Next Gen 2019: Anna Rago
Event Coordinator, Pamoza Gala
Anna Rago was a sixth grader when she first discovered the African republic of Malawi through Pamoza International, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that aids the people in one of the least developed and poorest countries on the planet. “They focus a lot on education,” says Rago, whose commitment to Malawi continues as she looks toward her senior year at Villa Maria Academy.
Shortly after she learned about the country, Rago participated in Spark the Wave, a camp focused on leadership training and community service, and later organized the Miles for Malawi 5K run. She also hosted a screening of Girl Rising, a 2013 documentary on the educational struggles of girls in underdeveloped countries. “We raised funds from that and were able to give scholarships to two girls for another year of high school,” she says.
A year ago this June, Rago traveled to Malawi, learning about local businesses and agriculture and experiencing the classrooms. She even joined students on their three-mile walks to school in the morning and evening—often in the dark, on paths with poisonous snakes. “It was one of the most amazing mission trips I’ve ever done,” says Rago.
Motivated by her trip, Rago organized the inaugural Pamoza Gala, which took place this past March and raised more than $31,000 for the cause. Pamoza is also working on integrating urban planning and sustainability into the Malawi communities. “By hosting this gala, we hoped we could raise awareness and funds and inspire everyone to continue their work,” she says. “I want to be able to inspire as many people as I can and hopefully initiate change.”