University studies hang on a string

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WINDHOEK- William Sikongo, a first year Information and Communication Technology (ICT) student at the International University of Management (IUM)’s future at the institution is in limbo due to lack of funds.

The Elizabeth Foundation has been taking care of Sikongo since 2005, considering the fact that he is being raised by a single parent, his unemployed mother, who also looks after his three sisters.

Sikongo (22) comes from such a destitute background, that he used to sell firewood to help his struggling mother augment her meager resources.

Though the Theresia Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Foundation started to pay for his school expenses since its inception in 2005, founder of the charity, Elizabeth Hilger says it can no longer afford Sikongo’s tuition fees.
She says she can no longer withstand the financial burden resultant from Sikongo’s high tertiary fees considering her foundation is a non-profit organisation.

Tuition at IUM currently stands at N$17 300 for first year students and escalates to N$18 200 for second years, N$18 600 for third years and N$19 500 for final year – bringing the total to N$73 000.

Hilger described the tuition fees as being far beyond what they can afford, adding that lack of sponsors and donors worsens the situation – making it difficult for the foundation to cover all the costs.

She said she was compelled to use her personal funds and that, she says, has eroded her personal savings.

“The Theresia Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Foundation was established to render educational assistance to orphans, vulnerable [children] and children from the poor families that cannot afford to be in school and it was for that reason the foundation has taken in Sikongo up to this level,” explained Hilger.

The Theresia Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Foundation caters for 111 children and provides school development fees, stationery and it offers school-going children a meal after school.

Furthermore, she reiterated that despite its registration with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, which allows it to receive social welfare benefits either from outside or within the country, the foundation still faces difficulties as its operation relies on the little donations it sometimes receives from Good Samaritans. But she, however, said Lions’ Club in Luxembourg, a western European country is currently funding the foundation.

“No matter how we try, we are unable to source some funds when starting up some businesses due to the fact the majority of our community members are unemployed and they rather prefer to exchange mahangu (pearl millet) with any goods and services rendered to them,” said Hilger.

Sikongo is appealing to the public to assist him in any way they could, as he is the only person on whom his unemployed mother and siblings are pinning their hopes.

“If it wasn’t for the foundation, I would be a cattle herder just like my friends who dropped out of school. I would like to use this opportunity to become someone in life to help my family and the foundation as well and foremost the nation at large,” said Sikongo.

Furthermore, Hilger has called on any corporate or individual entities to help her with funds to help Sikongo and her foundation that is caring for over 100 orphans.

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