In 2002, an idea was born in a seminary dorm room that has blossomed into something far bigger than we ever could have imagined. The idea was to support the educational dreams of needy children. In the beginning the goals were not ambitious: Simply sponsor eight needy children’s tuition in Kenya for $450. This small sum of money was enough to provide a life-changing education for an entire year. Since those early years, our mission and vision has expanded, but our initial ideals have not. Education is an opportunity to transform one’s life. It is something that can never be taken away. It crosses any border, any religion, and any ethnicity. The Saint Nektarios Education Fund reaches out to any tribe, ethnicity, or religious group, because knowledge develops the human character in a way few things can.
After years of successfully providing scholarships, in 2008 the Saint Nektarios Education Fund launched its most ambitious project. Using our donor base, we set out to organize, fund, design, and construct a school of our own. The project we completed in 2009 sought to empower a local community by supporting their efforts to construct their own school. Forming a local construction board, using local planning and local oversight on donated land, the foundation of the fund’s “heart” took shape: Help those who wish to help themselves. Since then the fund has completed four additional schools while maintaining over 95% efficiency with our donors’ contributions. The Saint Nektarios Education Fund is a Colorado-based 501c(3) nonprofit organization open to anyone who wishes to tangibly contribute to the life of a child through education.
Who is Saint Nektarios?
Saint Nektarios was born on October 1, 1846, in Selymbria in Thrace to a poor family. His given name was Anastasios Cephalas. At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) to work and further his education. In 1866 he left to the island of Chios to take a teaching post. He then became a monk at the age of thirty. Saint Nektarios (1846–1920), Metropolitan of Pentapolis and Wonderworker of Aegina, was officially recognized as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1961. His feast day is celebrated on November 9. He is often referred to as Nektarios of Pentapolis or Nektarios of Aegina.
Father Evan Armatas writes, “My dear friend Father Athanasios Masaba Akunda was a lover of Saint Nektarios. When we first decided to send some aid to a few students back in 2002, Father Athanasios immediately wanted to put our efforts under Saint Nektarios’ name. Father Athanasios is an African and a lover of education. As a Kenyan, Father Athanasios had a deep love not just for his home country, but for the African continent in general. Growing up in a remote village, he personally experienced what education can mean to a young, poor child. He was fortunate to receive an elementary school education as a child. From there he went on to high school, then college in Nairobi, and completed a Master’s degree in the United States and Ph.D. work in India. Saint Nektarios, like my friend, was an African, and he too received a life-changing education. Using this education, Saint Nektarios became an educator for the poor. He oversaw schools and mentored students, working to form young people intellectually and spiritually. He changed their lives, forming them into something far beyond what they could ever have imagined. His tools were not just books and classrooms, but also his exemplary life. He taught by the way he lived, being the example he wanted to see in others. He worked many wonders during his life. Today he is revered not just in Africa, but in many countries throughout the world as his life and love of education have become better known. Our fund seeks to continue the transformation of lives through education. We seek to model daily the examples set by my friend Fr. Athanasios and by Saint Nektarios.”