Liberia Partnership Continues Strong


PEORIA – The seven-year-old Liberia Partnership, which started as a partnership aimed at assisting a country coming out of a 14-year civil war, has grown into a partnership that includes multiple conferences throughout the United States and Europe.

In November, the first-ever Liberia Summit was held at Alton Main Street UMC, where persons from 14 states joined together in looking at priorities for working together.
The list of accomplishments is impressive in the first seven years of the IGRC-Liberia Partnership:
  • Hundreds of children and youth now have the opportunity to attend school
  • Five schools are completed with a sixth – Cotton Tree High School in Kakata, Farmington District -- underway
  • 16 churches are built or renovated – two are underway However, we received word just last week that the New Buchanan UMC, a project still under construction, was damaged by a storm with strong winds. There is a commitment from the Popcorn Cluster in the Iroquois River District to finish St Paul UMC in Kakata Farmington District. That church currently stands as an empty, unfinished shell. Feb 2015 a team from Iroquois District will go to work on that building and hopefully dedicate its completion.
  • Three district parsonages have been completed
  • Approximately 40 to 45 wells have already been dug, prompting a new proposed well initiative.
“Our partnership is not about buildings and projects,” said IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator Bunny Wolfe. “The projects and God’s call gets us there. The real story is about changed lives - - both in Liberia and in our own conference. God continues to work and move in this partnership. To God, be all the glory!”
Scholarships: $397,780.91 has been sent through the Scholarship Advance 15124B. Donations this year currently stand at $10,081.96. “We are currently exploring a new direction in scholarship support to personalize scholarship support so you may know the actual student you are supporting in school,” Wolfe said. “We hope to initiate this by the time we meet for Annual Conference in 2014.”
Pastors’ salary support: Carol Russell, who was part of a six-person group from the Cache River District, went to Liberia to visit Cache’s two sister districts – Sinoe and Grand Kru.
“As a district, we discovered a huge responsibility – sharing the concern of pastor support with our people at home,” Russell said. “The Liberian pastors in these two districts earn between $1 and $7 per month. I was shocked! I also discovered that - not only is the pastor’s family not being provided for, but in Liberia, if a family cannot pay for education, the children do not go to school. The pastors are the leaders in their community or village, and their children cannot afford to attend school. What can we do?”
Water for Life: A new initiative – Water for Life – seeks to develop a training center to help not only United Methodists but others already working with well projects in Liberia:
  • To dig wells in a more cost efficient manner
  • To develop maintenance programs to provide operative wells that will continue to provide safe drinking water.  
“While in Liberia in April, we identified 10 sites in the Monrovia area and learned there are nearly 150 requests for additional wells throughout Liberia,” Wolfe said. “An IGRC Advance called IGRC Liberia Well Project has been established to support this new well program. The number is 6970.”
Agricultural Program: One of the outgrowths of the Liberia Summit was the need to support the agricultural program at Ganta Mission Station by purchasing chickens and hogs.
“Since annual conference last year, you have raised $24,555,” said Rev. J. Keith Zimmerman, chair of the Liberia Partnership committee. “The hog barns are full and the first litter of piglets have been sold. The chicken building is built and the first group of 700 chicks are now being sold with plans to purchase additional chicks every six months to have a rotation of income.”
Zimmerman said the main needs are to fence in the area in the area surrounding the chicken building and continued assistance to purchase additional birds, medication and food with immediate needs totaling about $10,000. Although a commercial grinder has been purchased to produce chicken and hog feed locally, it will take some time before there will be sufficient crops become available to make the feed.
An opportunity will be coming this conference year, inviting sponsorship of 4-H Clubs in Liberia undertaken by the Liberia United Methodist Conference. Further details will be forthcoming.