Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace on Earth

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Encouragement and Inspiration

The 2011 LOEP Training Team will land in Liberia in less than four weeks.  Amidst the Christmas preparation, we are also getting ready for the trip and there is much to pack!  So many caring people have come forward throughout the year with thoughtful ways to help orphans in Liberia experience compassion and love.

Last Spring LOEP contacted Jade Sims of Craft Hope.  Jade's online group of crafters responded with enthusiasm to our call for instructional bean bags for Liberian classrooms.  Children and adults from more than seven nations joined Craft Hope's crafting effort! By mid-May LOEP had received hundreds of sets of bean bags from four continents for Liberian teachers to use in their classrooms.  Check out the website for pictures of crafters and their wonderful hand-crafted contributions to LOEP   http://crafthope.com/category/project-7/  It was a wonderful experience for LOEP to connect with so many around the world and raise awareness of needs of Liberia's children.

As we recovered from Bean Bag Spring, a new friend introduced herself.  Christine Dallimore of Sending Smiles got in touch with us in Summer about teacher training and, specifically, LOEP efforts to assist Hope School for the Deaf in Liberia. Christine is a blogger whose army of compassionate Moms reach out in a neighborly way to help children and families.  These moms consider the whole world their "neighborhood" and anyone in need their "neighbors". Liberian kids are well within their range so they got to work!  Drawing from considerable collective experience, they sent instructional aids for teachers at Hope School including books on sign language and lots of sets of fantastic sign language flash cards!  Supplies and hand crafted tote bags for teacher training kits were also in the Sending Smiles packages that got to LOEP just in time for the October shipment.  Those great training aids will be in Liberia for us to use with the teachers when we get there next month!  Check out Christine's website for some compassion in action inspiration.

By early Fall we had sorted and packed boxes of teacher training materials and school supplies for the October shipment to Liberia.  Then we heard from Leah Lunsford in Missouri.  Leah (also a crafter) shares a particular interest in Liberia with her close friend.  The two also share close September Birth dates and had decided to have a joint party that would feature a project to assist LOEP!  Of course, we jumped on that great idea and gratefully accepted their offer of hand crafted pillow case dresses.  The adorable little dresses are packed in our personal luggage to hand-deliver in January.  We hope to have a fashion show with pictures on the LOEP blog!  Leah continues hosting parties to craft items and raise awareness of need in West Africa, specifically Liberia, where life for orphans is so difficult.  Party Crafting for Liberia - could be a new trend.  Thanks to Leah and her crafty partying ladies!

Of course, none of these wonderful items would ever get to Liberia without LOEP donors.  Depsite economic hard times, individual LOEP donors remain steadfast with their financial contributions to put teaching supplies directly into the hands of teachers.  Teaching is a challenging profession in the best of circumstances.  In Liberia where pay checks are sporadic, classrooms are bare and books are hard to come by, teaching challenges become obstacles.  LOEP contributors help teachers overcome those obstacles by putting instructional materials and books right into Liberian classrooms.  LOEP shipments of instructional support encourage teachers and they are inspired by gifts that show confidence in them and their work. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spirit of Giving - Jack and Emily

There is no Christmas tree here but this party really exemplifies the Spirit of the season. Even though this event took place last month, the story is a wonderful example of the Spirit of Giving and the wonder of childhood we all feel this time of year. 

Seven-year-old Emily (pictured above), and her twin brother Jack (pictured below) celebrated their birthdays last month each with their own party.   Jack and Emily know about LOEP and they have expressed some particular interest in the "orphan" aspect of LOEP work with questions about the orphans, their school, where they live, etc.  Their interest turned to concern when they learned of children who may not know their parents or their own birth date, and who have so little that the gift of a box of crayons or a new pencil is a memorable childhood event.

The twins decided their Birthday was the perfect opportunity to act on their concerns and make a difference in the lives of others.  Jack and Emily asked each of the birthday guests not to bring Birthday gifts for them but to instead bring school supplies to send to children in Liberia.  The six year old Birthday kids made this unselfish and thoughtful decision themselves because they decided they had "enough stuff already and did not need more"!  From all reports Jack and Emily had a great time planning their birthday parties and at one point Jack was asked if he was excited about the coming event. He replied, "yes, but I am really excited to see what everybody brings for the orphans!"
The Birthday parties were a great success and both Jack and Emily were excited about the gift "haul" of school supplies. LOEP was excited too and the supplies are packed in our luggage for the January training trip.  Along with the crayons and pencils we will give special greetings from Jack and Emily to their new friends in Liberia. 
Thank you, Jack and Emily for your great Birthday Idea! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another great report by Brenda

LOEP Board member, Brenda Bush, has filed another excellent report on CNN. This time she highlights the plight of children who cannot go to school because they have to work and one of the solutions to the problem posed by President Johnson-Sirleaf.

