Muriel Garland has set herself a seemingly impossible task. But she is determined.
She is pulling out all the stops to raise $16,500 in tuition fees to have Majeed Mashiri, a student from a poor village in Africa, join Thompson Rivers University’s Applied Sustainable Ranching program in Williams Lake.
The goal is to have Majeed start the program in January which means she needs to raise the tuition fee by the end of November to provide time for Majeed to secure his student Visa.
Majeed lives in Wa, Ghana, a village which until recently didn’t even have a safe source of drinking water.
One could say that it was kismet or fate that started Muriel on her quest to bring Majeed to Williams Lake.
Muriel met Majeed a few years ago while visiting her daughter, Dallas Garland Jasper, and twin granddaughters, Holly and Michelle, in Port Townsend, Washington. The girls brought Majeed home for dinner one night where she learned his story.
The top student in his village, Majeed won an international scholarship to spend the last two years of high school at the West Sound Academy in Washington where he became that school’s top academic student and was selected as their valedictorian.
In his university application letter, Majeed explains that he wants to further his education in Canada so that he can help provide safe drinking and waste water systems, and improve employment in his country.
“Many women and children in villages here spend endless hours each single day, fetching water from far away, from mostly contaminated sources, and then return to the village carrying full 45-pound basins on their heads,” Majeed explains.
“When a water solution is set in motion, farming will become possible.”
“I want to improve upon the lives of the people in my country and whom I encounter in life.”
Recently a non-government agency built a well in his community.
“I organized all my friends and we helped in digging and putting up the well.”
As a volunteer Majeed has also spent time teaching six subjects to Grade 5 students in his village.
“It made me so happy to know that not only did I have an impact on the lives of those kids and their families, but I was also contributing to the development of my small village in a very special way,” Majeed says.
“The kids are our future leaders, I always tell myself.”
During their discussions, Majeed told Muriel about his hope to continue with his university education in the U.S. but didn’t have the money to do so.
Muriel suggested Majeed try coming to TRU in Williams Lake where the fees for international students are more reasonable than those in the U.S.
This was about a year before TRU’s Applied Sustainable Ranching program began.
When the program was started a year ago, Muriel knew it was the perfect fit for Majeed and began working on ways for him to join the program.
It would be a monumental task given that tuition for Canadian students is $6,000 per year compared to $16,500 per year for international students.
“Majeed can help us to put Williams Lake on the map as a university town with a specialty in agriculture,” Muriel says.
“I think having Majeed here is a win, win. Our local students will learn what it is like in his country and he will learn about Canada and take home the skills he needs to help his community.”
The Applied Sustainable Ranching Diploma Program is the first of its kind in British Columbia.
By the end of the two-year program graduates have the tool kit for building and managing diversified, resilient ranching operations in B.C. and around the world, as well as the expertise to apply to any agriculture enterprise in any region. They can also go on to earn a four year degree in agribusiness at Olds College in Alberta.
Muriel says Majeed is very shy but has pushed himself to come out of his shell to become a very good speaker.
She is now sending out letters to service clubs, businesses and calling on the public in general to help her to raise the money needed for Majeed’s tuition.
When he isn’t working on a local ranch or farm as part of the practical work with the program, Majeed will board with Muriel and her husband, Brian.
Donations are also needed for textbooks which will be about $1,000 and for Majeed’s air fare.
Muriel will be making a short presentation about Majeed during the celebration for the first year graduates of TRU’s Applied Sustainable Ranching Program that will take place at the Tourism Discovery Centre, Friday, Nov. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Receipts for tax purposes will be provided for donations of $100 or greater. The Cariboo Foundation is receiving the donations.
Cheques should be addressed to Cariboo Foundation with the note Team Majeed in the memo line.
Donations can be dropped off at Vanderburgh & Company or at the TRU office.