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First Lady of Cabo Verde coming to JCSU for No Backpack Day

First Lady of Cabo Verde Mrs. Ligia Dias Fonseca is coming to Johnson C. Smith University April 1, 2017 to celebrate No Backpack Day. JCSU is the main institutional sponsor of the event, which raises awareness and supplies for underprivileged students. The First Lady will be joined by Mongai Fankam, Charlotte native and the young founder of No Backpack Day.

No Backpack Day was started in 2013, when Mongai was 10 years old. Mongai convinced her schoolmates at Blythe Elementary to donate backpacks and school supplies for the children of Cameroon on the condition that, for a day, they carry their supplies and books in hand or in plastic bags just as the Cameroonian children do. The principal, staff and entire student body rallied for the cause. That same year eight schools participated in the movement and over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies were shipped to Cameroon.

Since then, close to 40 schools in North Carolina and Georgia have joined the No Backpack Day movement, and more than 10,000 backpacks with supplies have been given to underprivileged children in several countries. Mongai hopes that No Backpack Day will continue to spread until every child around the world has a backpack and school supplies.

The backpacks collected April 1, 2017 at JCSU will be packed with school supplies and hygiene items and shipped to Cabo Verde.

This is the first official visit to Charlotte by First Lady Dias Fonseca, but the university has been cultivating relations with her nation for five years. Dr. Terza Lima-Neves, assistant professor of political science, taught JCSU’s first course on the Cabo Verdean diaspora in Spring 2012, and was founding president of the Cape Verdeans of the Carolinas Association in 2014. Since then, JCSU has hosted social gatherings, fundraisers and film screenings on the nation and its people, and in 2016 was an institutional sponsor for Poderosa: An International Conference of Cabo Verdean Woman (March), the first conference on Cabo Verdean women held in the United States. Students are currently enrolled in a course on contemporary Cabo Verdean society and politics ahead of the May study abroad trip to the island African nation.

No Back Pack Day Event

Saturday, April 1, 10:30 am-1:30 pm

Biddle Hall Auditorium, Johnson C. Smith University

Welcome from President Ronald L. Carter

Speech from Mongai Fankam

First Lady Keynote Address on education, poverty, women and girls empowerment



Community reception

Sunday, April 2, 3-6pm

Hosted by the Cape Verdeans of the Carolinas Association

Duke Hall Community Room, Johnson C. Smith University

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