BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of teenagers in Brighton, and their families, came together to surprise a student at Brighton High School, who has spent the past several years giving back to her homeland of Tanzania. Angel Mollel, a 17-year-old junior at Brighton High, moved to Colorado after she was adopted.
She spent the majority of her childhood in Tanzania, living in small villages with dated technology and housing lifestyles. However, she always wanted to pursue higher education.
“Maasai girls don’t go to school. Usually, when you reach the age of 12, or 13, you get married, and your dad gets five cows,” Mollel said. “But, my dad always believed in education.”
Mollel’s father agreed to let an American man, who frequently gave back to the village, adopt Mollel, and bring her to Colorado for a better life and education.
Since her adoption, Mollel has thrived in American schools. She also gained many friends, and founded “One Love,” a nonprofit organization which supports the Maasai people in Tanzania. Thanks to her work, she has helped many children in Africa go to school, build homes, and more.
“I just want to help those kids go to school,” Mollel said. “It is so important to not ever forget where you are from.”
Mollel often speaks with her family back in Tanzania via Skype. She has shared photos, videos and more with her friends, to show them what her home was like. Some of her friends said they knew she was passionate about helping her people, ever since they met her.
“Angel is the most giving person that I have ever met,” said Rachel Morris, a senior at Brighton High School.
“Her heart is dedicated to giving back to where she is from,” said Savanna Anderson, a senior at Brighton High.
After hearing of an unfortunate situation that happened back in Tanzania, many of Mollel’s friends came together to surprise her.
Students, and parents, raised more than $1,400 for Mollel, without her knowing. After dinner, during a trip for a softball tournament, her closest friends gave her a balloon with a note in it.
“I used a crab leg, and just popped it,” Mollel said.
The note informed her of the fundraiser, and how her friends hoped it would help her be able to go back to Tanzania to be with family.
“Oh my gosh. Immediately, just tears came to my eyes. I couldn’t read anymore, I couldn’t breathe,” Mollel said. “It was the most happiest, overwhelming, moment of my life.”
Mollel’s friends told her she could either use the money to buy a plane ticket, or she could choose to spend it in any other way she felt necessary.
After giving it some thought, and overcoming her tears of joy, Mollel decided not to fly back home. Because she already has plans to fly home in 2020 to celebrate her high school graduation, she chose to use the money for “One Love.” The money was donated to her non-profit, and is set to help fund the educations of several more students in Tanzania.
“It honestly is people coming together (for another),” Anderson said.
Mollel said she was overwhelmed by the actions of her peers. She said she never expected her friends to be so kind.
Many of her friends told CBS Denver she was a blessing in their lives, and they wanted to be the same for her.
“I just can’t wait to help other people with the money you raised,” Mollel told her friends.