Rhoda Philip, a fourth year student at UBC Sauder School of Business is going the extra mile to help South Sudanese children in refugee camps get the education they deserve. Sponsor a Child’s Education UBC is a campus-wide initiative that was started in 2015 by Philip, Vanessa Yang – also from UBC Sauder, Deng Elijah from UBC Science, and Kuol Biong from UBC Arts. This year marks the high school graduation of their first set of sponsored students.
Philip says that there are many children in refugee camps who do not have the access to proper education, and she hopes to help turn this situation around.
“Currently we are prioritizing assisting those where the situation is quite bad. In the refugee camp where we sponsor students, the ratio of teacher to student can be one to a hundred,” she said.
Forging philanthropic partnerships
Volunteer partners of Sponsor a Child’s Education UBC, who are teachers in the refugee camps, conduct interviews with students. They then send their recommendations to the team in Vancouver, who offer the students scholarships at Lodwar High School and Turkana Girls Secondary School in Kenya.
“For now we’ve started with refugee students from my background - South Sudan – where the need is dire,” explained Philip.
Sponsor a Child’s Education UBC raises funds through donations, fundraising events, and their annual conference, which is held on March 10th this year.
Initially, the club funded two students. This year they partnered with D2D Destiny Foundation – an initiative started by UBC Sauder student Arthur Chan – and have raised enough funding to sponsor five more children.
Steven Minns, a lecturer in strategy and business economics at UBC Sauder, and Philip’s mentor, was the first to suggest this philanthropic partnership. He is an honorary board member of the foundation and felt it would be a good fit since both initiatives support youth related issues.
Chan was immediately interested. “As soon as Prof. Minns told me about it, it really clicked for me and my team to have the opportunity to support South Sudanese refugee children receive an education,” he said.
Together, they raised $10,000, and both Chan and Philip plan to build on this partnership between their initiatives in the years to come.
Building leadership skills
For Philip, the idea of Sponsor a Child’s Education UBC did not come out of the blue. Originally from South Sudan, she grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya, and was spotted by students from Murray State University in the U.S. when they visited her camp with a similar initiative. They sponsored her education, where she excelled in high school, making it possible for her to study her BCom at UBC Sauder.
UBC Sauder student gives back by sponsoring refugee children’s education