CSU French Club raises money for young girls in Muanjadi Organization

As a French and International Studies major with a double minor in history and economics, Bryana Starbuck can appreciate the value of an education. When CSU’s French Club decided they wanted to donate money to help send girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to school, she understood the importance.

Women of the Congo hold up thank you signs. The French Club hosts a bake sale at the main entrance of Clark C twice a semester to raise money to help send these girls of the Congo to school.
Women of the Congo hold up thank you signs. The French Club hosts a bake sale at the main entrance of Clark C twice a semester to raise money to help send these girls of the Congo to school.

“By giving them an opportunity to go to school, you give them an opportunity to live a better life, so that’s why we really like their organization,” Starbuck said, who serves as president of the French Club.

The French Club hosts a bake sale at the main entrance of Clark C twice a semester. Half of the funds are donated to the Muanjadi Organization, a non-profit located in Denver that helps support young girls living in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital city of Kasai-Oriental Province in south-central Democratic Republic of the Congo. The funds are used to sponsor the girls so that they may continue their education instead of being forced into marriage at a young age.

The Muanjadi Organization sponsors girls ages 11 to 18 who would not be able to afford to go to school without the support. It costs $75 to send one girl to Muanjadi High School for one year, but the average household income in Mbuji-Mayi is $300, according to the Muanjadi Organization website.

Each semester the French Club bake sales are able to generate between $200 to $300 to donate to the Muanjadi Organization.

“It’s so effective for us because we can send three girls to school just by having two bake sales,” Starbuck said.

The French Club chose to donate to this particular program because of the organization’s mission to educate young girls, and because the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a Francophone country, Starbuck said.

Frederique Grim, French professor at CSU and former advisor to the French Club, introduced the organization to the club members after meeting the founder and CEO of the organization, Sandra Bea, a native of the DRC who now lives in Denver. Grim said she met Bea through a state organization called Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers.

“It’s amazing to know that you can help a girl go to school for a year just by sending $75,” Grim said. “It’s a way to prevent poverty also because they realize by letting girls go to school a little longer, they don’t marry right away, and they get a higher education so they are able to live a little bit on their own if they need to.”

After hearing about the Muanjadi Organization, Grim proposed the idea to the club members who embraced the idea the right way.

“For our students it’s a way to be close to Africa and see that we are helping people in Africa, so I think they’ve been really taking that to heart,” she said.

The goal was to send one girl a semester to school by raising $75, but this year the French Club decided they wanted to donate 50 percent of the proceeds from the bake sale, according to Elizabeth Rose, faculty advisor to the French Club. Rose said the students have been very generous.

“I think this generation of students is just very interested in helping less fortunate people,” she said.

In past years, the French Club, whose officers get to choose which organizations they want to donate money to, has also donated to disaster relief efforts in Haiti and Japan, according to Grim.

Rose said the French Club organizes many different events throughout the semester, including cultural presentations, a study abroad panel at the beginning of each semester, outings to different restaurants and gatherings at Everyday Joe’s in Old Town where participants can engage in an hour-long conversation to practice French.

All students and community members can participate in French Club activities, no matter what level of French they speak.

“If all you know how to say is ‘bonjour’ or if you are fluent — everyone’s welcome,” Starbuck said.

The next bake sale is scheduled for April 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the main entrance of Clark C and donations can be made directly to the Muanjadi Organization at www.muanjadi.org.

Collegian Writer Katie O’Keefe can be reached at news@collegian.com.