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First Oars


I extend a warm welcome to this latest edition of our newsletter. It has been some time since our last newsletter and we've named this edition with the belief that the journey of a thousand nautical miles begins with a single stroke of the oars. So, what have we been up to?

Our inaugural annual undergraduate scholarship program took off even better than our best expectations. When we initially called for applications, my partner Bisi and I were uncertain about how we would be received. In a society with low trust, we wondered if people would see us as just another entity. But, to our surprise, we received well over a thousand applications. We are grateful for the trust in our vision.

We aimed for a selection process that was both transparent and thorough, conducted by individuals other than ourselves, the founders. Our dear friends and mentors of the Foundation stepped in and meticulously reviewed the submitted essays, academic records, identification documents, and other criteria as shared with them. After days of careful deliberation, the initial shortlist of 30 emerged, a result of diligent assessment and discussion among the judges. Next came the interviews, where we had the privilege of meeting these enthusiastic young individuals and hearing their stories and aspirations. The task of selecting the final 11 scholars was demanding, but with Faith, we made the decisions. Each of the 11 recipients could not have been better chosen as torchbearers of our mission. During the Awards and Onboarding ceremony, which we chose to broadcast on television and publish in newspapers across the Niger Delta region, we had the opportunity to meet some of their families. It was an emotional moment when the mic was passed to family & friends present and we heard the impact of the scholarship and the relief it provided to their families. For some of the beneficiaries with younger siblings, it meant that the younger ones could now receive academic support. My wife and I agreed to ourselves and everyone present at the event, that we are humbled and inspired to do more. While our primary focus remains on facilitating access to tertiary education, we also extend our support to younger scholars. This year, we've supported other projects, including the 2023 Bayelsa Expo facilitated by Dr. Michael Tarerefa in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. This science and math fair showcased our brilliant young students from Primary Six to Senior Secondary School, demonstrating the possibilities of curious and collaborative minds. Notably, many of the top prize winners were female students, underscoring our commitment to support girls in education and technology. Also this year, one of our three scholarship beneficiaries at DSC Technical High School in Ovwian Aladja achieved remarkable success by securing a record third victory in the highly competitive Omafuru Foundation Spelling Bee, an annual competition aimed at improving students' literacy in Delta State.

We are equally thankful to have been able to facilitate access to the AlteSchool AFRICA for two of our beneficiaries, offering them a valuable opportunity to embark on careers in technology. We firmly believe that a victory for one is a victory for all. I must also express our deep appreciation to those who have supported us on this journey. Gossy Ukanwoke and his team at SVGaming, owners of BetKing Naija, provided not only timely support but also a morale boost with their unwavering commitment. We are equally grateful to Ikechukwu Uyagu for his generous financial and personal support, for standing by us without hesitation, regardless of the time or place. We salute you, dear friend. Our heartfelt thanks extend to our support network and mentors, including Ejiro Akem, Ikenna Okonkwo, Adedire Adesiji, Emenike Chukwuma, Manasseh Egedegbe, Tamunokuro Braide, Rex Ihute, and Oke Foghi. Thank you for volunteering your time, immense talent, and wealth of experience to help in shaping the futures of the next generation. God bless you all. To continue this voyage and reach even more destinations swiftly, we remain open to individual and corporate partnerships with those who share our vision of positively impacting the lives of Nigerian students.

Warm regards, Batarhe Foghi Founder, Ojah Scholarship Foundation.

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