Scholarships for people with disabilities in Liberia

J Swaray Kolleh

My name is J Swaray Kolleh and I am a member of Young Voices Bopolu, Liberia. I have a physical disability and am unable to hold anything with my right arm. Before joining Young Voices I rarely went out in public and my parents always thought of me as a burden. I am now the secretary of Young Voices Bopolu. I chair meetings, plan campaign strategies with the group, and meet with local and national authorities. It’s really built my confidence.

Recently we found out that of all the scholarships awarded in the county of Bopolu, not one has gone to a disabled person. We have been very persistent in campaigning to change this, using Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the right to education. We have lobbied the county authorities and built support among people who have influence with the District Representative.

As a result, a Scholarship position at the SMART Institute College in Monrovia was awarded to Young Voices Bopolu. The scholarship is going to me. I’m so excited and my parents are really proud. I can’t believe that I’m leaving Bopolu to attend college in Monrovia.

But our campaigning doesn’t stop there. We are currently advocating for the County’s scholarship committee to approve our resolution that 15% of all scholarship programs are awarded to people with disabilities.