James okina nigeria, 17
project: street priests
basich human NEEDS: Education, food, health, safety, shelter
Theme Song: “Hall of Fame” by Will.i.am
When his parents separated, James’ family was split up and he went to live with his father. Feeling lost and lonely James turned to a gang for a sense of belonging. Fortunately, he came out on the other side. James founded Street Priests to address the societal challenge of street children and prevent youth at risk. Focusing on early childhood and teenage years, Street Priests have successfully taken 300 young people off the streets and reduced petty crime in their community. More than 250 children have benefitted from their Captain Nourish Program, which distributes food, holds events and educates kids on the dangers of substance use.
To ensure their community’s youth receives a quality education, Street Priests provides free tutoring, as well as coordination of school enrollment. Recognizing the importance of family involvement, their Household Strengthening Program works to emotionally and financially support at-risk families to prevent their children from street life. Beyond his community, James led the “Each One Reach One” campaign to prevent and spread awareness about street life. His plans for the upcoming year include opening a rehab center and a skill acquisition and empowerment program for single mothers. In time, James hopes to expand Street Priests to other Nigerian states.