By Chandler Lutz


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In December, we met a college student from Nigeria who was preparing to take donated school supplies back to Africa with her. Now she has returned, and she sat down with our Chandler Lutz to talk about the students she helped.

Maryam Yusuf said, “I feel like they stole my heart.”

The flight: 26 hours with two layovers. Maryam Yusuf had a container of 100 backpacks and school supplies. A friend suggested she donate them to a public school in the city of Kano.

“There was 500 (students) in the school,” Maryam said. “And I know I can’t give all 500, but I know I can start from somewhere, because everybody starts from somewhere.

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Maryam showed CBS3’s Chandler Lutz some of the photographs she took: “Some of their uniforms were torn because they sit on the floor. Some didn’t have proper footwear, and this is them just sitting down on the floor. Like, this is their class. It was emotional,” Maryam said.

“I can only imagine their emotions,” CBS3’s Chandler Lutz said. “But what was that like for you, knowing that you could be changing this child’s life?”

“So that was powerful, and I didn’t even have time to process it at that time,” Maryam said.

She recalls being full of emotion as each child thanked her for their new gift: “‘Thank you so much, may God bless you,’ and they were praying for me, and I was like, ‘My God, you don’t have to,'” Maryam said.

Maryam says she could not have done this without her old teacher Ari Bank and the International Student Association at the Community College of Philadelphia, which helped collect the supplies.

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“I’m doing this for every single person who needs help, every single person who is there for me, every single person who has inspired me,” Maryam said.

Maryam graduates next year from West Chester University with a degree in social work and as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

“You’ve completed so much and you’ve given so much,” CBS3’s Chandler Lutz said. “I mean, what’s next for you?”

“If I can have (…) a charity foundation or a charity agency, over here or in my country, that I can keep helping kids when it comes to education, poverty, or like nutrition, I would definitely love, love to do that,” Maryam said.

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