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Scholarship: Bishop Ezeokafor In Collaboration With HIFA Austria Splashes Over N10m On 85 Indigent Students, Pupils Accross All Denominations In Anambra

By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor through the Justice, Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC), Awka Diocese in collaboration with the Help For All (HIFA) Initiative, Austria, a Non-Governmental Organization today at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, paid the tuition fees of 85 poor and Indigent students across all denominations in Anambra State, totalling 10million Four Hundred and Forty five thousand Naira.

Declaring the cheques presentation open, Bishop Ezeokafor exhorted the beneficiaries to work harder in their academic pursuit, saying that the only meaningful and fastest way they can achieve greatness and attained their full potentials was through access to quality education, urging them to be focused and resolute in their quest for a better and a greater future, emphasizing that without education they may not get to that height they so desired, adding that only the hardworking students would continue to enjoy the tuition fees payment package while the unserious ones would no longer take part in it.

The Charismatic and Influential Prelate who was represented by the Education Secretary of Catholic Diocese of Awka, Reverend Father, Maximus Okonkwo charged the students to take their studies seriously and guard against distractions and anything that would deny them the opportunity of enjoying the largesse as well as losing track and focus.

The outspoken Cleric admonished students to take their education seriously and maintain good conduct as well.

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Presenting the cheques to the beneficiaries at JDPC, Awka Diocese Secretariat domiciled inside St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral Awka, the Director of JDPC, Awka Diocese and the Chairman Anambra State HIFA Board, Rev Fr Levi Ukor said that they worked in partnership with HIFA Austria, noting that the Organization was formed and funded by retired teachers in Austria.

‘The sponsors are interested in your results; your performance and reports from the school authority. These are the things that are encouraging the sponsors to increase the money instead of giving out the usual 121,000 Naira they are giving to each student.The total money we are spending this year is 10,4,45,000. Ten Million Four Hundred and Forty five thousand Naira. Last year we spent 7 million Naira. Seven million Naira. So, it is not a small money. We want people to know that the Church is spending this huge amount of money on Education,’ he said.

Fr Ukor, thanked Bishop Ezeokafor for seeing that there was a need to help indigent people in securing their future through continuous education.

Fr Ukor who asserted that the bishop could have channelled the funds to other areas but decided to always help in the indigent added it was long-standing event that did not begin this year.

He, however, added that the NGO moved a notch further by increasing the fund from the seven million it was last year to ten million naira. This he said was in recognition of the economic situation in the country.

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In cautioning parents to make judicious use of the fund, the director also challenged the students to always improve in their academic excellence sating it was the only way to appreciate HIFA and the bishop.Some of the students whose academic records were impressive were also rewarded with additional funds, according to the Director.

According to Rev Fr Ukor, they scout for indigent students yearly after which the lucky ones would be thorough investigated to ascertain all facts before compiling and submitting their names to HIFA Austria for onward release of funds, noting that they also engage in building and renovation of schools, hospitals and that they were into provision of transportation to ease the stress and hardship occasioned by lack of adequate vehicles and means of transportation.

The Director of JDPC, Awka Diocese stated that they do not pay only tuition fees they equally pay for medical bills of the destitute and also train them on many skills acquisitions, saying that the programme was an annual event and that many indigent students and gifted children had been saved and empowered through the Initiative

Rev Fr Ukor who said that Organization was Co-founded by Adolf Pester and Rev Fr Aaron Ekwu (Late) noted that it was designed basically to cater for the poor in society and also help in closing the gap in infrastructure and other areas of life. He announced that HIFA Austria were already in 6 states in Nigeria and had been carrying out back to back humanitarian services in Anambra State and Nigeria.

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He announced that the students were drawn from different schools in Anambra State not minding their religious or denominational inclinations and faith, saying that some were picked from schools in Awka, Nnewi, Onitsha, Ihiala, Ekwuluobi and Orumba, among others, adding that the beneficiaries were gotten through the applications submitted during their monthly meetings.

In his remark, the JDPC Diocesan Chairman, Hon. Paulinus Adinuba called parents to inspite of any difficulty not use the money given for any other purpose except for the school it is meant for.

It was gathered that N121, 00 naira was given to each of the 83 students and 2 students (Maura Dorothy Anozie and Lawrence Chiekezie) were given N270,600 and N141,400 respectively for their academic performance.

The event which took place at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka was organized by the Justice for Peace and Development Caritas (JDPC) and was attended by parents and beneficiary students from different schools. 121,000

Some beneficiaries which included

Ibekwe Chioma from Amaenyi Secondary School, Awka Kizito Ebele from Community Secondary, Obelendu; Lawrence Uchechukwu Chiekezie from St. Michael’s Comprehensive Secondary School, Nimo and Pamela Chikerem Onwuka from Fr. Tansi Memorial Secondary School Akpu, all appreciated the bishop for his kind gesture and promised to improve in their academics so as to be shining lights to others.

Highlights of the events included the presentation of cash to the parents of the beneficiaries and group photographs.