LYNN — When Princess Guwor arrived to her family’s home country of Liberia last December, she arrived with more than just a suitcase.
The Lynn native gave 85 Liberian students much-needed pens, pencils, and notebooks. When she was forced to turn away more than 100 students because she had no more supplies to hand out, she said she knew something needed to be done. She came back to Massachusetts and launched her own non-profit, The Kumba Foundation, INC.
“We had to turn away at least 100 kids and it made me feel really bad,” said Guwor. “The kids were looking at me like ‘where is mine?’ . . . We take these things for granted in America and these kids are in major need of it.”
By the end of January, the paperwork to launch The Kumba Foundation, INC, was signed and it was official. The 24-year-old said she was guided along for the process by her coworker at Marshall Middle School, where Guwor works as a paraprofessional, who started her own non-profit to help her son with a difficult disease.
Other than a friend in Louisiana helping to spread the word, Guwor said she’s done this all on her own. Since the foundation became an official organization, she has worked to get grants from a variety of foundations so she can go back to Liberia in December with more school supplies.
She started a campaign to sponsor 200 students from The Malachi Elementary School in Montserrado County, in the Liberian neighborhood where Guwor’s family stayed. She said she needs to raise at least $20,000 to be able to buy all the school supplies they need.
“I figured out what I want to do in life,” said Guwor. “I feel like I found my purpose.”
Aside from last December, Guwor had not visited her family’s home country in 18 years, she said. Her mom died in 2012 and she and her family have been trying to make the trip back ever since, but some of them had to figure out their citizenship statuses before getting the OK to travel, she said.
“The name ‘Kumba’ is a dedication to my mother,” Guwor said. “Her passing had a huge impact in my life. Kumba was known for her generosity, so naming the foundation after her is fitting.”
Guwor said the educational system in Liberia was destroyed during the Second Liberian Civil War, which began in 1999 and ended in 2003. The war took a toll on the country, its people, and its ability to self-sustain, she said.
The Liberian school system has been unable to provide students with school supplies for quite some time, Guwor said. With salaries of $100 a month and the necessary costs of school fees and food, Liberian parents are almost never able to afford the supplies for their children.
Seeing it firsthand last December, Guwor said it really opened her eyes to how much Americans take for granted and how unexposed they are to what’s going on in countries like Liberia. She said her main purpose is just to raise awareness.
“I feel like it’s God pushing me through because I know I don’t have to do this,” said Guwor. “I have this fire in me that just won’t stop. It just keeps going.”