To see her report click the title of this post or:


Sunday, September 26, 2010


As the LOEP Training Team shifts into high gear here in the U.S., our friends and colleagues in Liberia are putting some new techniques into practice and preparing for new challenges, according to Rev. Sam-Peal.

Just this week we received a call from Rev. Sam-Peal. He wanted to tell us that the Pre-Kindergarten teacher is looking forward to receiving the bean bags and to receivng more training to work with children with special needs. He told me there is an Albino child who has enrolled in the Pre-K class this year and he has vision problems and some other issues related to learning. Rev. Sam-Peal said, "we are committed to being an 'inclusive' school and for children like him the bean bags will be a good learning and teaching tool. Because of his vision problems he needs more kinesthetic and auditory instruction. We will really be able to use them! We also want to be sure Karen is coming with the team to help us work with some special students".

This seemingly simple conversation is amazing on so many levels:

1. "inclusive" school is a new concept in Africa and, until the past year or two, it was virtually unheard of in Liberia. LOEP training introduced the concept of inclusiveness and 'learning differently" to the teachers at Lott Carey and last year the team introduced the idea of teaching children with special needs. Lott Carey Teachers have obviously not only grasped the concept but fully embraced it!

2. People with any kind of disability have a very difficult life in Africa. Because of ancient superstitions, Albinos suffer even more than others with intense discrimination against them and are even at risk for their lives in many cases. It is truly amazing to know that teachers and students at Lott Carey are not only committed to being an "inclusive" school but they are challenging ancient beliefs and overcoming their own deep-seated prejudices to be "committed" in finding ways to work with children who have special needs.

This is really a breakthrough and an incredible step for the teachers and students at Lott Carey. We are hoping that they will continue to experience God's love in a way that helps them shed the old ways that discriminate against the weakest and most vulnerable of His children. It is a privilege to walk into the light of compassion and kindness with them and see them remain committed to educating all children to be responsible citizens of a peaceful Liberia.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Liberia in the News

LOEP Board member, Brenda Bush works for CNN as a reporter and writer.  She was one of the lucky few on board the Delta Inaugural Flight direct from Atlanta to Monrovia.  President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and other Liberian dignitaries came from Liberia just to fly back on that special US-to-Liberia flight that took place two weeks ago.  It was especially significant for Brenda who is Liberian and has lived here in the U.S. most of her adult life, working hard and raising her family (she has five children), all the while keeping closely connected to her Liberian roots.

*Update:  Brenda sent a message to correct this post:  The Liberian dignitaries did not fly to the US to take the Inaugural flight back to Monrovia.  Madame President and the others were in Liberia to greet the Inaugural Delta flight and did so in fine fashion according to reports! 
Click on the link to see one of several special reports Brenda filed for CNN!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day of School in Liberia

This e-mail was just received from Rev. Sam-Peal in response to the previous blog entry - Emmalee's reflection on the First Day of School. Rev. Sam-Peal is the head of Lott Carey Mission School where LOEP conducts teacher training workshops.

Dear Emma,

Greetings to you and hope all is well.
I just read your blog about first day of school. Monday 8/30/10 was the first day of school here at Lott Carey, and the kids were excited, anxious, scared, (the nursery was a noisy place with much crying and tears from first-timers who cried when their parents dropped them off and left), and wet. Yes wet, the rains are heavy and on the first day it really POURED all day. The rain did not deter these excited and determined students, though some came to school drenched because they had no rain gear. Some came without school supplies, some showed up for school even though they had not paid a cent towards registration or tuition, they came in faith hoping that they will be allowed in class and that someway, somehow their fees will be paid for them to stay in school this year. Some had on new shoes, some had on old shoes, some were uniformed and others were not, very few had lunchboxes, yet, very eager and excited to learn. So our first week of school is off to a great start, teachers are excited, classrooms are freshly painted, decorated (Ms. Harvey had balloons to welcome her students), students are excited.

Just thought to share this with you when I read your blog about First Day of school.

Love and blessings,


Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for students in Fulton County, Georgia. I was reminded of this on my morning run today as I passed by children and parents waiting for the school bus on the corner. Little ones with their new lunch boxes and backpacks filled with crayons and notebooks, looking perhaps a little nervous and a lot excited. Bigger ones with their new shoes and haircuts, perhaps still a little nervous and maybe a little less excited?

