Operation Connection connects students in need with sponsors. Scholarship amounts are designed to cover most of the cost of tuition, books, uniforms, and shoes for a whole school year. What is a small amount to us can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life in Sierra Leone.
Sponsor a Student
Operation Connection is one of the mission activities of OC Ministries and was begun in 2005 to provide scholarships to promising, needy students in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Many children lost one or both parents in the recent civil war. Also, because families are large and often poor, many students drop out of school because of their family’s inability to afford tuition and fees for all their children.
To date, over $200,000 has been raised in scholarships for needy students. Some of the earlier scholarship recipients have completed their high school and college education and are now helping to improve their communities. This ministry is named OPERATION CONNECTION because it is set up so that the student and the sponsor may establish a personal connection and the sponsor may track the student’s educational progress.
Initially, Operation Connection focused on secondary and college students because education through the 6th grade is mandatory and is provided by government schools. This year the program has been expanded to include primary and nursery school students because government schools are often overcrowded and the quality of education can be inferior to that offered by private schools. The UMC schools are recognized as one of the top providers of quality education in Sierra Leone.
How Operation Connection Works
Students are nominated to apply for scholarships by teachers, principals, and pastors. Nominees’ applications are reviewed by a Selection Panel of educators and clergy to identify promising students who are most in need. Secondary school and college students are interviewed by the Selection Panel to articulate their educational goals and to demonstrate their desire to complete their education. At the end of this process, the Selection Panel provides Operation Connection with a list of eligible applicants. The most promising applicants for the school year beginning in September, have been selected. We are now seeking sponsors for these deserving students.
The older scholarship recipients (secondary and college) are expected to send a “thank you” communication to their sponsor after they receive their scholarship funds. Periodic communication between sponsors and students is encouraged as well, but not required. At the end of the school year, students are to send a letter of thanks along with a copy of their school results to the sponsor. (Most likely, nursery school students will not send thank you notes.) Some correspondence may come via the internet; however, service is unreliable in Sierra Leone. Some communications will come through OC Ministries via bulk mail; others will be carried by UMC mission teams visiting Sierra Leone and then forwarded to the addressees.
What Scholarships Support
Scholarship amounts cover school fees and other expenses such as uniforms, shoes, and books for an entire school year. Normally, school fees are paid directly to the student’s school, with the remainder going to the student’s family to cover other school-related expenses. This year, the typical scholarship amount for the various levels of students is as follows:
- Nursery School- $45
- Primary School (Grades 1 – 6)- $80
- Secondary School (Grades 7 – 12)- $200
- College & University- $300 to $500 (depends upon school & program)
Choosing to support a student this year does not obligate you to continue support in the future. However, continued support is encouraged, as this motivates students to study hard and continue their education.
For more information about sponsoring a student see right.
To sponsor a student
If you are interested in supporting a student (or students) this year:
- Complete a Sponsor Pledge Form and send it to Larry Shelton, Treasurer for OC Ministries, at the address below along with your check payable to "Lake Harriet United Methodist Church”*
- You will receive a your student’s application form and photo. (Nursery school students are not filling out an application form. Photos for them may not be available now, as many are not yet in school. However, we will try to get a group photo that includes your nursery school student after school begins.)
If you have questions, please contact Larry Shelton. Larry administers the scholarship program through Lake Harriet UMC along with Rev. Mariama Bockari, District Superintendent for the UMC in Sierra Leone.
Thank you for your interest in this program. If you know of others who might be interested in supporting a student, please have them contact Larry.
4609 Washburn Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55410
*Scholarships are tax-deductible. You will receive a tax-receipt for your donation.