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Determined Student Finds Route to College

  • To raise money for college courses, Marthaline Nuah sold fruit at the Saniquellie market in Nimba County, Liberia, before applying for a government scholarship that changed her life. (Photo: The Carter Center)

Marthaline Nuah is determined to get a college education.

There is no university in her village in northeastern Liberia, so she left home and moved in with an aunt who lives in Saniquellie, which is the capital of Nimba County and home to a community college. Her aunt gave her the money to pay for college entrance exams, which she passed, and for the college’s admission fees. But there wasn’t enough left over for courses.

Refusing to give up, she began selling popcorn, fruit, and milk in Saniquellie’s bustling street markets to try to raise the money herself.

Then one day, she heard a radio show that changed her life.

Members of the Nimba County Freedom of Information Network, which is supported by The Carter Center, were on air discussing women’s right to request public information and giving examples of the powerful and transformative impact of information. One example involved filing a freedom of information request with the Ministry of Education to learn about available scholarships to assist with school fees.

Nuah decided to give this a try.

She wrote a letter and set out for the local education office. Within moments of handing over her letter, she received a scholarship application, which she filled out on site and left with an officer at the ministry’s front desk.

Soon she got the good news: Her high grade-point average qualified her for a scholarship, enough to cover two years of schooling.

"Marthaline’s story is just one example of the power of information," said Kari Mackey, an associate director in the Carter Center’s Rule of Law Program. "With support from such partners as Irish Aid, we’ve spent the better part of a decade spreading the word in Liberia about women’s right to access information, working with government offices and civil society to improve access as well as directly with women to help them make requests that can lead to life-changing information."

Today, Nuah is studying agriculture at Nimba County Community College and dreaming of becoming one of Liberia’s most successful vegetable farmers.

"I’m very happy to receive a scholarship from the Liberian government through the use of the Freedom of Information Law," she said. The scholarship, she continued, has "changed my life and given me hope."

Learn more about the Center's Rule of Law Program »

Learn more about the Inform Women, Transform Lives Campaign »

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