Liberia Partnership rolls out new scholarship initiative
By Paul Black
PEORIA – The Liberia Partnership announced a new scholarship initiative during its report to the 2014 Annual Conference in which churches or individuals can sponsor a Liberian child’s education.
A gift of $175 to the conference’s scholarship program can send a child that you will know by name to a specific school in Liberia for a year. The initial goal of 500 scholarships has been set for the 2014-15 school year with the long-range goal of sending 50 students from each of the Liberia Annual Conference’s 21 districts to a United Methodist School.
The $175 gift provides a child a one-year scholarship that includes:
- Tuition and other school fees
- School uniforms and shoes
- School supplies
“World Vision and Compassion International are Christian organizations impacting the lives of children all over the world,” said Keith Zimmerman, chair of the Liberia Partnership Committee. “Some of you and some in your congregations may sponsor children through these organizations. This is wonderful! God bless you for doing that. But how would it look if the IGRC began to make a significant impact in Liberia by sending children to school?”
Zimmerman noted that the World Vision sponsorship is $35 per month and Compassion International is now $38 per month to sponsor a child. The IGRC scholarship is less than $15 per month.
For more information, contact IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator Bunny Wolfe at 217-529-2749 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Wolfe also mentioned a new 18-month Liberia calendar from July 2014 to December 2015 now available for purchase. Information will be posted on the IGRC website in the near future at www.igrc.org/liberia
Carol Sims reported on the Teacher training team that went to Liberia in July 2013 to assist Liberian teachers. She noted that education is the key to Liberia’s recovery. The United Methodist Church has been instrumental in the building and current operation of 100 schools throughout the country. In all, 39 teachers from 20 different schools attended training in one of two sites where it was held. A second teacher training is scheduled for July 9-23, 2015.
“We made it clear that we did not come with all the answers, but rather wanted a sharing of ideas and methods that would help us all,” Sims said. “Imagine a classroom full of young adults hanging on your every word. I had the feeling that I was working with baby birds, leaning forward and eager for every morsel. I was touched by their spirit and attitude. We started and ended each day with a devotion and prayer. Their singing and their prayers for us, their well-worn Bibles and memorized scriptures were overwhelming and humbling.”
Sims noted that classes were crowded with 35 to 40 students, no supplies other than a chalkboard and usually no electricity. Books are scarce and libraries are scarcer. Education consists of copying information and memorizing it. Teachers are paid US$80 a month when it is available. A large bag of rice alone is US$50.
In March, Carol Russell and Wolfe worked with Helen Roberts-Evans, a missionary who is the Liberia Annual Conference’s Director of Education to begin an IGRC Scholarship Initiative. Russell visited the Sinoe and Kru Coast districts – the partner districts for the Cache River District.
“They believe in the midst of their modest living, God will provide their needs,” Russell said. “As we visited 12 churches in Sinoe, 10 churches in Kru Coast and United Methodist schools in both districts, you could hear in their voices and their words in their greetings that God would use us to help them with their needs: pastor’s salary support, scholarships and reconstruction of churches and schools. There are many children who need an education in all 21 districts of Liberia. Will you answer the call to help God’s children in your partner districts?”
Wolfe reported that an outbreak of Ebola in neighboring Guinea caused a July trip to Liberia to be postponed. A team of young adults will travel to Liberia Dec. 30 and focus on safe water and health training with the possibility of assisting in the digging of wells in the Monrovia area. Three trips are scheduled for 2015.
Zimmerman also reported on the 2013 Liberia Partners Summit, which was held at Alton Main Street UMC in November. In all, 68 persons from 13 U.S. states and Liberia were in attendance. The first summit in 2012 was organized and implemented by the IGRC Partnership team. Leadership for the 2013 expanded to include persons from Indiana and the Detroit conferences.
The 2014 summit will be held in the Detroit Conference Nov. 13-14 at Nardin Park UMC in Farmington Hills, Mich. Additional membership on the steering team is coming from the Baltimore-Washington and North Carolina conferences.