As OXFAM prepare to end its mission in Liberia, the hope of at least eighteen females in various tertiary institutions is about to be dashed.
The OXFAM Girls’ Education Empowerment Project (OXGEEP) runs a scholarship program at three universities in Liberia including the University of Liberia (UL), African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) and the United Methodist University (UMU) with at least eighteen less fortunate girls enrolled.
OXGEEP main objective is to ensure that girls in tertiary institutions acquire education so that they be self-empowered, confident, and reliant.
But as OXFAM gets ready to leave Liberian finally, the scholarship program will immediately end while staying in school to acquire their full tertiary education for the remaining semesters seems to be a major hurdle they are facing currently.
The female scholars are all students maintaining high grades points in their quest for better educations, equality, and better future across the three major universities in Monrovia.
The girls are made up of orphans, survivors of gender-based violence while others are from extreme poor family backgrounds.
Like several other girls across Liberia, the stories of many of the young women on the OXFAM scholarship are scaring as some of them before the intervention of OXFAM have to stay out of schools due to lack of proper care and support either due to the deaths of their parents or poor family backgrounds.
Many of them are worried how their journey for education will continue in the absence of OXFAM, an organization good will have kept them in school for the past years since the inception of the scholarship program in 2018.
At the Project Talent Exhibition and Fundraising Event held on the main campus of the University of Liberia on March 26, 2021, it was clearly mentioned by authorities of OXGEEP that in order to have the girls remain in school the intervention of philanthropists, goodwill institutions and the government must take the bold step to raise the needed finance for maintenance of the program.
OXGEEP Project Coordinator Josephine Goweh Urey said OXFAM is leaving Liberia soon and due to that OXGEEP is soliciting support to keep the less fortunate girls in school and bring onboard many of them that are really in need of support at these various higher institutions of learning.
“Because OXFAM is leaving Liberia soon and due to our passion to continue this process that is why we held the program today to solicit funding from other organizations. We want to find people with the passion for education to help these girls.” Mrs. Goweh-Urey said.
“We are asking influential individuals who want to see women acquire education and have their own role to play in the society. We believe when they are empowered, they will play a significant role in the society. We want to invite donors who will take over form OXFAM to help these girls.” She told the program.
“I can say yes, we are getting some positive responses. Yes to some extent it’s like 50/50, we are getting some good responses and the scholars themselves are looking at different fund raising strategies where they can be able to raise funds in a way and see how they can help themselves and those that are left behind.” Mrs. Urey mentioned.
Out of the eighteen, six have already graduated. Five out of the six are already working. The remaining twelve, two will be graduating this year,2021, while the eight will be fighting to get along.”
For his part, OXFAM Education Programme Manager in Liberia Zwannah Kimber saidn OXFAM wanted a more holistic approach in empowering women and girls and that’s while the OXGEEP project was focused on having promising women of different discipline that are covered under the scholarship program.
“At OXFAM, we wanted a more holistic approach in empowering women and girls, so that’s while the OXGEEP Project was focused on having promising women of different discipline that were captured under this scholarship.” He said.
“So why this scholarship, it was meant to showcase to the government and partners that there is a need to support women in tertiary education because they have been left behind for far too long.”
“The issue here is about sustainability, OXFAM will be leaving Liberia, but we are leaving, and our eyes are behind. To compliment that, we are hoping that our partners (the government and various institutions) will be able to provide support our women and girls especially those that have suffered for this scholarship and even to expand the program beyond this.” Zwannah noted.
For their part, project participants applauded Oxfam for securing a future for them.
Gladys Kamara of African Methodist University said the project did not limit her to specific credits but has enable her to stay in school.
“They helped us pay tuition, allowances, transportation, the money is being paid to the bank, and the entrepreneur workshop has impacted my life as a young woman.” Some of the scholars currently run their own businesses since they participated in the entrepreneur training program, others have NGOs.