CAN-USA Spent US$150K to Educate Young Liberians in Colleges

Left to right:  Eric Willise Wowoh, CEO, CAN-USA, Ms. Tesla Wowoh, and George Thomas, two of the YEL’s Beneficiaries   

Alaska Moore Johnson

The CEO of Change Agent Network-USA and Opportunity Network Liberia, Eric Wowoh, has disclosed that over the last 10 years, he, through his organization, has spent more than US$150,000  on the higher education of several Liberians.

Disclosing this to this newspaper recently, Wowoh said educating and guiding highly engaged community-minded young professionals will ensure that his legacy of service, generosity, love, and patriotism will continue to thrive and grow long after he is dead and gone. 

He added: “These young emerging leaders (ages 22-35) are given the opportunity to grow their leadership skills, serve the school they graduated from, serve their local community, Liberia, and the world. During their mentoring, these young leaders will learn how to effectively network with peers, and engage with political, civic, and business leaders in the country.”

“The goal of this great program is to educate, empower, and position these young people for leadership positions in our organization and Liberia at large. This is our successor or exit strategy to keep this amazing vision alive and pass it unto the next generation. We seek to educate, engage, and broaden the philanthropic impact of the next generation of leaders in Liberia,” the CAN-USA CEO stressed. 

He further stated that the essence of the Young Emerging Leaders’ (YEL) program is to prepare young minds to transform Liberia through education, mentorship, and the hope of the Gospel of Christ. He added: “Liberia cannot experience the quality of transformation we so desired until we have people who are equipped and ready to lead the charge. 

CAN-USA has invested over US$150,000 in the last 10 years in this incredible human capacity-building program in Liberia. We are very much grateful to the Almighty God and to our many unyielding partners, donors, and supporters as well as friends who are working with us to move Liberia forward together.”

Heart of Grace School, one of the three Change Agent Network’s schools, which sat the WASSCE

The program, dubbed, Young Emerging Leaders (YEL) College Sponsorship Program, is CAN’s career development initiative or human capital investment program for young Liberians. 

Eric said their goal is to provide higher education both at the academic, entrepreneurial, and vocational levels to hard-working, serviceable, selfless, deserving students who have demonstrated strong leadership skills and the opportunity to pursue higher education either at university, college, or advanced vocational levels in Liberia.

Recently, two of the beneficiaries graduated from Cuttington University. Eric named the two mentees, Quoiquoi Wratto, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture; and Alice  Johnson, with a Bachelor’s in Nursing.

The program recently dropped seven students, who were involved in the conspiracies to tarnish Eric’s hard-earned reputation through blackmailing and betrayals. 

Eric adds: “As we prepare to start the next academic year, we have totally and completely changed the application requirements, vetting, structure, and supervision process of this program because of the unfortunate behaviors of these seven students.”

In the new reform, Eric vows that new recruits are now going to be scrutinized before getting accepted into the program. “In the past, we were not fully monitoring our beneficiaries. We used to give the money directly to our students to pay their own school fees and some didn’t pay all the money that we used to give. They use to divert some of the funds to personal and family use without our knowledge, thereby making them spend longer time in school than initially expected.” 

“Putting beneficiaries in direct contact with sponsors overseas was fatal and students are now going to sign papers that they are going to come back to work for CAN/ONLIB after their graduation to pay it forward. Also, we will no longer take any of our serious business partnerships both local and international and give it to any of the beneficiaries on the program while they are still in school as we did in the past for them to spearhead. Going forward, If there are any vacancies in this organization, it’s going to be equally open to the public so that we can hire the most qualified person for the job.

He also stated that only the University of Liberia (UL) in Monrovia and CAN College (CC) in Lofa County are now going to be the only two institutions that they are going to sponsor students due to funding challenges from partners. 

According to Eric, these are Liberians who are still in the program in various colleges: Favor Paye, Public Administration & Accounting at Cuttington University, Bong County; Garma Mulbah, Agriculture at Liberia International Christian College (LICC), Ganta, Nimba County; Hannah Makay, Information Technology at BlueCrest University, Montserrado County; Mariama Kromah, Nursing at Leomor V School of Health Assistance, Montserrado County; Rebecca D Nehan, Education at the University of Liberia, Montserrado County; Majorine M. Paye, Information Technology at Starz University, Montserrado County; and Giftee Toe, Agriculture and Animal Science at Cuttington University, Bong County. Others are Princess Sele, Business & Management at CAN College, Lofa County; Jeremiah B. Zaza, Education at CAN College, Lofa County; James K. Gbangborzizi, Theology at CAN College, Lofa County; Flomo Koingewu, Technology at CAN College, Lofa County; Yongor Stevens, Business at CAN College, Lofa County; and Solomon Fille, Education at Cepres International University, Bong County. 

Those who have graduated and are now contributing to the larger society include: George A. Thomas, AME Zion University, BSc in Management & Sociology (2014); Christiana Korvah, CU, BSc in Nursing (2017); Momo V. Ware, AME University, BSc, Accounting and Management (2013); and Tesla Wowoh, University of Liberia, BSc, Agriculture (2017) 

Asked why he decided not to build himself up but decided to invest in others, Eric said, “It’s about institution building. What I have seen in Liberia, we don’t build institutions, but we build individuals. This is wrong! This is my own approach to building institutions so that the day I am no longer around, the institution can survive far beyond me. Up to now, I don’t have a personal house or a decent car to drive around Monrovia for my level. Not that I can’t afford to get them, but I believe in teaching people how to fish rather than giving them fish to eat all the time. I can afford to build myself an expensive home in Liberia if I want, but that is not sustainable long term. “First build your own business before building your house” Proverbs 24:27

Meanwhile, three of the primary and secondary schools in the CAN/ONLIB School System sent a total of 224 students in all categories to sit for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which began on May 31st this academic year. Of this number, 109 were 12th graders, 60 ninth graders, sixth graders -30, and third graders -25. Many students in 9th, 6th and 3rd grades didn’t sit because their parents couldn’t afford to register them.   

Of the total number of students, 97 females sat the tests in all categories.