A thumb's up for education


By Bunny Wolfe
IGRC Coordinator of Missions and Outreach
During our recent trip to Liberia, we visited several of our schools, met some of our scholarship students, took student pictures and caught up on two building projects – New Hope United Methodist Church on the outskirts of Monrovia and Bethany United Methodist Church in Buchanan. 

This was our first trip back to Liberia since the Ebola crisis.  It has seemed forever since our last trip to Liberia in March 2014. How good it was to see everyone once again!  What a blessing to also learn NO ONE with whom we have worked and NO ONE we visited lost a family member to Ebola. That is a miracle!

Staying overnight in Gbarnga in order to visit with students at Tubman Gray United Methodist School,  we met little Hellen Tugbah.  After several photos, Hellen gave us a big “thumbs up” sign.  She is cute and has a personality that will win your heart. This beautiful, confident little girl will advance to K-2 for the 2016-2017 school year. In Liberia, children have two years of Kindergarten before entering first grade. Hellen is going to go places.  She is a bright child.

After taking photos of children, I visited with Helena, a Kindergarten teacher I met when we held a teacher training session several years ago at this same school.  She had taught Kindergarten over 25 years when we first met in 2009. I saw her passion for education and her love of children. Indeed, she was a veteran teacher who loved each and every student. We simply sat and talked. Today, Helena, is no longer able to teach, but she proudly took me into the elementary library where she continues to work with children. It was one of the nicest, well organized and well stocked library that I have ever seen in Liberia.

Another teacher training is scheduled for next summer.  We will interact and train elementary teachers at the Tubman Gray United Methodist School.
Teachers from surrounding United Methodist Schools will also attend.  If you know of teachers in your local church who might be interested in getting to know teachers in Liberia, please contact me at bwolfe@igrc.org.  There is still room for four to six additional teachers to participate in July 2017.

Looking at the photos of students, Helena’s eyes lit up with delight when she saw Hellen.  “That’s my granddaughter!  She’s named after me!”  The same twinkle was in Helena and Hellen’s eyes. Like all grandparents, Helena was very proud of her granddaughter. Like all grandparents, she hopes little Hellen will have a better life someday.  

Now is the time to think about the next school year.  As we begin school in August, schools in Liberia will also begin.  A donation of $175 to IGRC Advance # 6995 - Liberia Scholarships will help children as well as older students attend school in Liberia. This small amount will make a huge difference in the life of a student and that student’s family. Will you consider sponsoring a student in one of the Liberian United Methodist Schools?

Thanks, Hellen Tugbah, for your “thumbs up” to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference!