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Ishmael Beah Foundation doles out 100 scholarships

Ishmael Beah Foundation doles out 100 scholarships

The Ishmael Beah Foundation (IBF), a private charity dedicated towards helping children and youth affected by war reintegrate into society and improve their lives through education, has awarded 100 scholarships to primary, secondary, tech voc and university students across the country.  (Photo: Leslie Mboka presenting grant to Tigidanky Barrie)

The IBF which seeks to create financing, educational and vocational opportunities for children and youths so that they can be empowered and choose a life free of conflict, hopes to achieve its objectives through providing scholarships, creating literacy and study corners to beneficiaries as a way of enabling them take charge of their lives and become self-reliant in the future.

The IBF scholarship scheme was introduced in 2009 with 50 students across the country targeted. The total number of beneficiaries for the 2011/2012 academic year is 100.

The IBF is managed by the Tides Foundation in the United States of America (USA), with the Community Advocacy and Development Movement (CADEM) being its focal and local partner in Sierra Leone.

At a press conference organized to kick-start the cash payment of the scholarships to grantees, the Executive Director of CADEM, Leslie Nestor Mboka, said “This is a continuation of what we have been doing over the past two academic years”.

Giving a brief background of the IBF, Mr. Leslie Mboka explained that it all boils around a Sierra Leonean former child soldier named Ishmael Beah, who following the publication of a book titled ‘A long way gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’, cataloguing the experiences gained and the pains suffered during the years or war and instability, attracted an unprecedented fame and attention worldwide.

Mindful of the fact that his country is still haunted by the scars of a bloody civil war that left thousands killed and thousands more rendered either physically or psychologically displaced, Ishmael Beah now based in the United States of America and serving as a distinguished UINCEF goodwill ambassador, deemed it fit to establish the scholarship scheme to provide educational and training assistance to less fortunate young Sierra Leoneans who, one way or the other, may have been affected by the 11 year- old armed insurgency.

A cross section of awardees

Mr. Mboka said the scheme is catering for limited target beneficiaries because the intention is to ensure that the grants awarded are sufficient enough to take care of the greater part of the educational needs of grantees such as the complete payment of tuition fees, books, uniform and so on.

On this note, he said 30 primary school pupils each receiving Le 600,000 (Six Hundred Thousand Leones, 30 secondary school pupils each receiving Le 900,000 (Nine Hundred Thousand Leones), 20 tech-voc students each receiving Le 1,800,000 (One Million Eight Hundred Thousand Leones) and 20 university students each receiving Le 3,000,000 (Three Million Leones), will be targeted in the current grant awards.

According to Mr. Mboka, the beneficiaries of the scheme were selected by an independent panel comprising of various stakeholders, adding that those selected will benefit from the scheme as long as they continue to excel in their skills trainings and academic work.

“Four beneficiaries of the scheme, two from the Njala University, Brima Swarray and Michael Bassie and two ladies from two tech- voc institutions in the southern region of the country, are graduating this year”, Mr. Mboka said with pride, stressing that “Who knows, some of our graduating beneficiaries will one day become possible donors of this grant scheme”.

Mr. Mboka went on to state that CADEM is working in close partnership with other local civil society organizations like the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the eastern province, the Coordination of Active Peace and Endowment (CAPE-SL) in the southern province and the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights in the northern province to implement the awards scheme.

By Theophilus S. Gbenda

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