A childhood volunteer experience in Africa

Beatriz da Costa, Staff Writer

My first experience working with a nonprofit organization was at the ripe old age of seven.

I distinctly remember wearing the organization’s shirt as I proudly told people how I was helping my mom and aunt start up their foundation.

“Fundação Lionidio e Beatriz,” named after my grandparents, was created in 2005 in Angola, Africa. It was inaugurated with a bazaar with the intention of raising money for a public library and create futures for children.

For the first bazaar, my mom had set up stands containing various games. To play each game, the individual would have to pay and that money would go to funding the public library for the citizens of Angola and building a program for their kids.

My job was to collect the money from each game and hand it over to my mom. I tried to actually work behind the stands but, since I was young, I could not handle the responsibility.

Two years after that in 2007, the second bazaar happened and I took a different hands-on approach for this one. With the stands my mom had, there were also prizes for the winners of first, second and third place.

My duty that year was to gather up a pile of toys and old electronics that my family did not use to donate for the bazaar. If I were not doing that, then I could be found walking through the aisles of Target looking for toys that I thought Angolan kids would appreciate.

The next time I helped out with “Lionidio e Beatriz” was recently during the summer of 2015. This was after my family’s nonprofit had finally raised enough money to build the public library for Angola’s capital, Luanda.

The bazaar of 2015 was geared toward a tennis tournament that involved underprivileged kids competing with one another for prizes. The prizes ranged from iPads to laptops and things that could help them improve academically. The grand prize however was a one-month stay with a family, where the kids would be able to take tennis lessons and be in challenging courses to further their knowledge.

In this bazaar, my family and I sold clothing, shoes and accessories that had been donated either by our close friends or us. I was working the stand where women’s clothing were set up. This bazaar was geared more towards a community of people of lesser means, so it was really fulfilling helping them find their sizes and just talking to them. At this bazaar, we were able to raise 400,000 Angolan Kwanzas, which translates to approximately $2,500 U.S. dollars. Although, that may not seem like a lot, it did wonders for my mother’s charity.

Working for my family’s nonprofit is something that I know I will do for the rest of my life and I get immense pleasure taking part in it. The fact that my mom, Ana Costa, and her sister, Ana Martins, work each day to make a brighter future for developing kids has been inspiring to me ever since I first slipped the “Fundação Lionidio e Beatriz” shirt on.