Thank You Project – History
In 1998, Charles Uwakwe Okorie left his native Nigeria with his wife, his newborn daughter, and a suitcase of their belongings to start a life in America. With next to nothing, he has built a successful life and seen the good that comes from his faith. Now he is called to give back to those less fortunate. This is his calling.
The THANK YOU Project was formed in 2014. With your help, it will provide three simple needs to Nigerians living in the areas of Ututu, Arochukwu, and Achi:
- Safe drinking water for rural areas
- Scholarships for deserving students
- A community space for worship
Charles Uwakwe Okorie was born in 1963. Although he was fortunate to grow up in a gated community in Nigeria, he could see the poverty and need of his fellow Nigerians the minute he drove out of the gates of the community.
Charles excelled in school, and at the end of fourth grade, his headmaster sat down with Charles’ father, Elder Robinson Okorie Sunday, and recommended that Charles take the common entrance exam with the sixth graders to determine if he was ready to skip fifth and sixth grade and enter into seventh grade.
He passed, and at an age of just under 10 years old Charles was a seventh grader and off to boarding school. “I remember vividly being picked up by the driver every Friday evening in order to get my uniforms washed only to be brought back to school on Sunday evening for the next school week,” Charles recalls.
After high school, Charles wanted to study architecture. He felt the need of his people and was convinced that, as an architect, he would have the ability to affect positive change in his rural Nigeria.
Charles took the JAMB (Joint Admissions & Matriculation Board) exam and chose architecture as his field of study. To his surprise, he was not offered admission on his very first attempt to go to college. “I had thought that my intellect was invincible,” Charles recalls, “I did not know what to do. I had to wait another year to sit for the exam again. In my anguish, I prayed and made a vow to God.” This was his prayer:
“God, if I am able to pass this JAMB exam and get into college to study architecture, I will worship you as long as I live. I will use the fruits of my labor as an architect to glorify your name and to serve humanity.”
The next year, Charles retook the exam. When the JAMB results and scores were published nationwide, he was number one on the list of students offered admission to study architecture in Imo State University. Charles was in total disbelief; “It dawned on me that God had empathetically answered my prayer. Now, it was up to me to fulfill my vow. Now!”
In college, he met his future wife, Ijeoma Igbogbahaka, who was pursuing a doctorate degree in optometry. Charles graduated with a Masters’ degree in Architecture and worked briefly for a firm before incorporating his own Design/Build Company, CBD Designs, in Lagos, Nigeria.
Charles and Ijeoma were married in 1997, and their first daughter was born in 1999. Their future was looking good. In 1999, their lives would suddenly change. Ijeoma received a package from the US Department of State. She was offered a US green card and citizenship. There was one catch—they had to move to the States that year.
Charles remembers, “I was in total shock and felt both deflated and elated because this was not in my plan. Late one night, while I was pondering this, I was convinced that God was making it easier for me to reach my goals in order to fulfill my vow to him.”
It has been fourteen years since Charles and Ijeoma came to the United States, and they have added another daughter and two sons to their beautiful family. While they have built a successful and fulfilling life here, Charles feels uneasy. “I have done nothing for God, my community, and humanity. This is totally unacceptable. If I die today, I really do not have anything to show for all that God has done for me.”
With a renewed sense of purpose, Charles founded The THANK YOU Project in 2014 with a laser focused vision. With your help, he will give back to God by:
- PROVIDING WATER by drilling water boreholes to provide clean drinking water to Ututu and Achi communities.
- ESTABLISHING FULL COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS to indigent students in Nigeria.
- BUILDING A CHURCH in his Nigerian community so others may give thanks to God.
Please, join Charles in bequeathing a legacy to humanity.