Kelly McGonigle: Backpacks for Myanmar

In December, 16-year-old Kelly McGonigle and his family travelled to the Thailand-Burma border with four giant duffel bags containing a special delivery: Backpacks for medics who must carry supplies for miles through hazardous jungle terrain to provide, in most cases, the only health care services in Burma’s eastern border region. Kelly came up with the Backpacks for Burma idea for his final Eagle Scout project, collecting more than 175 used backpacks to benefit our local partners, the Karen Department of Health and Welfare, the Mae Tao Clinic and the Back Pack Health Workers Team. As part of the project, Kelly made sure the packs were cleaned and repaired — and hand-delivered.

“I wanted to do something different for my Eagle Scout project, something that would actually affect and improve the lives of a group of people in need,” said Kelly, whose parents are longtime supporters of Community Partners International. “CPI seemed like the perfect choice, because I was able to help a group of innocent, yet suffering, individuals.

“It is nice to know that I have been able to help out such kind people who are in such a time of struggle,” said Kelly, who received his Eagle Scout award in January, and will be a high school senior in Orinda, California, in the fall. “The best part was seeing the smiles on their faces when they actually got to take the backpacks out and try them on. That moment was priceless because it showed how the things that we take for granted here in the Bay Area and America are truly appreciated in other parts of the world.”