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Wednesday, 02 May 2012 10:38

Pay It Forward: John D. Loeks, Celebration Cinemas

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Pay It Forward: John D. Loeks, Celebration Cinemas PHOTO: T.J. Hamilton
It was faith and family that inspired John Loeks, president of Celebration Cinemas, to put his business connections to use for children in the West African nation of Sierra Leone.

Loeks started the nonprofit Schools for Sierra Leone, which supports the work of Kabala Christian Schools. Located in the Koinadugu District in Sierra Leone’s northern province, the capital Kabala, for which the school is named, has a population of around 15,000 people.

Loeks visited the village not long ago on the insistence of his son-in-law Aaron Kortenhoven, who grew up in Kabala and whose parents were missionaries in the area for 25 years.

After returning from the trip – struck with the firsthand revelations of what the reality is for people living in post civil war Sierra Leone – Loeks set out to engage his contemporaries in effort to raise money for building educational infrastructure in the village.

“It looked to us like, here were all these really bright kids, but none really have a chance in the modern world,” Loeks said. “For a while we stood back and thought about this.”

Loeks said he believes education is the place where people can do the most good and the least harm, unlike so many efforts that Americans have undertaken that later become fraught with problems. He wanted to give something with value that didn’t create false dependencies and that could become self-sustaining over time.

Workers recently finished installing solar power to the middle school, and Loeks’ hope now is that he can raise enough funds to begin building a high school.

“The most fundamental thing we can engage in is education. It directly contributes to a better economy, more food, clean water and housing,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to help these people, and that is the way to a more peaceful world.”

Read 1996 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 22:54

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