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Give Back NH: BRING IT! After School

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NHPR / Emily Quirk
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Simfora Bangasimbo moved to Manchester from a refugee camp in Tanzania when she was 10 years old, and came up through the BRING IT! After School program. This fall she'll move to Switzerland to begin a masters degree program in International Relations.

Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights nonprofit organizations across the Granite State. It airs every other Saturday at 9:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition. Every nonprofit organization has a unique mission and a different story to tell.

Brendan McCafferty (Principal): My name is Brendan McCafferty. I'm a native of Manchester. I grew up one street over. I'm the principal Hillside Middle School where the program resides. And I started the program 16 years ago with Hector Urrea. The acronym stood for Bringing Refugees, Immigrants and Neighbors Gently into Tomorrow.

So, in other words, connecting the newcomers with the locals, which is always going to be your newest iteration of what is Manchester. So we started with some soccer, some dance, and 16 years later it led to many more things.

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NHPR / Emily Quirk
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In addition to receiving help with homework and a warm meal, kids are encourage to connect with one another through a variety of activities... with soccer being a favorite choice.

Doug LeClerc (Operations Manager): My name is Douglas LeClerc. I am the operations manager for BRING IT. Currently, a lot of the students we work with come from Eastern Africa. So countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. So we have a lot of students speaking Swahili, a lot of students speaking Kinyarwanda. This year we've been getting a lot of new students from Brazil speaking Portuguese.

Communication can be an issue sometimes, but fortunately for us, we were able to hire some diverse staff members that actually used to be program participants for us. So we have staff who speaks, community, speaks Kinyarwanda, speaks Swahili, speaks French. So it's really nice for a lot of our newer students that can come here and get support in their native language.

Simfora Bangasimbo (Assistant Director): My name is Simfora Bangasimbo, and I was born in Tanzania and a refugee camp. But I'm Congolese...my parents are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I've been with BRING IT since 2009. I started out as a student, and now I work here.

As a newcomer, I didn't know English, so I needed a lot of help at first. But [BRINGT IT!] was also a place to just go hang out with friends where we can learn the American system together, play soccer together, dance together, and just feel like you're not alone.

I graduated [college] in 2020. I got into a master's program in Switzerland, so I'll be going in September, mostly focusing on human rights and humanitarianism. This program..it didn't save me, but it helped me a lot. I think I would have been very lost without it.

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Manchester natives Brendan McCafferty & Doug LeClerc run the day to day operations of BRING IT! After School.

Doug Leclerc: For anyone not aware of our program, I think it's a great opportunity for anyone to reach out to us and learn about us or stop by to even visit us.

We are also always looking for donations, not necessarily always financial, but we've had people who have reached out providing soccer cleats for the kids, providing school supplies for the kids, some people who have stepped up to provide meals and sponsored meals for the kids each night.

When I was growing up, I had no idea that our city was so diverse, and that we had these great programs going on. So I think that it would be great for anyone to stop by and see what's going on in our city, and learn about how we are trying to provide as much support possible for families that really need it.
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How to get involved:

Find out more about the BRING IT! After School program, here. You can make a donation or find volunteer opportunities, here.

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Doug LeClerc
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The BRING IT After School program provides warm meals for its kids.

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