How one man is honouring his mom by giving back to immigrants
'I want to try and help'
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.
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.
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.
"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 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.