Early this year, I got into contact with Mr. Jackson Kaguri, the founder of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.
Some students may be aware of this NGO, especially those who currently attend Seoul International School (SIS) and Korea International School (KIS). I, as a senior at SIS, have been familiar with Nyaka since the 6th grade, and was involved in fundraising for Nyaka through SIS’s Global Issues Network club since my freshman year.
After an annual conference in March, I had a feeling that I wasn’t doing enough. Sure, SIS GIN posted campaigns all over the hallways, hosted conferences and presentations with Mr. Kaguri, and sent money to Uganda, year after year. But that was it. There was no advancement in our support, and it felt like as high school students living so far away from Nyaka, our methods of campaign were limited. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I personally reached out to Mr. Kaguri through email for the first time in May. A series of threads eventually led to an official request for a collaboration between Nyaka and another Korean NGO I am currently president of, known as Art & Love. Art & Love is an organization where students of all ages draw, paint, or take photos according to a theme (happiness, environment, etc.). The works of art are then displayed at an art gallery, and the exhibition fees and products sold at a bazaar are used to profit Art & Love, as well as donated to organizations such as World Vision.
Using allowance I saved up for the last six months, I purchased over a $1000 worth of Nyaka products, including handwoven baskets and handmade beads. These products were then sold at Art & Love’s bazaar, as well as featured in BMW Owner’s Magazine. The exhibition ended as a success in raising both money and awareness for the two organizations involved in the collaboration.
I was then invited to join the Nyaka Junior Board, and was featured on Nyaka’s official homepage. On the blog, I wrote:
“Nyaka has given me courage to try new things because it’s never too early or too late to make change in the world, as long as you have a purpose to carry on. Nyaka has also made me realize the importance of the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” I enjoy planning and organizing, but I was always afraid to act upon my words. Now, through my recent collaborations with Nyaka, I have come to realize how much progress I was able to make simply by contacting authorities and ‘walking the talk.’”
Working with Nyaka has been an amazing experience. I learned that regardless of age, if you has the heart and determination, you can do anything. I learned to work professionally in the real world with real organizations. But most important, I learned so much about myself and my potentials.