24 July 2023

Improving Access and Inclusion in Health Services for Disadvantaged Rural Communities and Tackling Youth Unemployment in Nigeria

The CSC is excited to share another impact case study as part of our on-going evaluation work identifying and demonstrating the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships.

ACEYSA representatives offering care items and support to the parents of paediatric patients at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.

Featured in this case study is Violet Tampiooru Gomba, a 2018 alumnus who completed a Master’s degree in Genomic Medicine at St George’s University of London through a Commonwealth Scholarship. Violet is the co-founder of ACEYSA (Assist Children, Empower Youths, Support Adults), an NGO that has successfully implemented projects that have reduced inequalities in health and education in Nigeria. Through ACEYSA, Violet has played a pivotal role in implementing projects that have resulted in improved access to health care for marginalised rural communities, financial empowerment for youths, and access to education for less privileged individuals in Nigeria. She has been instrumental during the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting the training of laboratory staff in Nigeria on molecular biology techniques.

Violet’s development work supports four CSC Development Themes: Access, inclusion and opportunity; Promoting global prosperity; Strengthening health systems and capacity; and Science and technology for development. Moreover, her work contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly: No Poverty (SDG1); Good Health and Well-Being (SDG3); and Reduced Inequalities (SDG10).

Violet described how she applied the knowledge and skills she had honed during her studies immediately after her Scholarship when they were needed most in her home country, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

‘In 2020, I joined a diagnostic laboratory and because I have a background in molecular biology, and the theoretical understanding. I’ve done a lot of practical work during my Master’s studies, so I was able to translate those skills. We had staff working for clients who had some knowledge on molecular biology, but not on testing for Covid. So, I took them through the laboratory protocol, how to do the experiments, from basic testing, infection and septic control. Also, because I delivered presentations during my Master’s studies, I was able to organise these trainings and teach the scientists on different laboratory techniques. I had to do a lot of written reports during the Commonwealth Scholarship so that helped me to organise the handouts for the scientists during the trainings.’

When contemplating the personal impact of her Commonwealth Scholarship, Violet reflected on the most significant change to herself as a result of her Scholarship:

‘Frankly, I would not have been able to afford a Master’s degree study abroad and in the UK without funding. Thus, the Commonwealth Scholarship enabled me to acquire a Master’s degree from a top university and in one of the biggest and most beautiful cities in the UK – London. The Scholarship eliminated financial pressure which allowed me to focus on my studies and culminated in my receipt of a distinction grade. I have honed my scientific writing, research and critical thinking abilities. I have also gained specialist knowledge and diverse skills to contribute positively to the field of genetics. In addition to the opportunity to advance my career, through the Scholarship I formed life-long relationships and obtained financial resources to support the NGO I co-founded prior to the receipt of my Commonwealth Scholarship award. My experience during the Scholarship is something that I will always refer to as I progress through life.’

Out of all her developmental work following the Commonwealth Scholarship, Violet identified the ACEYSA Scholarships as the most significant change that she has brought to her community as a result of her Commonwealth Scholarship:

A volunteer training students on crocheting during the ACEYSA skill acquisition programme in Mushin, Lagos.

‘I would say the ACEYSA scholarship scheme has helped indigent students to access education. When I reflect on the impact of the Commonwealth Scholarship on my life, even though the Scholarship is over, the knowledge I have acquired, the exposure I have gained, ten years, fifty years down the line it’s something that will always be part of my life. It has formed my culture, it has formed a lot of behaviours, it’s transformational. Also, I’m always passionate about education, I advocate for education, so for me, I would say the most significant change to my community is the scholarships project, because it empowered disadvantaged students with the knowledge required to navigate life. I would like to think that when you give people the right knowledge they need to navigate life, you’ve done, I would say 90% of what is needed for them to have a better life.’

Read Violet Tampiooru Gomba’s Case Study here.