Nurse Korlu Jallah at Kingdom Embassy School, Bernard Farm, Liberia
Much has happened in Liberia this past year as the country battled both COVID-19 and a failing economy bringing food insecurity to many Liberians. Westminster’s involvement in serving the children of the impoverished suburban Monrovia community has gone through a major shift of focus. After over a decade of working in partnership with Hope Mission School, we have transitioned to serving a second school in the same Bernard Farm area where Hope Mission is located.
Our new partner is Kingdom Embassy School and is located about a mile and a half from Hope Mission in Rock Hill. The Kingdom Embassy School was founded by Reverend David Kpadeh about two years after Pastor Boniface Diggs opened Hope Mission School to address the total lack of accessible schooling for the youth of a very broad area.
We know that our work at Hope Mission School helped that institution make great progress — adding physical facilities, scholarship and orphan assistance, educational supplies, vocational training, and access to the part-time services of a Registered Nurse providing “sick call” visits and health education needs of Bernard Farm’s children. Pastor Diggs has let us know that he wishes to exert greater control over matters at the school and believes the school is ready to function more independently. We will maintain our communication with Hope Mission School and pay special attention to the Ebola orphans their mission community has cared for with Westminster’s assistance since early 2015.
In transitioning to Kingdom Embassy School, we expect to face many challenges similar to our early years at Hope Mission. This includes providing scholarship assistance to expand access to school for many girls whose families prioritize educating boys when allocating their very limited resources. We are already funding a total of 50 full scholarships with our new educational partner with many recipients being younger children in pre-K, Kindergarten and lower elementary grades.
Food insecurity is widespread in Liberia. As we learn more about the conditions at Kingdom Embassy School and the Rock Hill neighborhood, we will undoubtedly develop strategies to address this issue while working to build the school’s capacity to better assist the families of many of the students. We will consider what vocational training opportunities may be appropriate and work with Rev. Kpadeh to identify specific needs for educational and hygiene-related supplies to support students and staff alike.
Noteworthy among our early efforts at Kingdom Embassy was Westminster’s Felicia Kollie-Gambles’ ability to procure 30 donated computers from the Elfun Society of the General Electric Company in Schenectady. These units were shipped out recently and are expected to arrive in late April. Also included in the computer shipment were 50 Mooncatcher reusable menstrual pad kits, 50 reusable cloth face masks, and 100 rubber gloves. Our initial shipment to Kingdom Embassy School arrived in early March and included educational and personal hygiene supplies and several hundred pieces of good quality used clothing for both children and adults.
Another early success has been the work of our Westminster-supported nurse, Korlu Jallah, RN. She has begun health education seminars for students, twice-monthly “sick call” visits, tending to minor ailments, and providing referrals to appropriate resources for more serious matters.
Scholarships, computers, and health care services are just the beginning of this exciting new effort to keep children healthy and in school. We look forward to keeping you all informed and involved!
By John & Lyn Kucij, Community Volunteers for Liberia Projects
John and Lyn are Schenectady residents who volunteer at Westminster on Liberian Projects. They both have over 50 years of experience with Liberia and have chaired numerous US-based Liberian activities and organizations. John Kucij authored the successful grant application for funding from Presbyterian Women and is overseeing the implementation of grant activities and management of grant funds. Lyn is a retired Physician Assistant and John retired from Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC).