‘I wanted to drop out’: Mum of teenage shooting victim completes university degree

Rita Abifade and her son Godwin at the graduation ceremony. Picture: UEL

Rita Abifade and her son Godwin at the graduation ceremony. Picture: UEL - Credit: UEL

Rita Abifade was relaxing at a relative’s house in Stratford when she received the news that every mother dreads – her son had been shot.

Godwin, 16, had been with his cousin planning to go to a house party in Plaistow when tragedy struck.

Rita rushed to the scene, to find the street cordoned off by police and her son being lifted into an ambulance.

Though gun and knife crime has been on the rise in London, that her own son would be affected still came as a shock to Rita.

“He was not in a gang - he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she explained.

“He was in a chicken shop waiting to go to a party when masked gunmen entered the shop and starting firing.

“Boys from East Ham and Stratford can’t go to Plaistow. He didn’t know anything about that.”

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Luckily for him doctors were able to remove the bullet in his leg, but he was kept in hospital and missed school for more than a month.

Naturally the shooting, which took place just a few days after Christmas last year, also took its toll on Rita.

She was visited by the police and by social workers and wanted to move her family from the area.

And all this was all happening while she was in the final semester of her sociology degree at the University of East London (UEL). Understandably, she missed the deadline for her final project.

“I went into a depression,” she said. “I wanted to drop out.”

Thankfully for Rita the staff at UEL were supportive.

“My course tutor was sending me messages and emails,” she said. “My advisor was encouraging me that if I needed any help I should just ask.”

So Rita made an appeal and eventually submitted her dissertation in October. She passed and finally graduated this month, and was joined by her family at the ceremony.

“I feel so happy to be graduating today, to be surrounded by my husband, my two daughters and my son,” she said.

As for Godwin, he is now hoping to follow in his mum’s footsteps and gain a degree of his own.

“He went back to school, he did his exams, and he passed,” Rita said. “He’s now in the second year of his A-levels and wanting to go to university.”