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Street Priest


Advocating for the rights of children; facilitating access to education; educating the public on child rights, these activities sound like the workings of a large, established philanthropic organization. But this impressive record of humanitarian works was started just 3 years ago by an 18-year-old teenager who was once a street kid.

James Okina, turned to shoplifting and stealing from classmates when his parents divorced at the age of eight. Unhappy with his home situation, Okina spent too much time away from home and mixed with what he terms the ‘wrong friends”. His grades crashed and he was constantly in trouble. During those turbulent days, Okina knew full well that he was not living the life that was right for him but there was no one to pull him out. A visiting cousin whom he admired, inspired him to change his ways and turn back to focusing on his studies. Okina feels that “Society is very quick to label people as bad or wrong. People are not looking for someone to tell them that what they are doing is wrong. They are looking for someone to take them out.” However, it wasn’t until a chance meeting with a few street kids with similar broken past, did Okina decide that he needed to do more. Though short of funds himself as he was awaiting admission to the University, he managed to convince a church friend to provide for the education of the street kids that he had met. Today, Street Priest has raised enough funds for the education of 215 children and has a network of 50 volunteers. Okina says “In a time when people tend to hold the government or the clergy responsible for change in society, you can help with what you have from where you are”.

This story first appeared in BBC.com

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