Jennifer’s Humble Path Leads her to Studying in the U.S.A
“Will your parents be visiting you in the U.S.A. during your time studying there?” asked the officer at the United States Embassy in Nigeria. Jennifer Omonuwa, a quiet, studious 16 year old girl who attends the A2S After School Academy, could not help but smile before she responded. “No Sir, my parents do not have the means to visit the U.S.A.” “Why do you want to go and study in the U.S.A?” continued the officer. Jennifer replied, “ I want to go and get a great education so that I can come back to Nigeria and join A2S to help more children.”
Two months ago Jennifer Omonuwa had never been outside her community, until she was selected by the A2S team to continue her education in the U.S.A. During her visa application process, Jennifer got the opportunity to see other parts of Nigeria and she will be starting a new phase of her journey this weekend when her 20 hour flight lands in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jennifer’s story is not typical for a child from her background in Nigeria. With a father who has no job and a mother who works as a housemaid, there was very little hope for Jennifer to extend her education. These types of things only happen to children of the very wealthy in Nigerian society. According to Jennifer who is the second of seven children, “Our family of 9 live in a small one bedroom with one parlor apartment. Both of my parents help us with the little that they have. It is difficult to get what we want as their kids but we understand the situation of our family, so we are grateful for what we can get.”
Jennifer’s younger siblings were accepted into the A2S After School Academy at a time when A2S could only cater to primary and nursery school aged children. Rather than give up, Jennifer decided to start serving as a volunteer, because when she volunteered, she could also get a hot meal. A year later, A2S expanded the program to include secondary school students. Jennifer was the first to enroll! To many of us, the choice of volunteering to get a free hot meal might seem farfetched but to Jennifer and her family, it meant the world.
“The food that is served to each child at the A2S After School Academy is what three people will eat in my house. By helping us with our schoolwork and giving us a hot meal each day, it reduced the amount of stress that was put on my parents. Sometimes the little things we do for people, occupy the biggest parts of their hearts…this is the case of A2S and my family. ”
Speaking of big hearts, Jennifer is also one with a big heart. A respectful, smart and beautiful young lady, Jennifer’s attitude at every turn has reflected a deep sense of gratitude. “When I was told that I was selected to continue my studies in the U.S.A., I thought I was dreaming! I did not believe it was true. When the embassy official told me that my visa was approved, I wanted to jump up and scream for joy because I was so excited… but I couldn’t.” She adds, “I want to say thank you to A2S, especially to President Andrew Lovedale, for giving me this opportunity to study in the U.S.A. I also want to thank God for his mercies upon my life. I promise that I will always give my best and make everyone proud.” Little does Jennifer know that we are already so proud of her!
Jennifer will be starting a new phase of her life at Gaston Day School in North Carolina and will live with her amazing host family, Dr. and Mrs Brown. From one community to the next, Jennifer looks forward to continue walking her humble path, one that has led her this far.
We are so thankful to everyone who believes with us that location or socio-economic status should not determine whether a child can dream or not. Her parents might not be able to afford a trip to the U.S.A, put three meals on the table, or send her to school with all the supplies she needs, but one thing is sure, Jennifer can now afford to pursue her dreams.
About 145 children currently attend the A2S after school academy in Nigeria daily. They receive the gift of a hot meal, and get help through educational programs that provide a safe, fun and constructive atmosphere for them after school.