I am reminded again how much I love school and how nervous I would get every year for The First Day of School. Nevermind the fact that, being from a small town, I already knew the teachers and all of my classmates were the same from the years before. It didn't matter how old I was or what grade I was in, I loved school and the first day was always exciting.

As I saw the school buses drive by and saw the kids arriving at the huge and modern high school in my neighborhood, I was thinking about my friends in Liberia and their excitement about school and learning. Those children may not have bright shiny shoes to wear to school for the first day... they may not have backpacks with crayons and pencils... they most likely do not have a lunchbox to carry their snacks... but some things are the same. I'm willing to bet that the young and not-so-young students in Liberia are feeling perhaps a little nervous and extremely excited on this first day of school. They are eager to learn!

I am reminded today of my friends in Liberia.

Friday, August 6, 2010

World Map for Mobile Classrooms

For all our crafting Friends of LOEP (you know who you are)...
This fabric panel is a great wall map for Liberian classrooms.  Well-marked, lightweight, foldable, easy to ship, and durable this cloth map of the World can easily be converted to a light-weight wall hanging that will not succumb to paper-dissolving humidity of West Africa.

This wonderful classroom visual teaching aid is available at Jo-Ann's Fabrics store for less than $5 per panel and with the current sale going on a 40% off coupon makes it an even better deal!
A crafted World Map wall hanging (or several of same) will fit perfectly in LOEP's Reading and Social Studies Mobile Classroom unit like the ones pictured here...
and here...
These units are made from recycled shipping crates, sanded and painted in kid-friendly colors then filled with classroom instructional materials for Liberian classes.  World Map wall hangings will be a great addition to the Mobile Classrooms!

More on what is needed to fill two Mobile Classrooms and where to get the items in the next posts... stay tuned

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School Supply Lists

These kids have dreams of learning to read and write - they are motivated, eager and want to go to school.  Their teachers struggle to teach under difficult conditions in bare classrooms.  Give them a thought when you join the excitement of Back to School! 

School Supply Lists
Click on the link to print out the supply list to carry along when you go Back To School shopping. All of the items listed are available at major retail chain stores and office supply stores.

Some states in the U.S. even offer tax-free days for school supply purchases!

LOEP accepts donations of school supplies, books and cash to help support education for children in Liberia.  Contact us for more information.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Useful Tools for Bookless Classrooms

Most Liberian schools do not have libraries or supplies of textbooks and students have little opportunity for using books either as classroom texts or reference. Lessons are taught by teachers using blackboard and chalk and a single textbook while students take careful notes in their notebooks. The notebook serves as textbook and students study and do homework from the handwritten notes. Internet access is out of the question in Liberian schools - no electricity available and no computers.

LOEP has been working to find ways to help our Liberian colleagues use effective teaching techniques without books and computers. Although there is no real substitute for books (even the Internet is no substitute for books!), we have found some items to supplement blackboard lessons fairly well, and they are easy/cheap to pack and ship.
Wall posters, maps, charts are all great visuals accessible to the whole class at once. Some are quick reference guides that pack loads of information on one big, easy to read surface. The picture above is the Teacher section of our small, local Dollar Tree Store.  We find loads of posters, wall charts, room borders and other visual refrence aids for posting on classroom walls right here. Also a great source of teacher materials such as stickers, certificates, award bookmarks, etc. Can't beat the price, either!
Plenty of wall space for posters here:
Reference guides like the ones found here: http://www.barcharts.com/ are a wonderful classroom tool when books are not available. Used as a desk reference for individual students to borrow in the classroom, as a reference for a small working group of students, and for the teacher to use as a reference for blackboard notes, these reference guides pack loads of information. Already laminated, they hold up well to heavy use and Liberian humidity and, important to our limited LOEP budget, they stack, pack and ship VERY well taking up little space relative to the amount of information they hold.  Some are fold-outs with up to as many as six pages - a mini-textbook!
Last year Target carried laminated reference guides (love that Dollar Bin!). If you see them this year remember bookless Liberian classrooms.  Stuff a USPS Flat Rate Mailing Envelope full and mail to LOEP for less than $5 postage!  We do the rest to get them into Liberian classrooms.
More to come on Back to School for Liberia

