Young African woman looks to continue her schooling in Cornwall

Young African woman looks to continue her schooling in Cornwall
Beti Girma prepares some traditional Ethiopian tea.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Beti Girma has already spent a couple of years in Cornwall – and the transplanted Ethiopian wants to finish her schooling right here in the Seaway City.

It was on March 23, 2013 that she made the move to Cornwall and took up residence with Sandra Knight and her husband Scott. The Cornwall couple have already adopted four children from Ethiopia, and took Girma under their wing a few years ago.

They helped her with schooling and other facets of life in Ethiopia, and a couple of years ago were granted permission by Immigration Canada to bring Girma to this country to stay with them on a student visa.

Girma said making the move to Cornwall has been eye-opening, and could eventually become life-changing.

When asked about some of the biggest changes she’s experienced since making the move to Canada, Girta answered without hesitation.

“I can eat three meals a day…maybe more,” she said matter-of-factly. “And it’s so safe here. I feel safe.”

Ethiopia remains a work in progress, both economically and politically. If residents wish to talk about the economy, or the government, it’s done in hushed tones, and only with trusted friends or family.

“To her, this is a dream,” said Sandra Knight. “We were helping her as best we could. But we wanted to get her to Canada.”

Knight, who has made as many as five trips to the African country since she and her husband adopted their last two children in 2007, said the country continues to struggle despite a young population that is educated and motivated to work.

But it appears a lack of jobs and a withering economy is holding young people back.

It’s why she wants to see Girma not only succeed at high school in Canada, but perhaps move on to post-secondary studies as well.

The problem is, it won’t come cheap. Because Girma is a non-resident, her education at Holy Trinity Secondary School must come out of pocket – to the tune of nearly $12,000.

An African Festival will take place Saturday, June 6 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Port Theatre in Cornwall.

The event will include an African bazaar, and Ethiopian food vendor and a traditional coffee ceremony.

And as a special treat, a performance by Watoto, a children’s choir from Uganda, will take place from 4 to 5 p.m.

For more information check out the Facebook page here, or contact Knight at 613-360-2966.

– With Seaway News files.

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