Student Scholarship Nightmare

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

Ann Jambi wants to be a doctor. Benson Macharia wants to be an electrician. Francis Kangere wants to be so many things he can't name them all.

All three are natives of Kenya who arrived in Michigan this fall with practically nothing.

"I had seventy dollars," Jambi says.

To here them tell it, they each arranged student visas, applications, and flights with a group called Kenyan organization called "Shelter 2000," thinking tuition, books, room and board, were all paid for here in the U.S..

"I'm the kind that believes in God," Kangere says, "so I just knew it would work out."

Instead, Jackson Community College's international students specialist Kimberly Seaburg says, "They were left here, with nothing."

Seaburg learned about all eleven only after a Jackson family--native to Kenya--had taken them in. The college, with the help of churches and schools in the area, stepped in immediately.

"Having students exported back to Kenya was not an option," says president Dan Phelan. "They came here by no fault of their own...so we were going to do what we needed to make their hopes, their dreams become a reality."

They each now have 2 year scholarships courtesy of JCC, temporary places to stay with families in the community, and the clothes they desperately needed.

College president Dan Phelan is working with legal counsel to be sure federal authorities know about what's happened.

"Shelter 2000" is listed online as a Kenyan organization recommended by the United Nations. We have not found any way to contact the group directly for comment.

Jackson Community College received $1,000 from the group after the students arrived, but "Shelter 2000" has not been in contact since.

The students are simply grateful to have fallen into such generous hands. "I'd just like to say God bless them," Macharia says.

All but 2 of the 11 who arrived are still in the Jackson-area and despite the circumstances, plan to return home the graduates they intend to be.

"I don't care how long it takes me," Jambi says. "After I study, I go home."


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