A group of foreigners, who have been left stranded here following the Lambirds Academy scandal, is not pleased they are being sent home without a refund.
The alleged students told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview on Thursday, March 26, that they are contemplating suicide if plans to send them home proceed. The students said they are from poor families back home and they cannot return home without money.
With assistance from the United Nations International Organization of Migration, the Government of Saint Lucia has started making plans to have the students returned home.
However, the students also believe that once they return home, there is no hope that they will be given a refund for the money they paid to pursue studies at Lambirds Academy.
One student told SNO that she was under the impression she would have received the necessary training that will eventually allow her to continue her studies in the United States.
Selisha Chhetri, 23, of Nepal told SNO that she paid US$8,000 to study at Lambirds Academy and she is not about to give it up just like that. Chhetri said her family took a bank loan to pay for her studies.
The Nepalese student told SNO that she first arrived in Saint Lucia on January 28 and was taken to a local hotel where she was required to pay a rent of EC$450 per month.
She said this was not the initial agreement. According to her, she was asked by the school to pay US$500, which would have essentially covered her rent for the time she would have been here.
Chherti noted that when she started classes, she realised that the teachers were always late. She alleged that the teachers were inexperienced and could not teach the course curriculum.
Upon recognising this, she decided to lodge a complaint with the principal of Lambirds, who instead of trying to fix the situation, allegedly offered her jobs at a cruise ship, a restaurant and a hotel.
The student said she refused to take up the offer and decided to file a report with the police. However, she was not the only one at the school that experienced the same situation.
When the matter was reported to the police, Chherti said an investigation was launched, and she along with her other colleagues were informed that the school will no longer be in operation.
Chherti, who was pursuing a course in professional cookery and bakery at Lambirds, said she does not want to return home until the matter is resolved.
“We are frustrated and will kill ourselves in front of immigration,” she told SNO.
Meanwhile, Ramjan Deuja, another student, said that he too is frustrated by the situation and is not prepared to return home, especially without a refund.
Deuja, 22, of Nepal, told SNO that aside from the US$8,000 all students paid for tuition, he and his friends paid approximately US$16,000 in total to pursue studies here.
The man said that apart from taking a loan from the bank to acquire the money to study, he was also loaned money by relatives and friends in Nepal, which is another reason why he doesn’t want to return.
Deuja said he was hoping to get a good- paying job somewhere in the Caribbean or the United States, to help support his wife and other family members back home.
He too said he is contemplating suicide, if he has to return home.
Four men, including the chief executive officer of Lambirds, have been arrested and charged with human trafficking in connection with the alleged internet scam at Lambirds Academy that left a group of foreigners stranded in St. Lucia. The CEO was also charged with money laundering.
The Ministry of Education has come under scrutiny via the media regarding the granting of permission to Lambirds to operate in St. Lucia.
However, Education Minister Dr. Robert Lewis has told the local media that Lambirds Academy has not been accredited by the government of St Lucia. He said the document he signed, merely approves the work done by the Ministry of Education.