Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to share the story of a young person who is doing very well. Today is Emmanuel’s day. We are extremely proud of this young man. At the age of 15, he is one of the oldest boys at the orphanage where he lives. With this comes a bigger responsibility to not only help around the house, but also to be an example for the younger children in the home. Emmanuel consistently rises to these expectations.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of peace in Liberia. Civil war ravaged the country for decades and destabilized the entire infrastructure. Basic necessities such as jobs, health care, and education had become all but nonexistent. Many of the educated population fled for safety, leaving a huge hole in the education system. By the time schools started running again, almost every single child was behind. Displaced by these circumstances, many children also ended up living in orphanages during this time.
All over Liberia, students are getting ready to head back to school next week. Copybooks and bookbags are being bought, uniforms are being made, and the children are excitedly looking forward to starting the new school year.
Unfortunately, for some, this time of year can be one of stress and extreme financial burden. Along with school supplies, new uniforms, and shoes, there is also the expense of registration and school fees. Many parents and guardians often have difficulty getting the money to pay for all these things.
Liberia has a staggering unemployment rate of about 80%. There is also a huge illiteracy rate in the country. We are working hard to make sure the children that we serve attend school and are being properly educated. Without education, these children have no chance of leading their country out of this vicious cycle of poverty.
When Teddy was eight years old, she was homeless on the streets of Monrovia, Liberia. Her parents were killed during the 14 year-long civil war. She recalls a childhood of incredible suffering and constant hunger. She remembers sleeping under street market tables at night and dodging bullets by day. These memories are not easy for her to talk about.
Last Wednesday, a group of 30 teachers from five different orphanage schools gathered together for an all-day teacher training workshop. All of the teachers received training in phonics, reading, and mathematics based on the grade level that they teach. Each school also was given a set of textbooks that will help with the new teaching methods.
Joy is a shy and soft-spoken 13-year old who lives in one of the orphanages that we work with. She was moved to the orphanage approximately nine months ago, having been transferred from a safe home by the Ministry of Social Welfare. Joy has lived an extremely difficult life. She comes from an abusive past, has had little to no formal education, and she arrived at the orphanage with only the clothes on her back.
Mulbah is 22. He has NEVER gone to school. Due to a combination of a congenital eye disease and years of neglect he has irreversible eye damage. For most children in Liberia this would ensure a life of looking for odd jobs and never knowing where his next meal is coming from. This is how Mulbah’s life has been for years. Thanks to some help from our dear friend Michelle Quinn, Mulbah now has the opportunity for new sights in his future.