Imani Elad ’19 Makes Christmas Possible for Orphans in Cameroon

Though Imani Elad lives in Menands, the west African nation of Cameroon is never far from her mind.  Both of Imani’s parents were born in Cameroon, and much of her extended family still calls it home.  Since she was seven, Imani has spent Christmases there. During her trips, Imani visits HOTPEC Orphanage in Buea. 

Her time at the orphanage was always a highlight of holiday season in Cameroon, but Imani admits that she would find herself in tears when it was time to leave. She especially enjoyed spending time with the babies at HOTPEC, and was deeply affected to see the conditions in which the children lived. 

Back home, Imani reflected on how lucky she is, and wanted to take action.  She commented, “I knew I couldn’t fix all of their lives, but I could at least try and give a semblance of the life I had and give them something to look forward to every year.” 

For several years, after returning home, Imani has devoted considerable time to collecting donations from family, friends, churches and online fundraising sites.  She uses the money to purchase gifts, which she packs into suitcases and transports across the ocean for the children of HOTPEC.  Each year, Imani has managed to increase donations to help more children.  In 2016, she brought nine suitcases to Cameroon. This year, it was thirteen!  Imani laughs when she talks about waiting for more than ten pieces of luggage at the airport, but the stress of the baggage claim pales in comparison to the joy she feels by giving back.