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School - Target

Ayone who has young kids is familiar with the section of Target just inside the entry where the Dollar stuff is arrayed in bins. This time of year the bins are stocked with really fantastic classroom instructional materials. The stuff pictured here all came from the Target dollar bins and exceeds any Liberian teacher's dream of classroom materials. Everything pictured here all together cost less than $30 total! Click to make the picture larger so you can see the items.
Pictured in rows top to bottom, beginning at top right: Classroom timer, signs-on-a-stick (these silent classroom directions would be PERFECT for Hope School for the Deaf), paperback book Sea Creatures (the $ bins are loaded with so many books that would be perfect for building a little Liberian classroom "library", 25-pk Award Book Marks(on top of the Sea Creature book), Bright Green Desktop Pocket Charts Stand.
Next Row top: 100-piece boxed puzzle (Space), wooden perpetual calendar (apple shapes for days of the week-CUTE!), flash cards (animals, space etc.), boxed bingo games (math and time), Foam Clock.
Next row top: binder pouch (.75 - great bargain for teachers), Teacher Grade Book, Teacher Plan Book, classroom card scheduler (red and white striped thing. the white stripes are actually cards that go into the red pockets).
Next row: Plastic pencil box (also a bargain at .75), Dictionary and Thesaurus (great bargains at $1 each - smaller pocket versions are available at the back of the store in the School Supply area for $1.99).
Items such as the classroom card scheduler and the Desktop Pocket Charts Stand could be particularly useful at Hope School for the Deaf where the deaf students need visual aids for directions, classroom activities, etc.

Back to School!

Parents, retired teachers, empty nesters, school age kids, grandparents, - everybody loves Back to School excitement, right? Back to School is the second biggest retail event of the year and major retail chain stores stock special items that are only available for the few weeks leading up to September school start dates. These items are particularly useful in Liberian classrooms. LOEP gratefully accepts donations of school supplies all year round - we are blessed with ample storage space - but this is our busy time gathering donations of school supplies and planning teacher training.

The annual October School Supply Shipment is very important to our work with Liberian students and teachers. Student supplies shipped in October arrive in time for Christmas and teacher instructional materials arrive in time for classroom use. October is also when we ship training supplies for the LOEP team to use in teacher workshops and training.
What they Need
There are many generous folks, church groups, Rotary Clubs, neighborhood groups, office workers, friends of LOEP, who help with this effort. The question "what do they need" always pops up. To help your contributions be as useful as possible and take advantage of the special items available now in stores, LOEP has put together a list. For your convenience, the list is divided into blog entries by store so you can see clearly what we need and where it is available.

Watch this blog for the next few days to see what the kids and their teachers need!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sister Act for Liberia

There are several of us who keep our hands busy "crafting for the cause" of Liberian children. We have figured out a way to combine our interest in arts and crafts with our commitment to supporting education for children in Liberia by making and selling our own handcrafted items. It is intriguing to observe how interests can become family "traits". Art work and aid work definitely runs in our family and, apparently, we are not the only ones.
Sisters who craft for Liberia:

Char Turner
Cause for Creation - See sidebar for link
Char and her husband became involved with helping Liberian children years ago before the end of the war in Liberia and have remained dedicated and committed to their work ever since. Char was a stamp artist at the time, just beginning to take time to develop her creative side after ending her busy career as a shepherd with her own beautiful, prize-winning flock of sheep. Drawing from her experiences as shepherd, horsewoman, farm wife and vet tech, she taught herself to carve lino cuts. Not surprisingly, her work centered around animals, farm scenes and nature. Since then, Char dived into the deep end of the creative process and began making her own paper infused with natural elements such as flower petals, hay and straw ,and leaves. Her original prints on handmade paper are exquisitely charming organic art.
Selling her beautiful art work online as Cause for Creation, Char has raised thousands of dollars for Liberian orphans and vulnerable children and has been a great support to LOEP.

Beth Iden
Pockets, Pouches and Bags
Some of us can never get too much of African wax print and batik fabrics. It isn't enough to cover head to toe in African style outfits every chance I get. I need bags, accessories, home decoration and screen savers too! Sewing is a fun hobby for me and the African fabrics make it even more fun so the more fun I have the more stuff gets made. When my friends and family had all the handmade items they could use in 3 lifetimes, I had to find another outlet so I could keep sewing. Now I make bags, accessories (eyeglass slips, cell phone pouches, etc.) and baby bibs with African fabric and all sale proceeds go to LOEP.
A huge bonus to my crafting is spending time with my sister, Char, at the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market where we sell our hand crafts. She is at the market every Saturday selling her bautiful art work and my crafted stuff and I join her there once a month. We have such a great time together talking to folks at the market about Liberia, the children and our work there.
The Lewis Sisters and Two Friends
Hopeful Cards
This sister act online business specializes in lovely handmade cards. The brains behind Hopeful Cards is Seneca Lewis and her sister who live in Pennsylvania, where their interest in Liberia is definitely a family "trait". Seneca's Dad has made several trips to Liberia as a short-term missionary and her Mom is a Reading Specialist who has been involved in work on behalf of Liberian orphans for years. Seneca and her sister, along with two of their friends, have started their own business with a web site, no less. These young ladies are such an inspiration as well as being very talented! Proceeds from the sale of their cards all go to help orphans and vulnerable children in Liberia.
Hopeful Cards
Giving joy to friends while giving hope to orphans

