Owerri — Until now, Hawa, Musu, Abdul, Ida and Kokulo (aged 10-13 years) were all considered as five of Liberia's 'poorest of the poor' children - but not anymore.
They are now on course to delete that chapter in their lives, and would go on to become some of the best minds the post-war country would have to offer in the next couple of years. Even the serene ambiance of their new environment is all they require to help push them past those challenges they have since had.
A special featured article from Nat Bayjay, the Press and Public Affairs Minister Counselor of the Liberian Embassy in Abuja tells of how the five Liberian orphans joined their counterparts from other African countries over the weekend in Nigeria.
They now begin the journey of a new chapter as beneficiaries of the Rochas Foundation College here in Owerri, Imo State, the southeastern part of the country.
Accompanied by their chaperone from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mrs. Edwina Buckett-Mulbah, the kids arrived from Liberia via Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport where Mr. Bayjay, on behalf of the Liberian Embassy, received them.
They subsequently flew to Owerri, the state capital of Imo where top executives from the Rochas Foundation formally received them at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport.
While receiving them at the Government House in Owerri, Ms. Ucy Okorocha, Director of the Rochas Foundation, informed the Liberian orphans that they were once street kids but who are now "Ambassadors of Liberia" that must do everything to represent their country well academically.
The Rochas Foundation, founded and owned by the current Executive Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, provides scholarships for less privileged children from all over Africa.
A day following their arrival, Governor Okorocha met and interacted with his Liberian and other African students, urging them to represent their respective countries well.
"You all should now see me as your new father", Governor Okorocha who is also the President of the Foundation, told his 'children'.
Already, there are students from Liberia, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and other African countries undergoing orientation at the Foundation. Several other children are expected to arrive over the next few days from other African countries.
For this year, the Foundation hopes to have 5 students each from 55 African countries as the Foundation commemorates at the end of the month the 55th birthday of its Founder and President, Governor Okorocha.
The Rochas Foundation runs colleges that grant free enrollment to less-privileged and the 'poorest of the poor' children from across the African continent from secondary to university level.
School materials including books, notebooks, computers, etc. are provided free of charge in addition to clothing, accommodation, shelter, feeding, overseas vacation, among others.
Recall that the President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf earlier last week received Governor Okorocha where they discussed, among many other things, the arrival of the five Liberian pupils for Academic Year 2017-2018.
For the five Liberian kids, life has had all its worst turn in their respective young lives. A
serious health challenge in Liberia left them orphans, with either both or one of their parents succumbing to death. However, they will all now go on to also acquire university education after their elementary and junior high school education here at the Rochas Foundation College for Africa.
Interestingly, all the three girls plan to become medical doctors while the two boys wish to become lawyers:
Hawa M. Karsieh: Aged 12 years, lost her mother three years ago to a health crisis in Liberia. As a survival, the Liberian Government sponsored her at the Williams R. Tolbert High School in Bong County. An eighth grader, she hails from Nimba County.
"I want to become a medical doctor because the doctors in my country are not sufficient and lots of people can most of the times die from simple sicknesses", she says.
Musu Massaquoi: The 9th grader from the John Kofi Ashman Methodist High in West Point is 13 years old. She lost both parents but survived and is hoping to achieve her dreams at her new academic home here in Southeastern Nigeria. "I want to save lives", she adds.
Abdoulai Farsarwuo: The youngest of the five at age 10, is a 5th grader from the Salafeya Muslim Brother High School in West Point, Monrovia.
Like Musu, both of his parents died from the health crisis in Liberia. As a survivor who hails from Grand Cape Mount, he too is all but set to actualize his dreams at the Rochas Foundation. "I want to become a lawyer to protect the poor", he said smilingly.
Ida Swen: At age 11, the 7th grader of the Daniel E. Davis Elementary, Junior and Senior High School in Brewerville outside Monrovia hopes to make full use of the opportunities here in Nigeria to put behind her the horror of losing her mother while giving birth to her. That is probably the main reason she too chooses to become a medical personnel.
Mulbah Smithhood Kokulo: The 13 years old is an 8th grader from the Christian Orphanage Agriculture High School in VOA Community in Brewerville outside Monrovia.
Since losing his mother at an early age, and not knowing the whereabouts of his father since leaving Lofa County, Mulbah hopes to return to his native Liberia in the next few years as a lawyer.