NORFOLK, Neb. -- Dr. Joe Mtika had been living in Our Town Norfolk for about 15 years when he assisted three of his nieces in immigrating from Malawi to the United States, and attending Northeast Community College & Wayne State College. With that accomplished, Dr. Mtika was inspired to do more.
"After, you know, getting my share of the education, I was looking at something that I could give back to the country that I came from," Dr. Mtika said.
In 2012, Dr. Mtika contacted Norfolk Public Schools to see if they would assist him in starting a college prep high school in Africa.
"I went to Norfolk Public Schools," Dr. Mtika said. "I'm like, they should be able to give me some heads up or some tricks, how I can go about this?"
The local school system agreed to donate some used computers that were going to be thrown away.
"There's so many things that we take for granted in the United States are actually gold in other countries, and especially third world countries," said Dr. Mtika.
It took a lot of time and persistence, but in 2015, Dr. Mtika partnered with Norfolk's Orphan Grain Train to get his computers and school supplies shipped to Africa.
"God has opened a door that I never thought it would be opened," he said.
In the Fall of 2015, Dr. Mtika opened a school that he named "Norfolk School in Malawi" and has been raising the standard of education there ever since.
But what might be most impressive is that through technology, Dr. Mtika is able to run his school in southern Africa right from Norfolk, Nebraska.
Malawi is 9,000 miles away and 8 hours ahead of Central Standard Time in America, so as school is getting underway in Africa, Dr. Mtika starts communicating with the people running his school at midnight in Norfolk. The 54-year-old usually goes to sleep at about 2 a.m., then wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to go to his full-time job where he's a new products manager.
Dr. Mtika is giving young African students educational options they never had before, and last year, three students graduated from Norfolk Schools in Malawi, and each of them are now in Norfolk taking classes at Northeast Community College.
Last year, Dr. Mtika was recognized as the runner-up for the Norfolk Area Person of the Year Award for his creating his own school in Africa and for his efforts in creating a sister-city relationship between Norfolk and Blantyre, Malawi.