Growing up in Nigeria Victor Jakpor said he didn’t notice the poverty of his village.
“When you’re growing up there you don’t really realize the situation,” he said. You’re used to the system. But then you come to the U.S. and if you stay here a long time you begin to feel every human being should have these simple rights. Everyone should have the right to have food to eat and clean water to drink. You feel people should have a right to an education and basic medical care. There are some simple rights everyone should have. When I was back at home I didn’t care about these things, but after being here for a while you tend to feel that everyone deserves those rights. When you go back to visit you see that distance and you want to bridge that gap.”
Jakpor decided to bridge that gap with the help of friends back home in Ahwatukee Foothills. He started Mission Africa in 2006. The goal of the group is to adopt schools in Nigeria and provide them with a toilet, clean water and textbooks.
Jakpor adopted a school his aunt is principal at first because it had a good structure in place, he said. Over the years the group has helped a second school and now Jakpor has his sights on a third school that is in a different area. That is why Mission Africa recently joined the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce to reach more people in Ahwatukee and help more people in Africa.
“I’m a people person,” he said. “I feel that making a difference is about connecting with others and doing it together. I’d like to see this community in Ahwatukee support this community in Africa and help that community have a better quality of life. I feel the chamber of commerce is a place to start.”
While Mission Africa helps fund toilets, clean water and textbooks, Jakpor said he sees himself as more of a facilitator. He works with the communities in Africa that use the schools and activates them to identify other needs and address those themselves.
People can help Mission Africa through prayer, giving of their time or giving of funds, Jakpor said. A $25 donation provides one child with books for a year. The two schools Mission Africa is currently helping have about 2,200 students.
“It’s our responsibility to care of the less privileged,” Jakpor said. “Giving generously is how we obtain our own happiness. Mission Africa is just a vehicle to obtain that. It’s tough because this is a community in Africa and not a community within the community, but I feel that it helps grow strength when you give. Whether you’re helping locally or overseas it’s the same really. It’s about giving. It just so happens my heart is with the children in Nigeria.”
Mission Africa also works with a group that pays them for collecting used shoes. Used shoes can be dropped in a box at Mountain View Lutheran Church, 11002 S. 48th St. in Ahwatukee. Mission Africa is also searching for businesses willing to set up a box to collect shoes.
Mission Africa will be hosting a luncheon and fashion show on April 20 from noon to 2 p.m. at Mountain View Lutheran. There will be a guest speaker, Jackie Wheeler of “JackieStyle,” and a fashion show from Chicos. For more information, email email@example.com. Mission Africa is run completely by volunteers. One-hundred percent of funds donated go to help students in Africa.
For more information on the group, visit www.missionafrica.org or call (480) 788-3832.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.