PEI

How one man is honouring his mom by giving back to immigrants

A P.E.I. man originally from Nigeria is donating some proceeds from his business to help immigrants. Funds will be raised through clothing sales and pop up parties.

'I want to try and help'

Charles Aondo sports a hat and hoodie with the Ruth's logo, He says as an immigrant he felt he was 'slammed' with extra fees so he wants to try and help others. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Charles Aondo wants to help immigrants with his business idea — he's setting up a clothing company and event business to help raise money for a special immigrant fund. Aondo is originally from Nigeria, but has lived on P.E.I. for about 10 years. 

"It's basically a fund to help immigrants whenever they need," said Aondo. 

Charles Aondo says the umbrella logo is symbolic of togetherness, and help. He named the clothing and immigration fund after his late mother, Ruth Aondo. 'It is to honour her,' he said. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He said he's trying to create another option for immigrants, to give them some more resources and reduce some of the stress involved in coming to a new country. 

"It sort of gives them a little bolster. It's just something to help them."

'Take the stress away'

He said as an international student he struggled to keep up with extra fees he had to pay, and regulations also limited how much he could work. 

"This is coming from experiences that I've gone through," Aondo said. 

Shelanna Cole models a hat and a hoodie at a recent promotional photo shoot. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He said applications for work permits, visas, and hiring agents and lawyers all add up. 

"I want to try and help," he said. "Just to take the stress away." 

In honour of his mom

The clothing has an umbrella logo and "Ruth's," on it. The fund is also called Ruth's immigration fund, both named in honour of his late mom, Ruth Aondo, who died in 2016. 

Charles Aondo described his mom, Ruth Aondo, as 'the greatest.' (Submitted by Charles Aondo)

"She is everything I needed in every phase of my life," said Aondo

He hopes the name and umbrella logo will become a recognized symbol of help and togetherness. 

$5 from every sale

The plan is to donate $5 from every sale, whether it's clothing merchandise or ticket sales for events.

 "Of every purchase someone makes, $5 will always, always go to the fund," Aondo said. 

Aondo, second from left, stands with a group involved in a photo shoot to promote Ruth's clothing. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Aondo hopes to help about 12 immigrants each year, and estimates each one would receive about $500 in help.

He also wants to share their stories on a website. 

Known for his passion

Ibrah Sanoh, a friend of Aondo who played soccer with him at Holland College, is also familiar with the cost associated with being an immigrant — he came to P.E.I. from Guinea in western Africa. 

"He's giving something back to the community," said Sanoh. 

He described Aondo as unique. 

"He is actually really smart and the way he sees things is different from everybody else. When he has a vision he's passionate about it," he said. 

"I don't think anything can stop him."

The Ruth's clothing website is set up for orders and pop-up party events will begin at Sugar Skull Cantina in Charlottetown next month. 

"I hope it takes off," Aondo said. 

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About the Author

Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.

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