Project Kenya raises funds

Through successful fundraising and donations, 14-year-old Anne from Kenya will be able to obtain an education at a boarding school in Kenya.

In the American education system, our transition from elementary school, to middle school and then to high school is usually paid for by federal and state governments.

In Kenya, high schools are private and of the boarding school nature. Fees are about $2,000 a year to attend a good school and cover tuition, uniform, accommodations and pocket money. Opportunities for girls to attend are rarer than for boys.
Several years ago, a woman and Sister of Mercy, Helen Khisa, came from Kenya to attend Mercyhurst.  She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education.
Katie Felong photo: Juma thanks those involved in raising funds to bring his daughter from Kenya to Erie for schooling.Katie Felong photo: Juma thanks those involved in raising funds to bring his daughter from Kenya to Erie for schooling.
As she was ready to graduate, her community back in Kenya, raised money for a member of her family to come over. That person was her brother, Anthony “Juma” Khisa and he would return to Erie and Mercyhurst to get his bachelor’s degree.
Juma, now a senior studying computer systems, plans to return again to Kenya after graduation to open up a computer college in “those [geographic] areas are where the technology is growing.”

He would like to primarily service, “those still in high school, but for those on school break” who wanted to increase their skills.”

During all of this, news of another Khisa family member wanted to come to Mercyhurst. Hopes arisen to bring Anne, Juma’s daughter, to Erie to study at Mercyhurst Preparatory School. Unfortunately, her visa was delayed, so she had to stay in Kenya.

Anne is considered an excellent student. Her intelligence was acknowledged in the fifth grade, granting her to sit in on sixth grade exams.The principal of her school noticed her potential, and wanted to help her. “He always wanted to help people who wished to have an education,” Juma said.

When word of this came to Executive Director of Wellness Judy Smith, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Life Gerry Tobin, Ph.D. and Mercyhurst President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., they asked Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) to help launch fundraising efforts to help pay for Anne’s education in Kenya.

Gamble additionally offered to match the funds raised at the events.
MSG responded by organizing three events to help support Anne’s education: a portion of the funds from the Rowing Team’s Endurowthon event, profits from the Spring Charity Ball and the Kenyan Benefit Dinner.
Before the event, Juma laughed and talked with the Egan staff. “When it came to food, that was their idea… That really surprised me, especially how they prepared the food, and how the food looked exactly like it did in Kenya.”

Upon entering Egan Hall guests saw, shiny silver buffet dishes filled with colorful foods, such as: Samosas (deep fried potato pastries), Sukuma Wiki (simmered collared greens) and Kuku Paka (chicken curry).

The Romantic Era, provided entertainment and played a set of soft, upbeat songs.

The dinner began at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 5, featuring national dishes. Wristbands and tickets were sold in advance and at the door.

Following the dining, MSG played a video about the benefit and how it began. Baskets were raffled featuring African, Mercyhurst and movie themes.
Thanks to the Mercyhurst Rowing Team, MSG, Juma and the Mercyhurst staff the fundraising so far has been successful.

To further help Anne with her education, remember to attend the Spring Charity Ball.