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A group shot of students with their new backpacks.

A group shot of students with their new backpacks.

Sophomore Mika Ley Makes Holiday Statement with Backpacks for Hope

During her Christmas break, sophomore Mika Ley went home to the Philippines with a purpose. Inspired by a desire to give back to her community, Ley created Backpacks for Hope, a program that, in just its first project, donated 75 backpacks full of school supplies to children in need in the Philippines. Additionally, she provided dinner baskets for five families for Noche Buena, the Filipino Christmas Eve celebration.

Mika Ley, a biology and public health double major, is an international student from the Philippines. As the outreach coordinator for Barkada, the Filipino student organization, Ley wanted to find a way to give back to her community at home in a meaningful way. Through Backpacks for Hope, participants could make a $10 donation that would cover the costs of a backpack full of school supplies and hygiene products for underprivileged children in Manila.

“I wanted Christmas for these kids to be as special as Christmas is for everyone. I think everyone deserves a meaningful Christmas,” Ley said.

Mika Ley shares a laugh with a student in Manila.

Mika Ley shares a laugh with a student in Manila.

In addition to providing hygiene products in the backpack, Ley collaborated with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children and Children’s International to put together an informational youth empowerment workshop to “teach them about personal hygiene and nutritious foods,” Ley said. “It coincided nicely with what we did because we gave them personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, so they were able to really practice with these things and not just learn about them, but take what they learned and use it.”

Ley plans to take the lessons she learns at SCU back to medical school in the Philippines. This summer, she’ll participate in a fellowship at a government hospital. During the fellowship, Ley will shadow doctors and learn about the way things are done with the hospital’s limited resources. “They just do the best with what they have,” she explained.

Ley seems to have found her home here at Santa Clara, especially in her outreach role. When asked why she chose SCU, Ley replied “I really like how Santa Clara is social justice-based. They are, similar to myself, all about action and what we learn about in class. We’re encouraged to take classes like [Experiential Learning for Social Justice] and go forth in the community. I think that’s really important to me.”

To learn more about Backpacks for Hope, follow this link to a video published by SCU Barkada.

 

A group shot of students with their new backpacks.