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General News of Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Ghanaian Students Stranded In Venezuela

TEN STUDENTS who are on full government scholarship to study Medicine and other related courses in Venezuela are currently stranded as the state has refused to extend to them their agreed stipends for over a year now.

They are Ewoenam Deborah Dekportor (Medicine), Marie Immaculate D. D. Darko (Medicine), Rufai Abdul- Wahab (Medicine), Al-hassan Andani Dasana (Medicine), Prince Atiku (Medicine), Mariama Abdulai (Medicine), Anela Akasi Eduku (Medicine,) Joycelyn Maami Esi Yarkwah (Medicine), Anita Adwoa Davidson (Agric) and Rita Ohemeng (Agric).

The stranded students—eight of whom are studying medicine at the Escuela Latino Americana de Medicina Dr. Salvador Allende (Latin American School of Medicine)—were among the first batch of 10 Ghanaian students to whom government awarded full scholarships to study medicine between 2010 and 2017.

According to them, prior to their departure from Ghana, the Scholarship Secretariat made them understand that each student was entitled to a monthly stipend of $250, a $200 yearly allowance and a yearly book allowance of $360 for the 7–year stay in Venezuela.

On their arrival in Venezuela on May 6, 2010, their entitlements were channelled through Ghana’s Embassy in Brazil which they received on three occasions through the Embassy officials in Caracas.

However, subsequent payments amounting to $15,800 have been withheld by Ghana’s Embassy in Brazil with the explanation that it was used to cover transport allowances during the three visits to Venezuela.

This has compounded the suffering of the students who told DAILY GUIDE in a telephone interview that they have exhausted all monies with them and were now living on the benevolence of colleagues until their allowances come.

They indicated that all attempts to have Ghana’s consulate in Brazil release money to them have been difficult, as it also explained that it was waiting for response from the Scholarship Secretariat in Ghana after a couple of interactions.

What made matters worse for them, they disclosed, was their difficulty in operating foreign accounts to allow relations send them money as the economic rules and regulations in Venezuela barred them from opening such accounts.

They however lauded the Venezuelan government which close to a year now, on realizing their plight, has been helping them with some stipends for basic necessities like soap, cream and transportation, but described that as woefully inadequate.

The affected students were currently in their third trimester and have indicated that should government fail to come to their aid, they may be compelled to abandon the course and return, as the suffering was becoming unbearable.