Winning raffle ticket aids education for students world apart

| November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Kindness, a 6-year-old from Nigeria, will receive an education thanks to Kyra Newburg’s sponsorship through the Basic Institute for Zonal African Advancement, a Twin Cities-based nonprofit.

For a 6-year-old girl in Nigeria, a winning raffle stub from a parish auction will become her ticket to an education and a childhood free from forced labor.

Her sponsorship is thanks to the grand-prize winner of St. Vincent de Paul Church’s April auction — 19-year-old Kyra Newburg, a member of the Brooklyn Park parish who began her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall.

Last spring, Kyra’s dad, Mike Newburg, gave her money to purchase a raffle ticket, stipulating that if she won, she’d use the money to help pay for college. Winning the $10,000 means she can do that and more.

“I was thinking how I could give back some of the money in some way,” Kyra said. “It took me about a month to decide what to do with it.”

Although Nigeria might seem like a world away, Kyra didn’t have to look far when deciding on a charity to support. Her mom, Sue, a nurse, is a sponsor liaison with the Basic Institute for Zonal African Advancement, a local nonprofit founded by St. Vincent de Paul’s director of pastoral care and social outreach, Okey Anyanwu. On their living room floor, Sue had laid out pictures of children who needed sponsors. Kyra saw the little girl’s picture and decided to sponsor her.

“There are a lot of kids who still need sponsors,” Kyra said. “They have such sad stories that they live with every day.”

In 2014, Sue went on a BIZAA mission trip to Nigeria and came back sharing the stories of how children as young as 4 beg on the streets and carry sticks to sell to help support their families, rather than attend school. Because some families are so poor, they sell their children into domestic servitude, which can lead to trafficking and other violent crimes.

“If we all did international outreach. . . helping our neighbors everywhere, there’d be total peace in the world,” Sue said. “BIZAA is one way to do that.”

On the trip, Sue met the girl she decided to sponsor with her family. Kyra chose to sponsor a younger child, who has the baptismal name Kindness, so that she can continue to support her after she graduates from college and enters the workforce.

In learning she had won $10,000, Kyra said she was in disbelief. Then shock turned to excitement about the possibilities.

Kyra Newburg

Kyra Newburg

“I thought, ‘That’s a lot of money for me to have.’ I’m fortunate that my parents are there to help with my education,” she said. “Reaching out to Nigeria, my faith helps me do that because God wants everybody to have a chance in life.”

Education combats poverty

Anyanwu, a native of Nigeria, admits he didn’t think he was an emotional person until he learned of Kyra’s commitment to sponsor a child.

“For a 19-year-old girl who has just started her college education, to have won $10,000 and dedicating that money to sponsoring a child . . . really, really tells me that children can serve children as well,” said Anyanwu, a parishioner of St. Michael in St. Michael with his wife and four children. “It goes to say that the message that BIZAA has is one that is making an impact on the lives of the children in the United States, not just in Nigeria.”

An annual sponsorship for a single child to attend six-year primary school through BIZAA is $650 and covers tuition, supplies and a small stipend for the student’s family. Children attend Catholic or other Christian-affiliated schools. BIZAA’s plan to build a vocational school is in the works.

“If the youngest citizens of our world, irrespective of their geographical location, don’t have a future, every member of this world should worry, because we are in trouble,” said Anyanwu, citing terrorism. “So the more these American families educate the international society, the safer America becomes. The more educated our world is, the safer our world is. If there are weapons to fight terrorism, to fight poverty globally, education should be one of them, if not the No. 1 weapon to fight that.”

Parishes, schools and other organizations can join BIZAA as coalition partners.

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Category: Local News