Nobel prize-winner visits Charlotte


The Story

How would you feel if your goodwill project caught the attention of a Nobel-Prize winning activist? Just ask, now 11 year old, Mongai Fankam of Carolina International School in Concord. Her “No Backpack Day” project is kicking off their 2015 No Backpack Day week and Leymah Gbowee is coming to town to support Mongai and her initiative.

The Facts:

  • Mongai Fankam started No Backpack Day 3 years ago after a mission trip with her mother to Cameroon.
  • Fankam noticed that the school children lacked an essential piece of school life: a backpack.
  • Upon coming home, Fankam convinced her school to go for a week without backpacks then donated backpacks to school children in Africa.
  • The No Backpack Day project has expanded into Wilmington, NC and Augusta, GA totaling more than 5,000 backpacks donated.
  • This year, Mongai wanted to double the total and that’s when Nobel Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee got involved.
  • Gbowee was so touched by her initiative that she called Mongai to tell her that she was coming to Charlotte to support her.
  • Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 for advocating peace and women’s rights in Liberia.
  • She will be speaking at Queens University of Charlotte this Saturday. This event is free and open to the public.


“I realized that every time I went, the kids were walking to school with all the school supplies in their hands, and I wanted to do something about it.” – Mongai Fankam, 11, creator of No Backpack Day

C5’s Take

Stories like these inspire me like no other. When Mongai started No Backpack Day, she was only 8 years old. To be that thoughtful and observant at such a young age makes me feel good about the way our youngest generation is growing up. The most inspiring part is how she just did it. She saw the need and did something about it. Kudos to her school for supporting her right off the bat. This just goes to show you that a good idea and a little support can go a very long way.


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