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Keeping Connected

For those of us who are really interested in Liberia and can only be there once or twice a year, blogs and web sites are a great touchstone. For years now, I have managed to keep up to date with goings on in Liberia by reading blogs. Organizations that work with orphans in Liberia, missionaries, NGOs, free lance journalists - a whole network of folks write about their lives and their work in Liberia. Their efforts to keep up with blogging really helps to keep some of us here in the U.S. connected with people and events between our LOEP training trips.
Some blogs are linked in the column to the right and from time to time we will update those links so you can also stay updated on Liberia happenings.

A recent exciting development is reported on the Orphan Relief and Rescue blog with great pictures of children in their new home.


Check it out!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You Craft Hope!

The LOEP Training Team sends our thanks and best wishes to the 100 caring, talented Craft Hope crafters - they sent more than 140 sets of Bean Bags for Liberian classrooms!
Thank you to Jade Sims, Craft Hope creator and Special Friend to LOEP!

Bean Bags ARE a Big Deal!

The Bean Bag project through Craft Hope has been a stunning success for LOEP. Exactly 100 wonderful crafters responded with beautifully hand made bean bag sets. Alphabet sets, number sets and shape sets will be packed up and sent in June along with other school and teachers supplies for LOEP partner schools in Liberia.

Most of us here in the U.S. are accustomed to school classrooms packed full of books, instructional tools, art and craft supplies, colorful bulletin boards and posters on the walls. Paper, pencils, crayons, and basic materials are always available and the supply of such items seems nearly endless - we take it for granted that there is always plenty of whatever is needed in the classroom.

Seeing pictures of Liberian schools was a bit of a shock for some who viewed the LOEP presentation last Sunday. After the presentation, one commenter said, "I can see why the bean bags are a big deal" for Liberian classrooms. The pictures of Liberia's bare, dim classrooms stood in stark contrast to the cheerful and colorful array of hand-crafted bean bags lined up in front of the room.

How the bean bags will be used in Liberian classrooms and what they bring to the teaching experience for teachers will be the subject of future blog posts. Now we have to begin packing to send them on their way by ship to West Africa. More pictures and posts to come!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Building a Community with Bean Bags

The LOEP 2010 Training Workshop theme was "Building a Community of Learners". The theme spoke directly to the critically important role of educators in re-building the Liberian nation community broken by 25 years of political strife and 14 years of war. The workshop focused on how to begin building a community of learners by starting with the inclusive classroom. Teachers discovered that developing a community of learners is important to any educational environment whether that setting is an individual classroom, a school, or a teacher education program Teachers discovered how establishing a positive classroom environment can increase student success and learned how expanding the positive environment to include teachers and students as an entire school community working and learning together can enhance the learning experience for all. Broadening the learning community's reach into the homes of students to include families brings the learning experience into the surrounding community at large - a sort of ripple effect beginning with the classroom nucleus.
Liberian society and culture once consisted of strong, close-knit communities - nation of villages and extended family networks. That all changed with devastating war and now it is time to rebuild communities and restore a sense of community - that is, shared goals and shared commitment. Educators are at the forefront of the re-building process and re-building community is key to restoring lasting stability and peace in Liberia.
As LOEP trainers worked last year to develop the training workshop for 2010 we never imagined that such a wonderful example of communituy-building and mutual support would come to us through the Craft Hope bean bag project. When LOEP submitted our request to the crafting community for help in providing classroom bean bag sets for Liberian teachers, the crafting community responded instantly and generously. Bean bag sets are coming daily from all over the world. The amazing response is a beautiful example of how a community can work together to accomplish a common goal - in this case, enhancing classroom learning for Liberian students.
Craft Hope has provided LOEP teachers with a living example of community.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

International Bean Bags!

