In 2021, Ishmail Bai Bundu received a full scholarship from the Ireland Government, through the Ireland Fellows Programme supported by the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS).
The award, which caters for programme fees, flights, accommodation and living costs, serves to provide mentorship for future leaders, develop the capacity of young people to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in their respective countries, and also build long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with Ireland.
One year after Ishmail Bai was provided with the opportunity to leave his home country for the first time, he took to social media to celebrate his achievements as not only a recipient of the Ireland Fellows Programme. But also as a graduate of the University of Dublin, with second-class honours in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (Masters (Agri)).
In a post shared on Facebook, he wrote;
“I could have done better, and I wish I had done better, but my harvest is still excellent and productive to ensure a better yield in my future endeavours. I am excited to put into practice the skills I acquired during my course of study and I’m looking forward to a better, brighter and collaborative future, with a more open mindset to tackle challenges that may come my way or those who need my expertise. I’m proud of myself and all those who helped and believed in me.”
He also expressed his gratitude to all those who played a role in his success story, including the Irish Council for International Students, University College Dublin, the Department of Agriculture and Food Sciences, the Embassy of Ireland in Sierra Leone, Agriculture Value-chain Development Project under the Ministry of Agriculture, Njala University (Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology), EducAid Sierra Leone, Carrick Foundation, friends and family.
“I wish my father was alive to celebrate with me”
Ishmail Bai Bundu is a God-fearing and determined young man who despite losing his father in 2011, did not allow circumstances to decide his fate. He defiled all odds to achieve academic excellence, not just for his upgrade. But also for farmers in Rural communities in developing countries, where he hopes to put his knowledge into use, and also surmount greater challenges.
After completing his studies as a recipient of the Ireland Fellows Programme, he plans to return home and continue to make a positive difference.
Ishmail Bai Bundu remains a proud farmer boy.
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