A 25-year-old corps member, Bright Ekong, speaks on why he decided to give a pupil at his place of primary assignment a six-year scholarship with part of his National Youth Service Corps allowance
Who is Bright Ekong?
My name is Bright Martins Ekong, an indigene of the Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I’m 25 years old. I have three younger siblings. I am the first child and we are all four boys. I am from a humble family background. We aren’t poor or rich. We are just an average family trying to make ends meet.
I graduated from the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where I studied Pure Chemistry. I started serving in July 2021, and I should be done serving next month (June 2022). I was posted to serve as a teacher at the Community Secondary School, Buguma, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was reported that you sacrificed your 10-month allowance to give a scholarship to a student in your school. How true is that?
I fulfilled the pledge to pay the pupil’s school fees from Junior Secondary School 1 to Senior Secondary School 3. I told myself that before I finish the national service, I must put a smile on someone’s face.
How were you able to do this despite the meagre sum paid to corps members monthly?
I disciplined myself not to spend more than N19,800 monthly, which was the initial payment awarded to corps members before it was raised to N33,000. By this, I was able to save N13,000 on a monthly basis for 10 months, which enabled me to pay for her tuition. I met with the school principal, who shared with me details on how to go about the scholarship process. Per session, we calculated everything, including her PTA, and it was estimated at around N11,000, and about N66,000 for the entire scholarship year.
Are you in any way related to the student? How did you get to know about her?
No, I am not in any way related to her, but she is my student at my place of primary assignment where I teach. I was moved to sponsor the 12-year-old student, Wealth Sokari, because of her brilliance, even though she was in a public school.
What motivated you to award her the scholarship?
My motivation came from goodwill. Wealth is a very brilliant girl and her passion for learning is superb. I was motivated because she was so brilliant. There was a day I noticed that she was so moody and I asked her if anything was wrong. She stated that her mum had been crying because she couldn’t afford to buy her books. Wealth wasn’t happy that her mom was really struggling to provide for her needs and it affected her.
What was the reaction of her family?
My support to her was to encourage her and others like her in a bid to boost their morale, which will develop their passion for learning as well as improve their intelligence quotient. I also learnt that her mom is a widow, who is really struggling. She was so excited about the scholarship, and she said she never expected that such help would come from an ordinary person like me.
Do you have other sources of income?
I’m a cinematographer and also venturing into general contracting. Aside from that, disciplining oneself is very important. You may have other sources of income and be unable to help people. Giving is a gift.
Do you want a national or state award for what you have done? Why?
No. I did it as a humanitarian service. I only helped for the sake of humanity. I think if one is a step ahead of the other person and you have the capability to help, you should. I’m hoping that this act of support from me encourages her to keep up with her academic excellence.
What are your plans after the service year?
Go into the labour market and establish my company, which will help to create job opportunities for fresh graduates like myself.
Credit: PUNCH Newspapers