Nate Gartrell, EDN
The parents of Nima Gibba, an 11-year-old Eugene girl killed, along with three others, by a drunk driver in 2009, have started a charity foundation in her name and are now set to commence fundraising efforts.
Eliman Gibba, Nima’s father, and Alexandra Sianis, her stepmother, decided to form the foundation, called Nima’s Wish, in order to preserve what they called their daughter’s “giving spirit.” Through the foundation they hope to raise money to help impoverished citizens in Gambia, where some of Nima’s ancestry is based.
“[Nima] had such a yearning to help others, especially animals and kids,” Sianis said. “We’ve been hurting for two and a half years. So to carry that on for her gives us a sense of peace.”
As part of their fundraising efforts, Eliman and Sianis have recently started a Nima’s Wish webpage and hope to hold their first fundraising event, a musical concert, in early 2012.
Eliman and Sianis decided to form the foundation after traveling to West Africa in late 2010 and taking note of ways they could help people there. They identified numerous problems, including a lack of advanced farming techniques and technology; and the use of inefficient wood-burning stoves, which increase the chance of lung disease and can be harmful to local climates.
“The people cut a lot of wood and deforestation is creeping in.” said Gibba of conditions in Gambia and Senegal, where the couple visited.
To combat these problems, Eliman and Sianis have collaborated with Aprovecho, a Cottage Grove-based, non-profit group that’s dedicated to manufacturing and distributing super-efficient rocket stoves which reduce toxic gas emissions and increases the amount of heat produced per unit of fuel.
Additionally, Eliman said, the foundation will use donations to provide food, water and clothing to impoverished West Africans.
Eliman is a Gambian citizen, with ancestry in Senegal, which he says will help the Nima’s Wish foundation logistically, in terms of getting aid quickly to people who need it.
“When I’m looking at what we can do, I’m not looking at my family,” Eliman said. “I’m looking at what Sianis and I can do to improve life over there.”
Eliman added that he and Sianis don’t harbor hate for the person responsible for Nima’s death and just want to focus on the “giving back program” they’ve started in her honor.
Members of the public interested in helping Nima’s Wish Foundation can send donations to P.O. Box 2497, Eugene, OR, 94705. They can also visit the Nima’s Wish website, or the Nima’s Wish Facebook page.