The Craft Hope project already has every appearance of being highly successful. We here at LOEP are so excited about this wonderful opportunity and yesterday we received the first bean bag delivery - all the way from Australia! We have word of more coming from that continent and of some contributions from folks in Spain, Netherlands and even, possibly, Russia!

What an extraordinary Social Studies lesson for all of us!

These are the first Bean Bag arrivals!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meet the ToTs

Meet the TOTS!

This group is preparing to take over LOEP!
One of the main goals of the LOEP Training Team has always been to work ourselves out of a job. Yes, as much as we love to come to Liberia and hang out with our friends here, we have focused the training and planning on helping our colleagues become the trainers themselves. These eight (8) teachers (pictured here at the end of a long week of training) are the LOEP Trainers of Teachers (ToTs) who will be busy in the coming year working together using LOEP training kits to develop their own workshop sessions. Periodically throughout the year they will prepare and present to their colleagues an in-service program highlighting a concept and/or technique they have learned over the past two years in LOEP workshops. The sessions will help prepare them to train their colleagues and peers who teach orphans and vulnerable children in Liberia.

Mrs. Rosa Allen, Principal at Lott Carey Mission School, is the coordinator of the ToT group. She will be organizing regular meetings for ToTs to get together and share ideas and observations about training. Next year, the LOEP training team will be working closely with the ToTs developing workshop skills and techniques.
LOEP will continue to support the ToTs, sending training materials, providing new education resources and conducting refresher workshops.
"Train one, train many" is how one of our Liberian friends explained the LOEP concept of shared knowledge and shared vision.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bean Bags for Liberia!

LOEP teachers will soon have a new tool in their classroom instruction toolkit thanks to Craft Hope! A wonderful network of crafters who are dedicated to making changes for the good in this world have volunteered to make bean bags for LOEP to send to classrooms in Liberia!

Check out this link

Thanks to Craft Hope and all the great crafters who have volunteered to bring a new dimension to classroom teaching and learning in Liberia!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Teacher Tools

The typical Liberian teacher's toolkit is basically limited to chalk and blackboard. Classroom supplies and instructional materials are in very short supply in Liberia. Teachers have very few posters, books, maps or art materials and no instructional games or AV equipment to enhance their their teaching. Teachers struggle to engage children in learning, mainly through lecture and blackboard notes.

LOEP teacher training introduces some teaching tools but we are always mindful that materials are not readily available in Liberia - either too expensive or simply not available at all. Over the years we have worked with LOEP teachers in discovering ways to use basic supplies that we can provide for them. For example, LOEP teachers now make their own flash cards using index cards and/or construction paper and markers. Here in the U.S. most of us grew up with flash cards (purchased, pre-printed ones)as an instructional tool in the classroom. Now that familiar tool is becoming a regular teaching aid in classrooms where LOEP teachers work. Thanks to the generosity of LOEP supporters who shop back-to-school sales, LOEP includes large quantities of index cards and markers in all school supply shipments to teachers in Liberia. When those simple materials are inexpensively and readily available in Liberia, teachers will know exactly how to make best use and can go beyond chalk and blackboard.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What We Do

LOEP is fortunate to have a solid group of strong supporters who partner in our efforts to provide hope for the future to orphans in Liberia. Thanks to wonderful support of caring, compassionate and committed folks, LOEP has come a long way from our beginnings. In the last days of the 14-year war in Liberia, our work was mainly focused on shipping donated school supplies (and rice) to orphans at two orphanages as the nation struggled to recover from chaos and devastation. As the political situation in Liberia has stabilized, LOEP has continued the focus on educational support, finding new opportunities to work with and serve orphans and vulnerable children there.

The LOEP scope of work has broadened so much that it has been suggested this space be used highlight some of the newer projects and continuing efforts to support educational opportunity for children in Liberia.

School Supplies

LOEP continues to send two to three shipments a year to two orphan schools and Lott Carey Mission School. The shipments include basic school supplies for hundreds of students who do not have pencils, paper or crayons. LOEP school supplies are donated by friends here in the U.S. who take full advantage of the late summer back to school sales. The supplies are collected, packed and delivered to the shipping agent in Hyattsville, MD by LOEP volunteers. In Liberia, the supplies are distributed to students in two orphan schools - CRM and AAMOM. Supplies are also sent to Lott Carey Mission School and provided to the orphans and vulnerable children who can attend that excellent academic school only because of scholarships and individual sponsors.

