Happy day after Independence Day! We have so much to be thankful for, and one of the things I am thankful for is you and your prayers for Liberia.
In this penultimate email, I hope to give you a glimpse into Beautiful Beginnings School. Ollie had invited me to spend the day observing in classrooms, providing feedback, and listening to teachers. She picked me up in the morning and we made the hour-long drive out to Harbel. The gas situation is challenging. There is no gas available at gas stations where the price per gallon is $5US and regulated by the government. Instead, the gas is sold to gas boys who are then able to sell to motorists at an inflated $10US. The health hazards to these children carrying open buckets and jars of gasoline is apparent and appalling (Ollie is smiling in this picture to put the gas boy at ease about having his picture taken).
The stories at Beautiful Beginnings filled my heart with hope and joy and my eyes with tears. I observed a dynamite math lesson in fourth grade, with a finale that left students calculating as they headed out to lunch.
A 4 year old class with 43, yes, 43 children. And they were all listening and engaged as the teacher instructed them in the parts of a plant and what a plant needs to grow. Then they went outside and planted a garden.
One of the only classrooms with painted walls.
And children. Beautiful children. Faces filled with joy and wonderment and awe.
This is the joy and the hope. And there are challenges.
No running water, so no hand washing. Only sanitizer. Flushing the toilet involves a barrel of water and a scoop to pour the water into the toilet. For teachers and guests as well as students.
Children balancing on broken chairs without complaint as they work on lessons.
A director who takes out a personal loan when the money is not there to pay the teachers.
Parents who value education so much, their entire paycheck goes to the tuition to have their children in the school.
At this round table with teachers I heard how they spend their salary of $125 a month. One young man of 25 or so is the single father of his young son. Also of his deceased brother’s two young sons. And the sole support of his mother. And I heard why they teach.
They teach because they are dedicated and inspired teachers who name teaching a calling. And they will change the future of Liberia through their commitment to students. Over 55% of the population is under the age of 16. Children truly are the future, and how we raise and teach them makes a difference.
Please continue to pray for Liberia and for Liberian teachers. Some of them hold multiple jobs in addition to teaching to try and provide at least one meal a day for the people in their care.
Writing in her diary, Anne Frank reflected:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”