As OXFAM prepares to end its mission in Liberia, there is a high possibility that hope of at least eighteen females in various tertiary institutions may dash down.
The OXFAM Girls’ Education Empowerment Project (OXGEEP) runs a scholarship program in at three universities in Liberia including the state-run University of Liberia (UL), African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) and the United Methodist University (UMU) where at least eighteen less fortunate girls enroll on this scholarship.
OXGEEP’s main objective is to ensure that girls in tertiary institutions acquire quality education to gain empowerment, self-confidence and reliance.
However, as OXFAM is now in the preparation stage to take its exit finally, it means that the scholarship program is coming end immediately, leaving no certainty as to how the less fortunate girls will complete the rest of their semesters in school.
The female scholars are all students maintaining high grade points in their quest for better educations, equality and better future across the three major universities in Monrovia.
Some of the girls are orphans and survivors of gender-based violence, while others are from extremely impoverished 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 had 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 whose goodwill has kept them in school for about two years since the inception of the scholarship program in 2018.
OXGEEP authorities mentioned at the Project Talent Exhibition and Fundraising Event held on the main campus of the University of Liberia on March 26, 2021 that in order to have the girls remained in school, there is a need for intervention of philanthropists, goodwill institutions and the government.
OXGEEP Project Coordinator, Josephine Goweh Urey, said OXFAM is leaving Liberia soon and because of 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 in these various universities.
“Because OXFAM is leaving Liberia soon, and due to our passion to continue this process, this is why we are having 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 from OXFAM to help these girls.” She added.
In furtherance, she said, “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 to see how they can help themselves and those that are left behind.”
Out of the eighteen girls on the scholarship, six have already graduated, and five out of the six have found jobs. Among the remaining twelve, are expected to graduate this 2021, while the rest continue to get along.
For his part, OXFAM Education Programme Manager in Liberia, Zwannah Kimber, said OXFAM wanted a more holistic approach in empowering women and girls, and that is why the OXGEEP project was focused on having promising women of different disciplines to benefit from the scholarship program.
“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,” said Kimber.
“The issue here is about sustainability. OXFAM will be leaving Liberia, but we are leaving with our eyes are behind us. To complement that, we are hoping that our partners (the government and various institutions) will be able to provide support to our women and girls especially those that have suffered for this scholarship and even to expand the program beyond.” Kimber noted.
The project participants in separate statements applauded Oxfam for securing a future for them. Gladys Kamara of African Methodist University said that the project did not limit her to specific credits but enabled her to stay in school.
“They helped us paid our tuitions, allowances and transportation. The entrepreneur workshop also impacted my life as a young woman.”