LOEP also sends instructional materials and classroom supplies for teachers in orphan schools and at Lott Carey Mission School. Posters, flash cards, special instructional materials such as classroom microscopes, telescopes and teacher supplies are provided for teachers who take part in the annual LOEP teacher training. The shipment last Fall also included audio visual equipment and instructional videos for the school libraries. Although electrical power is provided by generator and fuel is expensive, the schools can ocassionally provide special instructional events using the donated audio visual equipment. Television is very limited in Liberia and non-existent in orphanages, of course. They don't have Discovery Channel but students can now learn about the big wide world and the wonders of nature with group viewings in their schools.

LOEP is much more than sending supply shipments. Check back to read more about how we support teacher education and training and develop innovative new training techniques and tools for the unique needs of teachers in Liberia.

Next: LOEP Teacher Support

Friday, March 5, 2010

Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Click on the title of this post to read about Mina.

This achingly sad incident is not so unusual - the UN uses the term "orphans and vulnerable children" which aptly describes every single child in Liberia - no medical care, no legal protection and exposure to the absolute worst that mankind and the world can dish out.

Andrew, author of the linked post and director of Orphan Relief and Rescue, met with the LOEP team last month in Liberia. His group is doing great work there and we agreed that we are eager to explore opportunities for working together on teacher training.

Knowing about Mina and all her vulnerable brothers and sisters in Liberia is haunting. LOEP efforts feel like too little, too late. Heartbreaking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Connections and Good Work

Those of us involved in LOEP often feel awe-struck at the great work being done by Liberians and our friends here in the U.S. who work with Liberians.

Last year we met little Tracy. Tracy is the very smart child who is expected to be admitted to Lott Carey as the school's first deaf student when she completes her pre-school studies. This delightful little girl was our introduction to the very difficult world of the deaf in Liberia and served as a catalyst for us to contact these great folks who work with the deaf in Liberia.

Tricia and her husband Aaron were in Liberia in 2008 and, like those of us on the LOEP team, became committed to working with highly motivated, determined, compassionate Liberians who are struggling against huge obstacles to make life better in their recovering nation. Tracy and Aaron work through the Methodist Church in Illinois.

Check out their fine work on behalf of persons with disabilities in Liberia:


Friday, February 26, 2010

Hope for the Deaf

Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences during this trip was our visit to the deaf school on Tuesday. We were all so moved, we stopped back in on Wednesday for another visit on our way to the airport. Hope for the Deaf was founded in 2001, and is housed on the Methodist compound in the Sinkor area of Monrovia. More information on the school to come in another posting, but I had to share a few of these precious pictures immediately. The kids wanted to hear from each of us. They loved the fact that Karen could sign directly to them! Mom and I had to lean on an interpreter.
They had prepared a little program for us, during which several students shared welcome and sentiments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From orphans to senators...

We visited Children's Relief Ministry orphanage and school on Monday. The children were out of class on recess when we arrived and greeted us very warmly.
They loved playing with the camera, or course.
Ms. King is a LOEP trained teacher. She teaches first grade at CRM.

The cooks in the kitchen were busy preparing the meal for the children.

After about an hour and a half, we decided we had disrupted the school day long enough and had to leave to make it to another appointment.

Our friend Bea is interning at the House of Representatives this year. The Liberian government is structured much like the USA. (I learned quite a bit observing Mr. Wesseh's fifth grade social studies class!)There are three governmental branches: Executive, Legistlative, and Judiciary. The Legislative Branch consists of the Senate (two senators from each county), and the House of Representatives (representation currently based on county population, although there is some movement afoot to change that). Bea works with the Honorable Rep. Fohr from Montserrado County. We toured the house and joint chambers with Bea and Rep. Fohr. It was quite an interesting day!
Rep. Fohr, Bea, and former member of the Virginia House of Delegates (USA), our own Karen Darner

We even had an opportunity to sit in on a joint senate committee hearing. Coincidentally, it was a committee hearing regarding the proposed Children's Rights Act. In addition to the senate committee present, there were also members of the house, members of various ministries (including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Sports and Youth), the Liberia Female Lawyers Association, and Liberia Democratic Institute.

From the Rookie (Karen Darner)

It’s been over a week since we finished the formal training with teachers. Last week Emmalee and Karen observed teachers in their classrooms with students, and talked with them about some possible strategies to use. It was quite a learning experience for them, and even more for us.

