The Sime Darby Foundation has increased the allowance of students on its scholarship program by more than 300 per cent, from US$45 to US$135 monthly. About 51 students are benefiting from the company’s scholarship at various vocational and technical schools, as well as universities in the country. However, the students have not been in school because of the Ebola virus, which has already claimed over 3,000 lives, in Liberia alone. The government has been left with no other option than to shut down schools across the country, in an effort to help eradicate the disease.
The Foundation’s objective is to meet the needs of its scholarship beneficiaries, who have one way or another been affected by the Ebola crisis, according to a statement from Sime Darby’s Management, adding that the new allowance is to last until eventually the fight against Ebola is won.
The Company’s head of communications, David Kolleh said: “Currently, we are in the Ebola crisis and the company is cognizant that those students who are pursuing their education will need more financial support. We are hoping that this will help them in many ways, especially their family members, so that when school resumes they can be in high spirit.”
“I feel good,” said Moses Sumu, a beneficiary of the scholarship studying general construction (carpentry and masonry) at the Bomi Community College.
“It has not been easy, and it’s even hard to get food. So when I got the call on Monday that Sime Darby was increasing our money from US$45 to US$135, I was very happy. This will help us [me and my family], including other beneficiaries, in many ways because since the Ebola outbreak we have not been able to carry on our usual hustle. We have been basically concerned about our survival,” explains Sumo, who lives in Bola, an hour’s walk from Tubmanburg.
Sime Darby has been one of the leaders in the combat against Ebola in ‘hot spots’ in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties in Liberia.
Recently, the oil palm giant collaborated with the Malaysian government in the shipment of 5.7 million clinical gloves to the Liberian government. Initially, the company sponsored a nationwide Ebola awareness program, spending US$167,000. The campaign was implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).