Monday, October 17, 2011

They Need a Bigger Boat!

From the beginning of our teacher training efforts, it was always the main goal of LOEP to assist our colleagues in developing their own professional development program.  We believe in the old adage, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime". We all recognized the value of helping to build a program that Liberian teachers could sustain on their own, conducting their own workshops, their own trainings and sharing their new methods and techniques with other teachers in Liberia.  Recent reports from Liberia show how far we have all come to reaching that goal.
Mr. Gbah's Report:
Emmanuel Gbah is a full-time teacher at CRM orphan school where he teachers fifth grade.  He is the married father of three girls who attend school (in a nation where less than half of all girls attend school), he is a deacon in his church, a full-time student at the University of Liberia and three nights a week he teachers adult literacy in a little school operated by his church.  He also mentors untrained, unpaid teachers in that same school, helping them develop classroom skills and techniques he has learned in the LOEP workshops.  Recently Mr. Gbah made the arduous journey to his rural home village for a rare visit with his family.  Such visits are far and few between for Liberians and it had been years since Mr. Gbah had seen his "little brothers".  The visit was a joyous occasion and a time for him to share with his family details of his life in the city of Monrovia.  He happily reports, "God could have it for me I was able to travel with some of my teaching materials" from LOEP workshops in the LOEP "teacher bag".  When he arrived in the village word of his visit and his life as a teacher in Monrovia spread.  He was asked to conduct a teacher training for teachers in the village school.  As he recounts, " this was a huge challenge for me ... because I was alone without consultant,but I accepted the challenge," and his detailed report on the workshop content is a most touching account of his experience. Despite his reservations and initial lack of confidence, he conducted a successful training and highlighted the most important concepts of, a) inclusiveness, b)effective teaching methods to replace harsh beatings and discipline, and c) helping children understand and process the information they are taught.  He wrote, “I firmly believe that the act of conducting the workshop was buttressing the dream of LOEP….by the help of God I was able to conduct the workshop ... and it was appreciated by the school administration.  I ... extend my thanks and appreciation to the LOEP team for their level of cooperation and for the knowledge that they continue to impact onto us teachers of Liberia".
Mr. Gbah's reference to the LOEP "team" includes all of those friends here in the US who support LOEP's teacher training and shipments of instructional materials, books and school supplies.  Mr. Gbah and his colleagues who have taken LOEP workshops know that there are hundreds of people here in the US they have never met who make the LOEP workshops possible. 

One by one our Liberian colleagues are "learning to fish" - they are going to need a bigger boat.  Please continue supporting LOEP teachers reaching their goals!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting and Praying

Yesterday was a good day for democracy as Liberians went to the polls to vote for only the second time since the long war years. It was a peaceful day and, by all accounts, people waited patiently (as these ladies did) in long lines to cast their vote.

Although current President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's star status in the international community was confirmed with award of a Nobel Peace Prize last week, it is not clear that she is popular enough at home to receive 50% of the popular vote to avoid a run-off. Presidential candidates must receive 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off in November following the October election.

Since the war ended in Liberia, women have emerged as a powerful influence in political life. While many accept the new dynamic as part of Liberia's healthy growth into a successful, democratic nation, there is still resistance to the modern roles.

We are praying and hoping for a successful transition. Whether it is a second administration for President Ellen or, as is always possible in a Democracy, a new administration with new leadership - Liberia has come too far to turn back now!

For more election news and pictures go here: http://unmil.org/

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Festival of Leaves

LOEP is selling crafts today at the Festival of Leaves.  All proceeds will go to send school supplies to our partner schools.  If you are in the area visit us at our booth on Chester Street.

Thanks to the Northern Virginia Daily for a very nice article on LOEP and our teacher training efforts.  I wish that LOEP Teacher Trainers, Emmalee Iden, Phylis Benner, Karen Darner and Rachel Price could have been here to talk about training.  They are the teachers of the LOEP Teacher Training Team.   Their depth of experience and commitment to LOEP is such a blessing to our Liberian partners!

Peace Prize!

Congratulations to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee! The people of Liberia are extraordinary and these women give them  every reason to be proud.  A Peace Prize was certainly the last thing anyone expected for citizens of Liberia just a few short years ago when war waged and  women were second class citizens.  How far the nation has come and now the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two women is proof of how far they can go on the strength of commitment to peace and depth of faith.  Congratulations to our friends, colleagues and partners in Liberia!  We stand with you as you approach election day and make even more remarkable progress as a nation.