€860 from the UCD Societies Fund has been used to enrol a young woman into the University of Liberia. The woman, Jowel Harris, will commence her studies in Business Accounting next month, in a course which will be taught in the capital city of Monrovia.
Timothy Opobo, a Ugandan postgraduate student at UCD undertaking an MA in Development Studies – originally encountered Harris whilst working in Liberia for on the behalf of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect.
Opobo explained that he was “taken up by this particular story of Jowel because she was very sincere in telling me that she had dropped out of school, because her parents could no long afford to send her. She was also open in telling me that she had had a child at 15, and had been abandoned by the child’s dad.”
UCD Chaplain, Fr Leon Ó Giolláin, facilitated the funding by referring Harris’s case to the World Aid Society, who have organised the donation to Harris, who will spend it on tuition fees and course materials.
Ó Giolláin told The University Observer that Opobo had visited the student advice drop-in centre in the Newman Building, because “…he was concerned about [Harris], whom he felt had great potential, but he was not in a position to help her anymore… it was such a pity that she would lose the opportunity because she is a talented person.”
Harris has expressed her gratitude by email, saying “I am so excited with the news of this assistance. I am really grateful to the World Aid Society because now I can go back to school.”
Opobo echoed this sentiment, commenting that “by coming in to support her education, the World Aid Society has created change – not only for her, but change that will benefit her child, her daughter.” He added that Jowel was “blown away by the fact that she is going to start school again because we had in one sense lost hope, and the World Aid Society has restored this hope.”
Ó Giolláin was keen to highlight how the story of how UCD students had come to fund Harris’s education was “kind of unique”, but said he hoped “it’ll become a paradigm for other such stories that can be told. It’s very good that we can link in with people who are in need, particularly when it comes to education.
“It also highlights for us here, how privileged we are and what opportunities so many of us have in the Western World for education which sets us up for life,” Ó Giolláin added.
Liberia is a West African country recovering from a devastating 14-year long civil war. 80 per cent of Liberia’s 3.8 million people are illiterate.