Until a few years ago, the last time he saw his hometown, Victor Jakpor was 19 years old. He went back to Sepele, the village where he grew up, in 2004. His mother had just passed away and it was the first time he had gone back in more than 25 years.

What he saw upon his return sparked a passion that would grow over the coming years.

Sepele, a village in Nigeria, was very different from when he left it as a youth coming to America to pursue a higher education.

“I saw the hopelessness in the community,” he said. “It’s not the place I left. You go to the primary school and there is no roof. The principal of that school called me and said there are kids not going to school for different reasons and there is nothing we can do to assist them.”

But Jakpor wasn’t about to let what he saw fall by the wayside.

“I asked myself what I can do to make a difference,” he said. “That’s when we started Mission Africa.”

At 48 years old, Jakpor is an insurance agent but his free time is dedicated to rebuilding the educational system and increase the livelihood of the people of Sepele.

Since officially starting Mission Africa five years ago, those involved with the organization have made a positive impact at different educational facilities there as well as installed clean water drinking wells and built facilities to help with sanitation.

“When they see the support from overseas, they know there are people out there helping and you see a lot of growing in the process,” he said. “I think it is going to continue to impact their lives and things just keep getting better.”

Jakpor said he goes back once per year to help with current projects and speak with the children there.

“There are so many questions from the kids and everyone wants to come to America,” he said.

On Sunday, Aug. 26, Mission Africa will have a booth at the Ahwatukee Foothills Farmers Market, 4700 E. Warner Road, where visitors can find out more information and donate to Jakpor’s cause. It is open from 8 to 11 a.m.

He stated that every $25 donated will provide a full-year set of textbooks for a child in Sepele. Donations and more information can also be found at www.missionafrica.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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