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Needed: A Good Samaritan (or two) - Budding medical doctor in search of help to pay university fees after RM helped her through secondary school

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Monifa Marshall

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

For 19-year-old Monifa Marshall, the September 1 start of the new school year was painful on two levels.

Monifa is still mourning her mother who died last month and the back-to-school excitement brought a fresh round of tears as she saw her dream of entering the medical field slowly dying.

The ambitious teenager has been accepted to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the West Indies but is yet to see any way of paying for her studies.

A past student of St Jago High School, St Catherine, Monifa was in tears last week as she told our news team her mother was her motivator.

However, her mother, who was 39, died on August 19 after a short illness. According to Monifa, she is having great difficulty coping with her mother's death while trying to console her brother who is a seventh-grade student at Old Harbour High School in St Catherine and her three-year-old sister.

"My mother has always encouraged me to study my lesson because education will take me out of poverty," said Monifa who met her father for the first time last year.

No help from dad

But he is not working and Monifa accepts that he cannot assist with her expenses.

"My mother was just as excited as I was when I was accepted to medical school," said Monifa.

"Although she did not have the money to pay my tuition or to give me adequate financial support, she encouraged me to apply for scholarships," said Monifa.

She said she has applied for several scholarships, but, so far, has received only one response, and it was not favourable.

Monifa noted that she has also applied for a student's loan, but up to last week, she had received no response. But even if she gets a student's loan, this might just cover her tuition, leaving her to find money for other expenses.

According to Monifa, with her living in Barton, St Catherine, it would be difficult to travel to the Mona campus on a daily basis, leaving her to possibly search for accommodation in the Corporate Area.

"I do hope someone, a company or an organisation will assist me to accomplish my goal," said Monifa.

Despite the uncertainty, Monifa attended orientation recently and selected some of her courses.

She noted that during her secondary school years, her mother could not provide financial support for her, and it was then Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Errar was instrumental in getting a sponsorship for her.

Errar told The Sunday Gleaner that when she heard how well Monifa had done in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and that she needed financial assistance to attend high school, she decided that poverty should not prevent her from getting a good education.

According to Errar, she called on a businessman and several lawyers in St Catherine to assist her in providing financial support for Monifa to attend high school.

Errar said because of the high cost for medical school that group is no longer in a position to assist Monifa.

With her faith in God, Monifa, who attends the Church of God of Prophecy in her community, is confident that a door will open for her to continue to pursue her dream.