Thursday, October 23, 2008

limited jobs available


The one photo shows cooking over charcoal, which is made by the school staff. The other photo I titled, "girl friends." Kids are the same everywhere I think.

Incidentally, I joined an international organization, created as a place people can share needs and ideas world-wide. I invite you to read my comments there: My journal is entitled (what else) "Girls in Liberia." You can join yourself free.

Rubber is a huge product of Liberia and Western Africa. We passed the largest rubber plantation, Armstrong Rubber--roads paved, decent housing for their workers, a clinic, schools, etc. Isn't it amazing what money can provide, even in a developing country. The photos were taken at the second largest producer and shows the process. It is dangerous work.

If anybody wants to send me a check for the airfare, I want to go back. My heart is permanently filled with the generous sharing shown by the native people. :-)

I want to apologise for duplicating the photos on two blogs. This is hard to remember what I've already shared, especially since I'm doing the two blogs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

educated children are the future of Liberia

Darn, while downloading photos, I accidentally deleted this posting. POOF and a blank window.

I'm showing the programs at Camphor Mission School, where the enrollment has increased to 350 students and the new programs Frido Kinkolenge manages. The challenge taken on by the United Methodist Church's Liberian Conference is huge: get ex-combatants to turn in their guns, get kids off the streets and out of a life of crime and get everyone educated and ready for real jobs.

The one photo is of young women who are being taught to read and write and how to sew. One photo has their father, brother or husband attending a class to see what the women are doing. Computer classes, sewing, typing, literacy, it's all succeeding, it will just take time. In the meantime, I saw the look of hope in the eyes of the young children and joy in being alive.

More later.

young children the future of Liberia

A whole generation was lost to rebel fighting. The fighting was all about greed and power, and selling diamonds and gold. The rebels thought they could seize the best land and were often young men and women, who had no education, no job and they offered them the excitement of "taking" what they wanted by pointing a gun at someone.

Four new programs have been started by the United Methodist Church's Missionary, Frido Kinkolenge in Buchanan. In African culture girls grow up knowing that their role is to have children. One of the new programs helps young women get literacy skills, teachs how to sew, bake, so she can have a decent chance to earn some money. Ex-combatants (male and female) are offered an alternative to a life a crime and given typing lessons and computer training. Young children who are orphaned and living on the street are given daytime schooling and the last program is helping children at a refugee camp.

The "war" lasted over 10 years, while the then President Taylor piled fortune on fortune. He left before the election in 2005, with all the Liberia Government's money in a brief case.

This brings us back to Camphor Mission School and Frido's programs in nearby Buchanan. The enrollment in Camphor Mission school is increasing every year, and Frido has as many young people engaged in his program. The young people are happy to be structured and learning and getting one meal a day while at school. The drop out rate is minimul and the programs are succeeding.

The process will be slow, but there were encouraging signs of rebuilding and progress. For instance, a new agricultural program is hoping to grow all the food needed at Camphor Mission School. Sewing machines and computers have been donated and are used by many students. And you can see hope in the eyes of the students.

More later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

life at Camphor Mission school

It was interesting to see how people lived in Liberia. They made cooking oil (photos in another posting), grew their own food/harvested food growing wild, lived simply and were happy. Many generations lived in the same huts and all the staff, including teachers, were provided with living quarters. These photos show some women cooking, grinding cassava for today's use (tapioka, or meal used like porridge or FOFO), more on fofo later.

They have several goats and will build a herd of both goats to milk (for the children) and for meat.

Garfield Church is on campus and there is a photo of the inside, plus the drums that accompany the singing (the first hour of worship). Then I've included a photo of one of the women as she looks so sweet.

I have thousands of photos to share, so be patient, as I have other things to do too :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

children need an education

School had let out for vacation, leaving the resident students on the campus. The school year runs from October until July. The rainy season is from July until September.

While talking with students, I heard many say they wanted to get an education and then become a teacher, a doctor or something worthwhile. Camphor Mission school only has classes through ninth grade, because to add teachers to carry the education through twelth grade would require more teachers and more residences for the teachers. Incidentally, the teachers earn (US) $33.00-50.00 per month, with the upper salary paid to those who have graduated college. All the teachers get a roof over their head and a place for their family to sleep. Cooking is done outdoors. In January, temperatures can reach 110 here. In the photo of the palm tree, the items hanging from the branches looking like coconuts are nests of the rice birds.

Public schools (very limited geographicly) go through high school, but charge a tuition (little government support). Most children who graduate from Camphor Mission School don't go beyond 9th. grade. If a student has a high school graduation certificate they can usually get into a college for further education.

It's going to take years to rebuild the damage done by the civil war (waged over diamonds, gold, by greedy politicians), and already a whole generation has been lost when they were forced into the military as children. More about Frido Kinkolenge's programs to disarm and educate many of those young men and women.

Barbara and I send a little money each month to help the process of educating children at Camphor Mission school. It takes fifty cents to feed a child one meal a day in Liberia, fifty dollars to keep them in school (paying the teachers, giving them one meal a day at school, etc.). If you feel inclined you can send a tax deductible contribution (nothing kept out for overhead) to: General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 1501, New York, NY 10115. God bless you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our drive to Camphor Mission school

Camphor Mission school is about 100 miles south of Monrovia. The trip took about 4 hours, as the road is more pothole than pavement. Obviously there has been no money spent on maintaining the roads. People walk this distance, sleeping in the grass beside the road. The only water safe to drink is bottled, which few people can afford, or out of a borewell. The bushes are used for toilets, there is no toilet paper, nor showers.

We have come hoping to give hope to people who need everything. Ellen Johnson Serlif, President since 2005 is doing her best to eliminate corruption in the government, but with few police, I'm saw that it is every man for himself. The UN had a large military force in the country and cars/trucks marked UN Police were everywhere. One thing I noticed, was nobody was begging on the streets, when we were in Buchannan or Monrovia. When we walked down the street, no children ran up to us with their hands out, like in other countries.

People seemed to want to work and wherever money was donated, reconstruction was going on. We were warmly greeted at the school and I fell in love with 100 resident children at once. Oh, everybody shakes hand everytime they see you there and they have a special handshake.

African discoveries

We flew to Monrovia, Liberia, Western Africa in July, 2008. We were headed for the United Methodist supported Camphor Mission School, 100 miles south. The country was free of war by only a few years, so there were burned out buildings, no running water or electricity for the people living in Monrovia, a city of 1.3 million. Signs of damage were everywhere, but every street was jammed with vendor selling something and girls walking with trays of peanuts and other items, hoping to sell enough to buy their two cups of rice for the day. In addition to seeing severe poverty we experienced a theft from our van, while we were parked.