By Bunny Wolfe
IGRC Missions and Outreach Coordinator
The IGRC Liberia Partnership launched a new scholarship initiative for children in Liberia at the 2014 Annual Conference.
Information is posted online at: www.igrc.org/liberia. For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations toward the IGRC Liberia Scholarship Initiative should be sent with Advance #6995 on the designation lines of all checks made out to IGRC. This will allow IGRC to send scholarship funds, along with a list of the sponsored students, two to three times a year instead of the funds trickling in through the general advance number. Using Advance #6996 will help both IGRC and Liberia better track students sponsored and those still needing sponsorship. Of the 968 students on our current list, less than 25 are currently sponsored. This will be our focus for not only this school year, but for the future.
Please consider making a difference in the life of a child and that child’s family in Liberia. Only $175 per year will not only provide the tuition, but also provide a school uniform, shoes and school supplies. This amounts to less than $15 per month and is much lower than the current sponsorship of children through other organizations.
Our initial goal is to sponsor a minimum of 50 students in each of the 21 districts in Liberia. Some of those districts have a limited number of United Methodist Schools, but there are still many children who dream of an education. Not all of the schools on our list are United Methodist schools but all of the students are connected with United Methodist families and will be followed by Helen Roberts-Evans who is a missionary assigned as the Director of Education in the Liberia Annual Conference. Helen works very closely with the schools in Liberia. She and her staff have developed a list of 968 students in need of scholarships. Some of these students are children of United Methodist pastors.
The need and desire for education remain strong in Liberia. It is evident in the ages of some of the students on the scholarship list. For instance, there are several students in the upper teen years that are only in the lower elementary grades. In one of the remote, rural districts there are students 17 and 18 years of age who are listed in the third and fourth grades. These are determined young adults seeking to better their lives.
This is not unusual considering the vast number of young adults who never had an opportunity to attend school during their 14 years of civil war and years following due to the lack of schools. I have often seen children sitting just below windows of schools in Liberia to catch words of the teacher inside the classroom because their parents could not afford to send them to school. In our recent trip to rural Liberia we saw many children carrying water or caring for smaller children who were not in school even though a government or church school was just a short walk from their homes.
Educating a child in Liberia provides hope to an entire family, including future generations. All parents want a better life for their children. Young adults yearning for education who have never had that chance are willing to attend classes with children in order to gain an education. I’ve seen it in many rural schools. It is also expected that educated adults will help other family members attain an education. This applies even to the needs of the extended family.
We can’t guarantee direct communication with all of the students on the scholarship list. Without the assistance of district superintendents in the remote, rural districts of Liberia, it will be very difficult to establish communication between a sponsor and a student. E-mail is not available in many parts of Liberia and there is no regular mail service. It is our hope that district superintendents will be willing to assist with communication exchanges by bringing letters to Monrovia when they are there for meetings. Our work teams may take letters from sponsors for district superintendents to deliver back into their assigned areas. However, due to the isolation of some of the schools, this will not always be possible. I guess my main question is do we really have to have a photo of a child and an occasional note to be willing to help that child attain an education?
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia is quoted as once telling the New York Times interviewer, “The most permanent thing is an education. They can steal your car, they can burn your house, but what you have in your head, nobody can take away from you.”
No, we can’t send every child to school in Liberia, but we will forever change the lives of children we do send to school. Will you prayerfully consider making a difference in the life of a child in Liberia by providing a chance for education?