“In this generation we can be selfish sometimes. It’s not really about me. I serve a purpose on this earth.”
Students at Rutgers University go through many different experiences whether they’re commuting, interning, or even traveling. Students are encouraged to participate in events on and off campus. Sometimes students participate during their travels to different countries. It is through this participation that Scarlet Knights get a chance to make a difference in the world because one is never too young to make an impact within their generation.
A current senior, Muna Ilogu, double majoring in Public Health and Journalism and Media Studies has started her own funding project, Helping Hearts of Africa Project. She is a Douglass woman and a Peer Academic Leader in the Global Village of Jameson Residential Hall. Muna also serves as an E-board member for G.O.Y.A. (Galvanizing and Organizing Youth Activism).
Muna usually spends her breaks volunteering, but this past spring break of 2015 she was spending it for leisure with her family in Nigeria. As days were approaching her vacation, she realized that she still wanted to do some volunteer work while she was in her home country. During her visit to Nigeria that spring break, she contacted an orphanage, “Sought After Women and Children Foundation,” and visited them to see what problems they had. The foundation supports young women and children that have overcome verbal or physical abuse. Muna was impacted by her visit to the orphanage and knew she had to do something.
When she returned from her trip, she decided she wanted to give back to different orphanages located in Nigeria. She said,
“I always wanted to reach out and especially to my home country, but specifically with orphanages. It was just like a desire or zeal that got put in my heart. It was really something that sparked out of nowhere. I just feel like it was something that God needed me to do in order to learn love for humanity. Love for the less fortunate. Love for the needy. Love for people who find themselves in situations where they don’t really deserve to be in, but that’s just like where they are. Love for people who take me out of my comfort zone to meet them where they are.”
When she realized she wanted to go back to Nigeria and give back to the orphanages, she felt lost. She didn’t know what to do and was scared because she didn’t know how she was supposed to come up with enough money for the orphanages. One of her friends encouraged her to start a “Go Fund Me” project.
Muna started her funding project in May and ended up raising about $3000, out of the $5000 goal she had, just in time for her departure in July. With the money she raised, she was able to bring toys and a soccer net from America with her to Nigeria. When she arrived in Nigeria, she was able to buy bunk beds for teenage girls, a swing set for the younger children, and sponsor a year’s worth of tuition for three kids. While helping renovate some parts of the orphanages she visited, Muna also had a chance to spend time with the children, volunteer, and do research.
“In conjunction to the project, I am also doing an independent research study. The topic is ‘Education opportunities for orphans in orphanages in legal state Nigeria.’ My mentor for the research is Dr. Edward Ramsamy in the Africana Studies Department.”
Muna, prior to her trip in July, sought out the wisdom and advice from Dr. Ramsamy. He helped her with how to go about getting information during her visit and utilizing the funds she had raised. She is currently under his guidance doing research using the information, interviews, and questionnaires she collected while in Nigeria.
“God has given me a purpose on this earth that’s greater than me, which is to step out and touch the lives of others. Reach out to others. I learned to just take my eyes off of me for a second and see what was going on in the world around me and see how I can offer help to someone who is in need of it. I got to spend time with these kids, learning about them, who they are and figuring out that they have a lot to offer to this world.”
Her next step is to try to go back and visit the children and see how they’re doing during winter break. She wants to start a student organization at Rutgers and then possibly branch out to a non-profit organization. Muna would like to take a team with her to Nigeria to help her on the next funding project she pursues along with sponsoring five other children’s school tuition.
One girl said to Muna,
“Thank you so much for what you’re doing. A lot of people come to visit us, but no one ever takes time out to just hang out with us and see how we’re doing.”
Muna wants her funding project to establish something bigger and get people to spend time with the children, so that more lives can be changed. She lives by the Bible passage: Romans 10:11
“Those who trust in God shall never be put to shame.”
All of this experience and activism has really been a leap of faith for Muna and she is grateful to have the support from her family and friends.
Muna has made her difference and she wants others to join her on this humble journey. Students like Muna are leaving big marks during their time at Rutgers. They are activists and are taking on challenges. Encouragement is always given to students because Rutgers believes that every Scarlet Knight has the ability to make a difference in the world. We encourage all Rutgers students to follow their passions because they are the future leaders of the world.
To help Muna’s fund visit: https://www.gofundme.com/t6pcy98