Junction High students raise $15,000 so Kenyan kids can go to school

Moses Boyee Okonji, director of the Inspiration Centre in Mathare, Kenya, speaks Monday during a student assembly at Grand Junction High School, thanking students and staff for their contributions to his One Starfish At a Time program. Through local efforts, $15,000 was raised to help Okonji build a five-story apartment complex and clinic in the impoverished Mathare. Rent from the apartments is intended to create a self-sustaining fund to pay for children’s education, which costs $750 a year per student.

A scholarship program in Africa received $15,000 Monday morning thanks to the work of Grand Junction High School students and staff.

The school began raising funds about a month ago for the Inspiration Centre in impoverished Mathare, Kenya. The center provides church services, meals and a scholarship fund to help send Mathare children to schools. The average adult in Mathare makes about $1 per day, according to Inspiration Centre Director Moses Boyee Okonji.

“If you make $1 a day and school fees are $750 a year, that means that you’ll never be able to send your kids to school,” Okonji explains in a fundraising video on youcaring.com.

Okonji came up with the idea to build a five-story apartment complex with a clinic on the ground floor and to use rent money to create a self-sustaining fund for the scholarship program. After a mission trip to Mathare by members of local Heart of Junction church this summer, two Grand 
Junction High students who went on the trip decided to help raise money for construction of the apartment and clinic building, according to GJHS African literature teacher Sutton Casey. Casey, the Grand Junction High football team with coach Robbie Owens and National Honor Society volunteers Lori Holloway and Carla King helped lead the fundraising effort.

Students and volunteers placed change jars in every Grand Junction High classroom and at some local businesses and urged local business owners to donate to the cause. Heart of Junction also contributed to the effort.

Students alone raised $4,000 through contributions to the change jars. The winning classroom gets to celebrate with a root beer float party.

The high school presented a check to Okonji and his wife, Celmali Jaime, at a school assembly Monday morning.

“I’m so proud of our student body for embracing this project,” Casey said.

“It really meant a lot to our kids to be able to contribute to something so far away but so meaningful.”

The construction project will cost an estimated $200,000 to complete. Donations are still being accepted at http://www.youcaring.com/other/-one-starfish-at-a-time/86403.


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