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!


Ok, so I'm a little behind on the pictures... I apologize. Last Friday, we visited Alfred and Agnes Memorial Orphan Mission (AAMOM), one of the orphanages with whom we've been working since the very beginning of LOEP. AAMOM is home to 71 orphans. The children who live there also go to school right there on the property. The AAMOM school is also open to neighborhood children. Two of the AAMOM teachers were in our LOEP training.

The video camera was a big hit, of course.

Everyone shares in the chores at AAMOM. It is a busy place all of the time, between cooking, cleaning, school, and their agricultural projects! This girl had laundry duty while we were there.

Pumping water from the well.

The nursery class meets outside of the boy's dormitory. They sang some songs for us (Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes).

Jerome is teaching a social studies lesson to his 5th graders.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life is grand at Lott Carey

The new sign at Lott Carey is complete, thanks to Mr. Sango!

We were invited to attend the Friday flag raising ceremony at Lott Carey yesterday. The students have chapel first thing every day except Friday, when they meet for flag raising. Capt. Gray's ROTC students lead the charge.

Some of the nursery students on their way to the flagpole.

The third graders had library day on Thursday. The children love the newly arranged library!

The kindergarten class was learning the bible story of the Good Samaritan. Their dramatic rendition (complete with donkey interpretation) was hysterical!

Karen enjoyed it as well.

I was invited to speak to the student body at Thursday chapel service.

We've posted lots of pictures of the adorable nursery class. These are some of the beautiful senior girls. What gorgeous smiles!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bustling City

The LOEP team has been working hard at school, but it's not all work and no play. we took full advantage of the weekend and headed into Monrovia for some shopping (lappas of course!) and sight seeing.

The streets of Monrovia are lined with booths. People sell all kinds of things! Of course, we are partial to the shops with colorful lappas!

There is a lot of road construction going on on Monrovia, as well as other parts of Montserrado County. Not only are they constructing new roads, but new sewer pipes are being installed as well. This is the intersection of Benson and Center Streets in Monrovia. It's definitely an exciting time of rebuilding for Liberia!

This lady has a head full of potato greens and was on her way across the Montserrado River into the city.

Several men were unloading boxes of paper off of this truck. The paper was being delivered to a "business center" (in the alley), complete with copy machine and typewriters.

Monday, February 15, 2010

LOEP Pilot Project - Phase II

Phase II of the LOEP Pilot Project has been a success so far. This past Friday was the last day of workshop training, and we will be in the classrooms with teachers and students this week. The training went quite well, and seemed to be a success. We will know exactly how much of a success it was once the teachers get back in their classrooms and share the techniques and strategies with their students.

The 2010 LOEP Team with Mrs. Allen (Jacob had to leave a few minutes early)

Our friends Amelia and Angel (both 6th graders at Lott Carey) were peeking through the window to see if training was over so we could come outside and play.

The Trainers of Teachers (TOTs) have gone through both LOEP trainings and will be leading professional development workshops for their colleagues at Lott Carey, Alfred and Agnes, and Children's Relief Mission Schools this year. They will work closely with Mrs. Allen to train their fellow teachers.

Jacob leads a group discussion.

The 2010 LOEP team - Emmalee, Karen, Jacob, and Beth

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More challenges

The Internet connection is one of our challenges this year and we wish we could post more pictures for everyone. We are trying to find more "down" times when the dial-up connection is not so slow in loading pics. Will keep trying!

The teacher workshop this year was four days jam-packed with new concepts and techniques that are new to our colleagues here in Liberia. It will take a couple of weeks for them to process all the information and realize how much they can do with the information they were introduced to in the course. The material was about one semester's worth of college level work condensed into a four-day workshop. They will be studying and working together on a professional development plan with the material throughout the next 11 months.

Today we will attend Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia for morning services. Providence is the oldest church in Liberia and the site of the signing of their Constitution. We noticed yesterday that the large United Methodist Church complex on the corner adjacent to Providence has been freshly painted, lots of repairs and looks great! There is an attached United Methodist University which has also been spruced up since last year.

The United Methodists in Liberia have a thriving program for the Deaf and we will be visiting their school next week. LOEP Team member Karen is Methodist and also a Speech Pathologist and former teacher of the Deaf so it will be a very exciting visit for all of us!

As the internet seems to be running smoothly, will try now to load some pics!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

There was no training on Thursday due to the national holiday. So we spent the day visiting and seeing some of the rural area around Monrovia. We made some new friends in Clay-Ashland. They were very excited about their new pencils and the cameras that we had.

Ms. Famatta Morris is the oldest living graduate of Lott Carey Mission School. She will be 95 years old in September. She has lived in the same house in Clay-Ashland all of her life. We had a lovely visit with Ms. Morris. She shared some potato greens with us, and many stories of her community and her many years of serving as the principal of the local kindergarten.

Ms. Morris' house sits on a beautiful piece of land right by the St. Paul River. It is so peaceful and beautiful. No wonder Ms. Morris loves it so much there!

The road to Clay-Ashland. Look at the red African dirt!