THORNTON, Colo. — Everyone likes to show off the things they picked up when they get back from vacation, but the pieces of jewelry Angel Mollel brought back from a recent trip to Tanzania aren’t your normal souvenirs.
Her friends and family made the jewelry, and she hopes to sell it to support the village she still calls home.
“I was born and raised in a small Maasai village in northern Tanzania,” Mollel said.
Now a student at the University of Colorado, Angel’s life could have gone in a different direction had her dad not believed strongly in education and enrolled her in a school in a neighboring village.
It was through that school that her family met Tony Matteroli, a volunteer who offered to adopt Mollel and bring her to the U.S. to continue her education.
“I saw the potential in her, and I just knew she had so much in her. I just wanted to give her that opportunity,” Matteroli said.
“When I first came to the states, I attended fifth grade,” Mollel said. “I was a little behind, but I worked super hard, and I've never earned less than a B on my report card.”
One of 16 kids, Mollel always tried to provide educational help for her siblings back in Tanzania. But it was while in high school in Colorado that she started talking about finding new ways to help her family back home.
“I was like, ‘I want to start a nonprofit to help the people,’” she said.
The result was 1Love, a nonprofit that has gotten sponsors to send six students from her village to school this year alone. She has also raised money for community improvements.
“Because we've been successful, we were able to do other projects, like bring water to the village, bring electricity. The electricity just happened December this past year,” Mollel said.
The village also has a shop now where items like handmade jewelry can be sold.
If Mollel has her way, her village will soon have a school of its own.
“I've already gotten a piece of land where I'm going to build a school, so I've kind of started working toward it, but it's a slow process,” she said.
At 22 years old, the 1Love founder knows the opportunities she’s been given are unique, and she wants to use those opportunities to help as many other people in her village as possible.
“I feel like once a kid does receive that education, they can come back later on and help their family further,” Mollel said.
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