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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jennie Flomo's story

Jennie is the youngest Liberian child in the scholarship program in Bong County. She attends the Methodist School in Gbarnga.
Story by Emily Sherman-Davis and Lizzy scully

Before the Girls Education Scholarship Program, 11-year-old Jennie Flomo was following in the footsteps of her older sister.

"My older sister went to school through sixth grade, but then dropped out because she was not encouraged by our parents,” Jennie explains. Plus, the burden of school fees overwhelmed the family. Though Jennie’s three brothers were kept in school, she was forced to drop out after the third grade. At home she took on many responsibilities, including helping her mother sell small condiments door-to-door or at the market. She also helped to do the laundry and cooked, which sometimes meant she had to go to the fields to look for firewood.

Liberia Scholarship Project Manager Emily Sherman-Davis met Jennie at the Methodist School when she went to do the assessment and selection for the girls in Bong County, April 2008.

“I had just completed the interview and had selected the ten girls we needed for the scholarship at Methodist,” Sherman-Davis says. “On my way outside the building I met Jennie, a shy little girl in an worn-out dress outside the verandah. She walked up to me, greeted me with her head bowed, and asked: ‘Are you the woman that has come with the scholarship?’”

That day, Jennie had come to school that day to register, despite the fact that she wasn’t sure if her parents could pay the school fees.

Jennie then personally asked Sherman-Davis for help. “It is not a normal thing for a young person to easily approach an older person and make a request,” she explains. Sherman-Davis was moved, and assuming Jennie must be intelligent and dedicated to her studies, she commenced with a discussion about the possibilities of a scholarship for the child.

“I did not promise her anything,” says Sherman-Davis, “but I sent her name to the GEI in the United States, and her name was accepted for the scholarship

“When I told Jennie that she was accepted on the scholarship upon my return to Gbarnga to distribute letters to recipients and pay first semester fees, she was so happy that she ran up and down the school campus exclaiming, ‘I am so happy I want to run home and tell my parents that I got a scholarship that will pay my fees!’” 

Jennie is now in Grade four and is among the first three students in her class. Her first period average is 85 (B+). The GEI Scholarship has paid the fees for Jennie's education.

Recently Jennie told Sherman-Davis: "It is because of the scholarship that I was able to pass all my subjects this period.”

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