Toledo native returns to city, continues work to empower and educate orphans in Africa

TOLEDO – As the holidays approach, one college student is bringing her passion for empowering children in Africa to Toledo.

Crystal Edmunds

Crystal Edmunds, a 2005 alumna of St. Ursula Academy and current graduate student at the University of Denver, was an intern for The Empower Campaign from 2008 to 2009. The Empower Campaign is a non-profit organization, based in Athens, Ohio, dedicated to educating AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda, Africa.

Edmunds will give a presentation about Empower and have a jewelry sale at her high school alma mater on Nov. 24. The handcrafted jewelry is made from recycled paper and has been purchased from cooperatives of women in Uganda at a fair-trade price. The proceeds from jewelry sales have been used to enroll 2,000 children and to begin rebuilding a school in Uganda.

The Empower Campaign was born from a simple request. In 2004, Empower founder Andria Sherrow traveled to Uganda to complete her Masters degree fieldwork in education in rural Africa. After a few weeks volunteering at a local school, Sherrow met a boy standing in the road wearing tattered clothes. In broken English, he said “Help me. I have no parents.”

Sherrow walked with the boy, Muhebwa Richard, to the village school where she learned that both of his parents had died from AIDS and the 12-year-old had no living relatives to care for him. Sherrow conducted interviews with women in the village and with their help, she formed the Empower Campaign, which is part of Sherrow’s larger EDUCATE Foundation.

Empower jewelry, purses and headbands are available online at store.empowercampaign.org. Prices range from $3 to $45. For every $50 raised, Empower can send a child to school in Uganda for a year.

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