We saw:
Mr. Johnson, economics teacher of seniors, was probing his students with open-ended questions, and it was a great review.
Mr. Aachampong, a 9th grade geography teacher, kept digging until the students gave him a very sophisticated definition of latitude and longitude (including similarities and differences, and their purposes), after initially saying “That was something you said when you were 5 years old. Now you are bigger and you eat more, and you need to give us more.”
Mrs. Banks, the vice-principal and biology teacher, who labeled and preserved numerous oceanic specimens she and others collected late one night. They’re all set for the next lab.
Mrs. Robinson, our fantastic chef for dinner daily, who taught us all about the delectable mixture of spices and fresh food that gave us a true taste of Liberia. Voila! She is their role-model for teaching several courses for boys and girls in home economics.
Miss Cleo Allison, a 3rd grade teacher, who challenged her students with a variety of strategies to give them content area that elicited some higher level thinking skills. She also utilized resources she had made in a recent phonics workshop. Her enthusiasm and humor were infectious – with us and with her students. She needs to be seen by more of her peers!
Mr. Sango, the arts and crafts teacher who doubles as a P.E. teacher with the little ones, who had 25 kindergartners in the palm of his hand as he taught them how to decorate their room with slips of paper made into a chain.
Mrs. Harvey, the nursery teacher with a smile that goes a mile, who is patient and encouraging with 2-3 year olds, and sings, dances, and hugs when one accomplishes a new and formerly difficult task. You should see her coordinate actions of “Row, row, row your boat” with those little ones.
And Mr. Benson, the reflexive pronoun specialist with 5th/6th graders, who was artful when he used a rubber band to illustrate perfectly.
Keep in mind, in each of these teachers’ classrooms, there are at least 25 and maybe 72 students, and learning was taking place. We reminded them during the workshop of Teacher Astronaut Christa McAuliffe’s quote – “I touch the future. I teach.” They most certainly do.

Get ready, World! Liberia is working to lead Africa, with Lott Carey School out in front of the parade.

During the past almost three weeks, we have experienced a home away from home. The amazing staffs of Lott Carey Mission School, Zion Praise Academy (Christian Relief Ministry Orphanage), and Alfred and Agnes Memorial Orphanage Mission School (AAMOM) have participated in our teacher training workshop, and we have observed them with their children in their classrooms. Amazing grace! Inspired teaching! Adorable children with a yearn to learn, and gleaming smiles that make you want to stay! Thank you to all.

We are grateful to their curriculum supervisor Mrs. Rosa Allen. She has quite a responsibility to continue the training with our cadre of Trainers of Teachers, and professional development plan developed for raising the standard for teachers. We give our heartfelt thank you of a lifetime to our daily host and caretaker extraordinaire, Lott Carey’s superintendent Rev. Emile Sam-Peal. He is Liberia’s best kept secret, and LOEP is the beneficiary!

See you all at home soon. We loved it here!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saturday in the country

This past Saturday, we took a little break from teaching and had the pleasure of attending a Rotary picnic with Rev. Sam-Peal. The Monrovia Rotary Club annual picnic was held on a farm in Kingsville. Kingsville is only about 15 miles outside of Monrovia, but it seems like much further. The ride there was very interesting, we passed through Careysburg community (an early settlement), saw rubber trees, mud houses, and many roadside stands where people were selling wonderful fruits and vegetables.

This pile of wood is all ready to be made into charcoal. The pile will be covered with dirt, sand, and leaves, and will be set on fire. It will be attended while it burns for some time and the wood is converted to charcoal. A bag of charcoal purchased in Monrovia will run about $4USD. The same bag costs about half that in the country. A bag of charcoal might last about 7-10 days for a family.

This truck is loaded down with the finished product and is on the way into the city to sell at the market. Let's hope that #4 can keep his balance - that will be very tricky considering the potholes (craters really!) that are all over the road!

The new Findlay campus of the University of Liberia is extremely impressive. I can't believe the progress that has been made in one year. Last year when we passed this spot and heard about the plan it was just a cleared spot of land. The University of Liberia campus is currently in downtown Monrovia, in the capital hill area. When the Findlay campus is complete, it will become the main campus with residential facilities for undergraduates. The downtown campus will be graduate studies only.

We made some new friends on the farm where the picnic was held.


Liberian peppers are deadly. Beautiful, but deadly to my taste buds. I have gotten accustomed to adding ONE to my rice, but one is my limit!

I honestly think that Liberian pineapple might be the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. I wish there were a way I could carry some home... Cassava was sold at this stand as well. Cassava is a root vegetable, and a staple of Liberian cuisine. It is prepared in so many different ways: Cassava greens (the leafy part of the plan that grows above ground), boiled cassava, fried cassava (bong fries), roasted cassava, it's also pounded into fufu or dumboy... I'm sure there are other ways that I don't even know about!