Orphaned by herdsmen attacks in Rim village of Central Nigeria’s Plateau State, Esther Dankye, 15, was on the verge of dropping out of school when unexpected help came, Thursday.
Her father was killed when armed assailants rounded up their village last three years, shooting anyone in sight.
Life was already hard for the rural family, as late Mr. Dankye had no job, but his death made things “a lot worse,” said Esther.
Like many African women, Esther’s mother who has no education, was restricted by local customs from working to earn while being married. Now that he’s gone, the family’s responsibility is on her, while she lacks the capacity.
“We go into artisanal mining (in dangerous ponds) to get money for food,” said Esther. Other times, they sell firewood and work on people’s farms for pay. These sources are however seasonal.
Esther hopes to change the family fortunes when she gets a degree. But They barely have enough for food, let alone to pay for school.
Last week, Officials announced Match 15 as deadline for registration of candidates for 2021 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination.
Esther had yet to pay tuition for several sessions. All hopes were gone. She had concluded she was going to miss the deadline, thus dropping out to wait for another year, if ever.
Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), a local non-governmental organization advocating for welfare and rights of communities oppressed by violence, upon hearing her story, Thursday moved to fund Esther’s registration.
It was perhaps the least of her expectations. “I am just speechless. I can’t thank you enough,” she said with eyes full of tears.
The Principal of Government Secondary School Rim, Esther’s school in Riyom, Plateau State, Mrs. Tabitha Dongs was also moved to tears. “I am deeply touched by this. Thank you so much Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria,” she said in a trembling voice.
Mrs. Dongs had identified over 70 orphans of violence in the school since she was posted last year. She has used her resources to assist some, but she is incapacitated. “I wish more people could help,” she said.
The member representing Riyom constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Timothy Dantong has placed 17 in the school on scholarship, along with dozens others across the LGA. But the burden is still “enormous”, said Mrs. Dongs.
An Official of ECCVN, Mr. Solomon Dalyop has said the foundation will advocate more help for orphans in the area. It has however paid millions of naira in aid to crisis victims in the last couple of months.
It is likely the only humanitarian organization involved in post-conflict interventions in Central Nigeria. Additional support to it or its target communities might lighten its burden.