By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – As a seventh grader at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury, Jaehyun (Jae) Lee knew that he wanted to make a difference in the world. At the time, his grandfather, Nak-Sung Choi, was running the Soroti Vision School, a Christian nursery and primary school in Uganda, which he had founded four years earlier. As a way to raise money and awareness for his grandfather's school, Lee founded a club he called G-Mad – “Globally Make a Difference.”
Now a sophomore at Shrewsbury High School (SHS), Lee continues to run G-Mad and remains determined to make a difference in the lives of Ugandan school children.
Seven years ago, Nak-Sung Choi believed that he
was called by God to go to Uganda, as a missionary, and use to his money to educate children there.
“My grandfather obeyed God's call and went to Uganda,” Lee said. “Though he never went to college, he is an extremely intelligent man who worked in architecture. He built the Soroti Vision School himself with hired workers.”
“Now, he has a house (which he also built himself)?right next to the school. He works around the school by cleaning, teaching kids, and making other decisions like teachers’ pay. My grandmother, Myung-Yun Kim, also helps around the school by teaching kids and planning fun events for them.”
The Soroti Vision School includes both a nursery school (preschool and kindergarten) and a primary school (grades 1 to 7). There are 10 teachers, three cooks, and a small maintenance staff.
The best part about the Soroti Vision School, Lee noted, is that it is free to attend – not the norm in Uganda. When selecting students, the school officials choose the poorer children instead of the wealthier ones. Lee has made it his mission to help these children and support the school through G-Mad.
“The focus of G-Mad is to love the children of Soroti Vision School. Our mission is to end poverty through love and education,” he said. “In the Bible, there is a passage about the importance of using the gifts that God has given. We want the students to use the blessings that they have received to glorify God's name.”
G-Mad has 30 members and is overseen by biology teacher advisor, Annemarie Duggan. This fall the group ran the “25 Dollar Challenge” – a fundraiser which required each member to collect $25 and talk to at least five people about helping the Ugandan school children. The fundraiser raised $300 which was used to purchase soccer balls for the school.
G-Mad is currently organizing a kid's night out event which would offer babysitting services for parents. Its basketball fundraiser in March at the Oak Middle School gym will be the club's biggest fundraiser of the year.
G-Mad meets every Monday afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m. in room A101 at the High School. The group welcomes any student who is seeking to help others.
“As a club, we know that it is only possible to live happily if you live for others,” Lee said. “We do not give the school this help through pity, but think very highly of the students and give out of love. Someday, we expect them to achieve great things and help others as well.”
The G-Mad Club officers are Jaehyun Lee, president; Monica Bhakri, vice president; Elizabeth George, secretary; Will Wright, historian; and Jaeyoung Lee, treasurer.