By David Menjor and Robin Dopoe
It is quite rare to see a 12-year old child from a low-income family getting involved in humanitarian works in Liberia.
However, that not the case with Israela J. S. Tarway, an 8th grader at the Spiritan Academy, who since last year has sponsored more than five persons to schools both in Liberia and Sirrea Leone.
“I started thinking about helping the less fortunate children, whom I call my friends when I was in the 3rd grade and at that time I was 7 years old. I have been carefully looking around each time I passed through a market ground in Monrovia and other places where I’ve been in Liberia and observed that too many children sell in the streets every day, even when it is school time,” she said.
Although such initiative is a mammoth one, the 12-year old’s quest to help other children whose parents are unable to send them to school get education, came as a result of a burning desire to give them hope for a better future.
“I fear for them because they are exposed to danger, particularly so with cars plying at high speed in many areas they are found selling. I’m concerned about their future if they continue that way. That is why I’m going to do all I can humanly possible to help them get an education.
“I am not only concerned about what comfort I should have, but also the future of those less fortunate kids as well. I want a better and prosperous Liberia, but not by sitting idly and complaining,” Israela added.
How she generate funds
To raise funds for her initiative, Israela, who tuition is still being paid by her mother, used the money she usually saves from her lunch allowance to settle those on her scholarship. She also raises funds through her Israela Foundation Liberia ‘dollar rally campaign.
The dollar rally campaign encourages people to donate any amount they can to help send a child to school.
She added: “The dollar rally campaign idea came after I realized that I cannot solely depend on my little savings to foot the bills of those on the organization scholarships.
“Funds raised from the campaign and my savings go exclusively towards the educations of the people I’m helping. I will continue to develop an innovative approach to raise more money to add more students on the scholarship list. I see this as a task, though difficult; but I remain committed to it. I will never feel good seeing myself getting an education, while others are not.”
The campaign, an impressive source of funds for her scholarship initiative has raised a little over US$500 with some financial support coming from her church, City of Light and businessman and legal practitioner Cllr. George Kailondo.
Other philanthropists who have donated to her cause includes Deddeh Quoi Quoi and Jamelatu Konneh, who respectively works at the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, and the U.S. Embassy in Liberia.
While Israela’s initiative might be less than three years old, it has benefited people who are actually in need of scholarships like Maratu Kamara and Matilda Jones, survivors of the tragic mudslide that shook Sierra Leone last year.
Another beneficiary of her goodwill gesture includes Catherine and David Dweh, a sibling pair in the 12th grade, and Success Kollie. Also, Debora Yongar and a boy named Prince, have all been beneficiaries of the foundation’s scholarship initiatives.
Maratu Kamara is the only surviving member of her family from the Sierra Leone mudslide and Matilda was blessed to have survive with her father, although she lost all her brothers, sisters, and mother to the disaster.
“Each of the organization’s scholarship beneficiaries have stories that are very touching and that is why I decided to help them,” Israela says. “I’m helping them so they can have better futures tomorrow, not a ruin.
“The good news is that they are all bright students and doing well in school. Their academic performances have inspired me to do more because there many others who are smart but do not have the opportunity to be school,” Israela said.
During her visit to Sierra Leone, former Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh described Israela Tarway’s initiative as a wonderful initiative that will help the beneficiaries to be educated and become productive and better citizens of the country.
Prince, one of the scholarship recipients, lost his mother who was beaten to death by his father when she was by then pregnant. And with his father being in prison and the mother deceased, Israela stepped in to help with his education.
Recognitions and future plans
Due to her impressive works, Israela was among the 150 outstanding young people who won the 2017 Princess Diana awards. And recently, she got nominated for another international peace prize award this year.
In January of last year, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described her as an exceptional young person who is undertaking a huge task.
The former president said: “Israela, I want to commend you for what you have done and continue to do for children. You are exceptional.”
The ambition of this young humanitarian is to become a lawyer, who will stand in defense of the poor and vulnerable who she thinks suffer certain circumstances because of lack of money.
“I feel that too many people are need of justice but due to their lack of money to hire lawyers, their rights are buried and they suffer pains in their hearts. I want to be a poor man’s lawyer when I complete my studies at any university I enroll into after my grade school education,” she said.
The mother of Israela, Amelia Tarway said she wonders every day how her daughter is going about doing whatever she is doing.
“It is only God who knows the best but I know that my daughter is destined for greatness,” Madam Tarway said.
She said sometimes her daughter, Israela, plans for things that seem impossible to achieve “but with hope and belief that God is the only one guiding her with His wisdom, I let it be. I sometimes get afraid that my child could be hurt while trying to help others whom she feels are in need of her assistance, but she is always calm. This moves me and I have vowed to stand by her all through,” she said.