It was a teary eye event watching hundreds of young proud pupils marching the streets of Monrovia singing their hearts out in tribute and thanks to the Liberian government and Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for rescuing ‘beneficiaries’ who were eager to learn, but not having a helping hand to go to school.
The parade was climaxed by a program at the Monrovia City Hall on August 4, when many students were able to express their stories about how their lives were changed dramatically for the better because of the President’s assistance.
Attending the program were Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, , MCC Mayor Clara Mvogo, Minister of Education George Werner, Minister of Agriculture and Culture and scores of beneficiaries from the Ricks Institute, United Methodist University, Cuttington University and the University of Liberia. Others beneficiaries were from the African Methodist Episcopal University, Bromley Mission, Stella Maris Polytechnic, Starz Institute, the Catholic run School System as well as other secondary institutions of learning in the country.
According to a press release from the executive mansion the beneficiaries opened a L$200,000 Endowment Account named “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Scholarship Foundation” for the purpose of assisting other less fortunate students coming after them in the Liberian society.
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai thanked the students for lessons learned and made a commitment of L$100,000 to buttress what had been deposited by the students to the Scholarship Foundation. He said “it is good and remarkable to give back something.”
Joyce Kapahn, Assistant Minister for Culture and chairperson for the organizing committee, said the fund was created in order for the President to “assist other youths who would follow their footsteps one day. The idea of doing this is to give back because Madam Ellen gave back to us; this will be of service to our country,” she stated.
President Sirleaf who initially turned down the scholarship beneficiaries’ request to honor and appreciate her benevolence, according to the release, said she was compelled to be at the ceremony because of the insistence of the students, some of whom are currently working in government, the private sector and are self-employed.
“We saw the future in you, and so that is why we did it,” President Sirleaf told the audience. She said for them, the future is bright because each one had a personal life story. Majority of the youths broke down in tears as they told their sad stories of being from remote parts of the country and never knowing that they would “ever come from the ashes of darkness and poverty to light,” referring to President Sirleaf as: “aunt, mother, grand-ma, and our everything.”
They also used the occasion to commend President Sirleaf and her family: “Thank you plenty Aunty Jennie Bernard, GSA Director General Mary T. Broh, the late Dr. Edward B. McClain of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, as well as the members of the National Legislature for closely working together in addressing our plight.”
It became an emotional moment when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf commended all branches of government for working together and arranging the necessary paperwork as well as finding the resources through the right channels to support the nation’s youthful population in pursuit of their education in spite of constraints. “I know how some of you here today and your parents suffered to put food on your tables. Some of you here don’t have ma, pa, no money to pay your school fees, no jobs, no money to pay rent, among others,” she said. President Sirleaf said the project was not executed by her alone, and commended all of the people who did the paperwork, ranging from the Ministry of State to the National Legislature that pushed “us in supporting these students, as well as the students,” for what she called their honesty and sincerity.
President Sirleaf concluded by cautioning the young people of Liberia to always be determined in whatever they want to be in life, if they should reach their full potential, because “Everything in life is about how focused you are and to be what you want in life.”