want to be the only one to fulfill her educational and occupational aspirations. Nkundabantu founded African Girls Hope Foundation in Boone this year, which raises money for girls’ Christian education in communities in her home country of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Schooling is not free in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so Nkundabantu said she remembers it being common for children to drop out of school due to expenses.

With AGHF, donors have the option to sponsor a student, connected through Nkundabantu with a local pastor, with monthly $25 payments or $300 yearly payments. The sponsorship would cover schooling expenses, provide Bibles to each student and support the leaders and pastors in the communities “sharing God’s love” with the students.

“That’s the dream, by God’s grace,” Nkundabantu said. “I know how much this cycle of changing their lives will continue from one generation to another.”

Nkundabantu said that girls in her hometown were encouraged to marry young, but that isn’t the path that she wanted. Her uncle even told her she should get married instead of pursuing her studies.

“I believe in the transformation from God — change,” Nkundabantu said of breaking the generational cycle for women and young girls.

AGHF’s goal for the 2018-2019 school year is to fund 100 girls’ education for the first term, which started in September.

After moving to Boone, Nkundabantu met volunteer Pamela Blanton at Lifespring Church in Boone, where Nkundabantu shared her dream with Blanton of what would soon become AGHF.

Now, the two are working together to host an AGHF fundraiser at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Fairfield Inn on Blowing Rock Road in Boone. The event will include a dinner catered by Dan’l Boone Inn, a silent auction and more. Attendees will have the option to pick a specific student to sponsor or provide a general donation to go to any student.

Fundraiser tickets are $35, which includes the price of the dinner, and can be purchased in person at Ezzie-Lou Home and Living at 1320 N.C. Highway 105 in Boone.

All of the proceeds from the fundraiser after cost will go to the foundation. The foundation is hoping to send proceeds from the fundraiser to the students by December.

For more information about AGHF or to sponsor a student or buy fundraiser tickets online, visit africangirlshopefoundation.com.

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