ªSTUDENT SPOTLIGHT ª
See additional photos and profiles on our website: http://benineducationfund.org/blog/our-students
Letter from Djouma, a female student who is finishing high school with a BEF scholarship:
“I thank you infinitely for the help you’ve given me with my education. I will truly appreciate this gift all my life because I better understand the value of education and what that can bring to someone like me. When I think about what my life would have been without an education…. no computers, internet, emails, books, etc.. When I look around me I see so many young people in that situation, which I would have been in without your help. I feel so lucky and privileged to have an education. Now my dreams are diverse and I allow myself to dream because I am equipped with the tools to confront the world. I hope that a few years from now I will be in university. I understand now exactly why [BEF Founder] Alphonse is such an advocate for education. Each year, I gain more confidence in myself and my ability to succeed. The trip which once seemed so long has become short, because in just a few years I will finish high school. I never imagined I would be at this point. Never! – Djouma.”
Odile attends the private school Complexe Commercial de L’Atacora in Natitingou, Benin, with support from BEF. She has proven to be a strong student. Her first year there, Odile scored the highest overall score for all the girls. She excels at French, English, and History and Geography. Shesays she does well because she studies by herself to make sure she fully understands each lesson. Unfortunately Odile’s parents no longer are able to work but they do support her emotionally. She has one older brother. In her spare time she likes to study and read. She plans to work hard in class to someday payback the society of Benin. She also would like to say “Thank you for finding the means to support me and help all of us students, please continue to help and encourage us to continue our education!”
Nestor lost his father at a young age, and his elderly mother raised him alone. Throughout his life, Nestor has displayed an incredible drive to succeed and attend school. When he finished 8th grade, he knew he needed to find a way to earn money for food and school supplies. He left his small village of Kouaba to find work in rural Nigeria. He was away so long that he missed the next school year, but he returned the following year with some money saved and was able to attend school again. Nestor repeated this pattern after 10th grade and 11th grade – skipping a year of school to work and earn money to go back the following year. He continued to advance in his studies, but very slowly. By the time he reached 12th grade, Nestor had fallen far behind his classmates and was older than the other students. The school threatened to expel him because he had to re-enroll in certain classes. At one point, he abandoned high school completely and tried to go teach in a rural primary school, but, having missed the opportunity to earn his middle school diploma several years earlier, he was deemed unqualified. Desperate to make ends meet, he began driving a moto-taxi. Yet Nestor still dreamed of an education. He approached the Benin Education Fund (BEF) to request help to change the direction his life had taken. BEF reviewed his application and saw that he had the potential to excel in school if given a chance. A few years ago, BEF enrolled Nestor in 12th grade at the public school in Natitingou, Benin. On weekends, he does odd jobs to support himself. Nestor says that he believes he will succeed in life thanks to BEF, and he has resolved to work hard in order to leave a positive mark on BEF.
Mickaël attended high school in Natitingou, Benin, thanks to several years of support from Benin Education Fund. His father is unable to work and his mother is a nurse at the local hospital. He has three brothers and two sisters. In his spare time, Mickaël likes to play sports and read. He also enjoys watching the French news program TV24 to keep up with current events. He excels in Geography, History, English, Spanish, and German – one year he scored an impressive 18.5 out of 20 in Geography and 17.44 out of 20 in Spanish and German. He says after class he goes home and reads each lesson 3-4 times to make sure he completely understands what the professor taught that day. Mickaël wants to encourage Beninese Parents to send their children to school because “at school their children will learn social norms and the rules of society”. He would like to “thank infinitively the donors for their remarkable gift and work. They help Benin and they help us, the students, be successful”
Jules Ponty received special mention, the highest scoring category, in passing his baccalaureate exam to complete high school
René Otchaté was first in his class in Toucountouna, passing from Premier to Terminale (the final year of high school) with honors. On the left, he receives his prize from Karen Kouagou.
BEF scholarship recipients from the High School for Girls in Natitingou, Benin