Brooklyn Park woman seeks to raise money for Indian orphans

Christian Voigtlander and Stephen Eickman show off T-shirts Tega Ewefada is selling to raise money for orphans in India. (Photo courtesy of Hailey Jane Sprinkel)

Christian Voigtlander and Stephen Eickman show off T-shirts Tega Ewefada is selling to raise money for orphans in India. (Photo courtesy of Hailey Jane Sprinkel)

 

When Tega Ewefada of Brooklyn Park saw the trailer for the documentary “Blood Brother,” she saw herself in the main character, “Rocky” Braat.

The documentary tells the story of Rocky visiting and ultimately moving to India to live among impoverished children.

“I can’t take any of them out of that situation,” he says in the trailer. “But I can put myself in it.”

When she saw the trailer, Ewefada had recently returned from living in an orphanage in Mexico for five months and she could relate to the feeling. Currently a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College studying nursing, Ewefada hopes one day to move to another country and work with impoverished children.

Ewefada watched the entire “Blood Brothers” documentary and was impressed with the work of LIGHT (Living to Inspire Global Healing Today), the nonprofit organization behind it. LIGHT works to create small, sustainable, community-based projects to help eradicate poverty. It has set up a home for women and orphans affected by HIV and AIDS in Chennai, India, where Braat lives. The group is seeking to establish more homes.

“One thing I really liked about this organization is that they work in one community for a really long time,” Ewefada said.

Instead of making minimal impact on a lot of people, the group would rather help a few but make a tangible difference, she said.

“My ultimate goal would be to do just that,” she added.

Although Ewefada knew she couldn’t go back to live in another country right now, she wanted to support Braat’s work. So she decided to organize a fundraiser.

She designed T-shirts that sport the slogan “Love, feed, treat, clothe, your neighbor as yourself,” and she got the shirts donated. She’s attempting to sell a total of 60 shirts, which are available for $10 online and at an event at the University of Minnesota Saturday, March 9. The event will include a screening of a 50-minute documentary called “Kids Living with Slim,” based on children living in Uganda who are benefitting form the work of LIGHT.

Ewefada said the documentary is set in a different continent than where Braat works, but the situation is similar. Admission to the documentary is free and open to the public.

The documentary screening is being sponsored by the student group UNICEF at the U, an extension of the larger United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Rob Wietecha, the president of UNICEF at the U, said his group mostly helped Ewefada get access to the facilities and fill out paperwork. It is also helping her promote the event.

“We jumped at the opportunity to help her,” Wietecha said. “Everything we do is … helping to raise awareness and raise funds for various issues for children around the world.”

Despite her efforts, Ewefada has found raising funds isn’t easy.

“It’s proving a lot harder than I thought it would be to sell 50 T-shirts,” she said. “I think people need an incentive. That sounds horrible, but I think people need an incentive to do a good thing.”

So Ewefada asked businesses to support her, and Chipotle donated coupons for free food. Now every T-shirt purchased comes with a coupon for a free meal.

Ewefada also pointed out that everything was donated, so every cent raised will help make a difference in a child’s life.

She hopes a lot of people will attend the event.

“I would just say that I think it’s really, really easy to see something … and just think, “Oh, I’m sure other people will go,” Ewefada said. “… But I guess I would ask (people) to really take it seriously and not put it on the back burner. … even the smallest acts of love really do matter.”

T-shirts are available at kishatee.com/shop.

For more information on LIGHT, go to givethemlight.org.

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

If you go

What: Fundraiser for orphans in India

When: 1-3 p.m.

Where: Honeywell Auditorium, L-110, in the Carlson School of Management, 321 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis

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