Wednesday, February 10 began with a momentous occasion. Jesse & Jessica Phillips are young American couple serving in Liberia with For The Lamb organization, signed their very first property lease as a married couple, and it was right here in the City View Rehab community area of Liberia, an accomplishment few young people in America could boast of. We were able to contract with our own Mrs. Kebbeh Bryant, Dean of Students at the Heart of Grace School to provide an apartment they can move to in the weeks to come. Very soon, Julie Alexander, Missionary to Liberia, will be joining them in the same location. We are thankful that we are able to provide not only a safe place to live, but also a location close to the Heart of Grace School and 842 Computer School, where we can continue to take advantage of these new partnerships. We are very excited about this young couple, their potential and all they can bring to the country of Liberia to help transform it through education.
On Thursday morning, February 11, 2016, we travelled with our visitors to central and northern Liberia.. This area was the seat of the recent Ebola crisis in the country, where on top of their struggle to recover from the war, the people have suffered the horrors of this terrible disease. The trip would take us to see a new school building site, two other school work sites in progress as well as to the completed Triple A. School in Gbarnga City, Bong, County.
Our first stop was the town of Cotton Tree located in Bong County along the way to Gbarnga City where we met Mrs. Jartu London. She had donated her family land for the building of a school for her community before the Ebola outbreak. The cleared land has sat with no progress, stopped by Ebola. Our friend Debra Lindholm who is the head of Foundation for Women, a non-profit organization introduced us to this property and we were happy to stop and meet with Ms. London to discuss reinitiating the building project. A small amount of money has been donated and we are anxious to get this educational work started in this very needy area. It is exciting to see the dedication and desire of these small town people to leave a lasting legacy in their community. Their cooperation and generosity is vital to the success of our work in Liberia.
Next, we stopped in the village of Galai, Bong County. After a little excitement with our vehicle and the loss of our brakes going down hill with no control, we made it to the building site, where we were thrilled to find a group of women, diligently working since early morning, carrying buckets of cement on their heads, helping to build a future for the children in their community. Several of the women in this group were brought by Change Agent Network from the AAA Academy School in Gbarnga City. These women help to motivate and encourage the women of the local village, ensuring them that we are here for the long-haul, and that a beautiful completed campus is not out of their reach if they are all willing to volunteer their time. The women from AAA School were part of the “yellow machine”, a group of women that moved heaven and earth to get their school built. They befriend and build trust with the new building crews, consisting largely of women. Encouraging them in a way that we never could. We thank God for this model where one community encourages and impacts others. After finalizing some legal documentation concerning the land, the work should be completed in time for the new school semester starting in September 2016. The team enjoyed playing a small role that day, helping to mix cement and carry a few buckets of cement (but not on their heads). What an appreciation this gives us for this back breaking work these women commit to, day in and day out, in the Liberian heat.
After speaking to the village leaders, we said our good byes and headed to the Alexandria A. Andrews Academy School guest house in Gbarnga where Ms. Monica, Ruth and the team there had a hot meal waiting. The impact on the school is showing as the area, on the edge of what was once known as the “evil forest”, Triple-A is now dotted with small houses as the community builds up around the school. We made a short stop here and rose on Friday, February 12, the team of nine left the Triple A School in Bong County to make the 4 hour journey to the Change Agent Network’s University (CAN-U) and the the CAN-Academy School project site in Lofa County. We took two vehicles on the trip and both encountered separate problems. They just dealt with the problems and said, “ T-T-I-L” meaning “This too is Liberia.” A projected 4 hours trip turned in to approximately six hours getting us to our final destination at about eight o’clock pm. The house in Zorzor was much different from the guest houses at Heart of Grace School and Triple A School. There was no electricity, running water, and very few beds to sleep on. Jesse and Jessica rated this house with three stars assuring everyone that this was much better than some places they have stayed as young American couple working in Liberia. So the team caught a little bit of sleep on Friday night to prepare for the days to come.
We began our first day by going to see the school buildings. Eric was extremely impressed with the progress. A meeting was held with the people on the ground to encourage them and to hear any of their questions or concerns. Immediately following the meeting, the team walked to the nearest town, Fisibu, to be a part of a very important political gathering to discuss how improvements can be made to the town and how the town could empower the lives of its own people. County Director of CAN, Mr. David Sumo, had the opportunity to speak in front of all of the community including two very important national political figures. Eric also had the chance to share the vision of Change Agent Network with over 400 citizens.
Sunday morning Eric got a surprise invitation to speak about CAN on a radio station that now reaches three countries: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. We attended the New Breed Church which was planted by the CAN-LIB Country Director, George Thomas, and meets weekly in one of the lecture halls of the school until they can build a proper building. Over one hundred members now attend the church every week just from a group of workers deciding that they want to meet together instead of just work on the school during the day.
The trip to Fissibu, Lofa County took Eric Wowoh back to the place of his roots. His mother travelled with us as she is building a house in her community, away from the city of Monrovia. We visited the work in progress there. 842 Computer School and Change Agent Network Academy Kindergarten through 12 grade School and the Change Agent University all located on the school property. The 842 Computer School has already graduated 140 students last year 2015 and now they 150 students currently signed up for the new term training cycle. The work on the grade school continues. We attended a community meeting where we once again expressed our commitment to the project and thanked the local community for their support. Without their help, these projects could never be completed. We had a lot of challenges on the road to Lofa County with our two vehicles stopping several times on the way due to mechanical issues. One of our vehicles was wrecked by a big old tree that fell on the side of the main highway. This tree damaged the doors on the right hand side of the vehicle thereby preventing the doors from opening. We had to take the car across the border to the neighboring country of Guinea to have it repair temporarily.
While in Fissibu Town, Lofa County, we also met with the building team and inspected the work still in progress. We are excited with the progress and the scale of the work and look forward to impacting this community through their very own Change Agent Network School.
Thanks as usual for your continual support of prayers, moral and financial assistance to this worthy cause as we all work together to break the cycle of poverty through education in Liberia. Please stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead. God bless!
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