Friday December 4, 2009

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Opani Rose
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Opani Rose (right) reading with a classmate.
Opani Rose lives with one parent and is the youngest of 3 children. She applied late for our 2009 scholarship program this year. The scholars had already been selected and the money was distributed. Opani was a very shy girl. She would not look directly in our faces. She cried because there were no scholarship positions left. Opani started walking to the Africa ELI office almost every day, each time asking to become a Africa ELI-sponsored student. Diane told her to provide her school report cards for future consideration. She did. She kept asking for Africa ELI to sponsor her. Finally, a space – and funding – became available for Opani.

Today she is a girl who has perfect attendance for Africa ELI activities. She has faithfully attended classes at school. She has overcome her shyness and learned to speak up. She now looks directly at her intended audience when talking and advises other students to do the same. This is a goal for all of our Africa ELI students. Speaking directly is a life-skill we emphasize.

Recently, I was chatting with some of our students about the upcoming presidential elections in Sudan. I posed the question, “do you think a young man could successfully become a legislator if the elders in his community believed him to be too young?” Opani replied, “Excuse me, madam. It does not matter if you are young or old, tall or short, thin or fat, black or white. If you are qualified, then you can be a leader.”

Opani is a shining example of the emerging new leaders for Southern Sudan. She is a young woman ready to stand up and speak out about important matters in life. If she were running for an office, she would get my vote.

From Yei,
Anita

 

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