-Story of Disable AMEZU Student pleads for Assistance as Graduation draw nears
By: Trokon Wrepue – [email protected] +231776132708
David Yourfee, a 36-year old disabled shoe cleaner who sits at the front gate of the Africa Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU), will form part of the University graduation in May of 2022.
Youfee relies on shoe cleaning to pay his tuition and survival daily.
People living with disability in Liberia are faced with enormous challenges; including resentment and disheartenment from various sectors of society.
Most frustratingly, these discriminations are within families as well.
For people living with disabilities to be educated in Liberia requires supportive families due to the government’s blind eye to the disabled communities.
In Liberia, parents see educating persons with disabilities as a waste of time and effort.
In most cases, parents or guardians rather use such children to become breadwinners for their households through bagging along with various street corners.
With Yourfee scenario, he refused to be a beggar, therefore, he started cleaning shoes while he seeks higher education at a faith-based university.
According to Yourfee, he was born disabled and has lived with no other source of income but only depends on the cleaning of shoes to survive.
Yourfee said during the 14 years of civil war in Liberia, he and other relatives were displaced in neighbouring Guinea where they have gone to seek asylum.
He began attending one of the schools in Guinea in 1993 before their return to Liberia after the war subsided.
Upon arrival, Yourfee enrolled at the Jewel Howard-Taylor High School from where he graduated in 2007.
Following high school, it was a difficult moment for Yourfee to enter university due to his inability to afford tuition because of his condition.
Yourfee told The Stage Media(TSM) that at first, he sat the University of Liberia entrance examination but the result was cancelled due to some circumstances he has no idea about.
Later, that same year he wrote the African Methodist Episcopal University AMEU entrance exam and again the University of Liberia; the result was annulled due to rioting on the test day.
He said the cancellation of the results did not discourage him from writing another exam.
“I went to the University of Liberia. During the first-semester entrance exams, the school sent me to Fendell Campus in Montserrado, but I was not discouraged. I wrote the test again but, the results were cancelled.”
The same incident occurred at the AMEU; he was not able to enroll that year.
Yourfee narrated that if even he had successfully passed those exams, he would not have made it due to the inaccessibility of the campuses of both universities.
Yourfee said the accessibility of stairways of universities remains a challenge to people living with disabilities.
“At AMEZU it is tough, to even climb the stairways to attend classes was very difficult for me. I always needed help from friends and other individuals to make my way upstairs,” said Youfee.
“I have to nearly all-day wear slippers to successfully climb the stairs because the place is slippery and using shoes would have caused more difficulties,” he told TSM.
According to him, AMEZU instructors worked with him in the spirit of cordiality and helped him as he struggled with his papers and other school activities due to his disabilities.
Yourfee lauded Dr. Benjamin Lartey, President of the university for always looking out for him and helping with financial and other assistance while in school.
Following years of studies and struggle, Yourfee is expected to join the host of other students to graduate from AMEZU in May of 2022.
A specific date for the graduation ceremony has not been made public by the university but it is expected that the ceremony will be held in May of this year.
Yourfee needs to pay US$750.00 to enable him to participate in the graduation ceremony but how to raise said amount has remained a major challenge.
According to him, he has written several prominent Liberians and also reached out to the Commission on Disability in Liberia for assistance but no positive response.
“I have struggled all those years but the only thing now is how to raise that huge amount to pay the school that will enable me to be a part of the ceremony.
“Being part of the graduation it’s the only thing that will make me happy,” Yourfee said.
Referring to one of his disabled colleagues, Yourfee said, “I do not want to be like one of my friends (a visually impaired fellow) who graduated without a souvenir. I want to be well attired to attend my graduation ceremony and be happy with my friends.”
He called on goodwill individuals to help him raise his graduation fees as the date for the graduation ceremony draws closer.
“I want to graduate from university and find something else to do. I am thinking about entering any computer school to learn computer. I think this added knowledge will help me further,” Yourfee said.
Yourfee is a father of a four-year-old daughter.
He claimed that the mother of his daughter has since abandoned the relationship due to his condition.
He told TSM that the child’s mother took their daughter to Grand Cape Mount County where they stayed.
“She took our daughter to Grand Cape Mount County and the child was not in school. So I decided to take the child for her to live with me. I am now sending her to school just to prepare her for the future,” he said.
David Yourfee can be reached on +231770246883/886463993 for help.