Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another busy day for LOEP

What a fantastic day! We had a wonderful day today in Monrovia and Paynesville. The day started off with a meeting with our dear friend Archel Bernard at her office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archel is doing a great job in her position with the Philanthropy Secretariat. Her office works with different NGOs and projects in Liberia - connecting funders with projects. From her office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we went down the road to the Hope for the Deaf School in Sinkor.

Hope for the Deaf is one of my absolute favorite places in Liberia. The school is housed on the Methodist Compound in Monrovia. There is a great video package on our website (www.loeproject.org) that our friend and video journalist Derick Snyder put together. The school includes grades Kindergarten through 9 with a vocational training program. The students are learning shoe making and tailoring. The tailoring component is new since our last visit. It was so wonderful to see the students again this year, working hard in their classes. They greeted us very warmly, signing excitedly. They were especially pleased that I could spell my name for them using ASL, and was eager to learn to spell (sign) each of their names.

After we left the Hope School, we continued down Tubman Boulevard to Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, to visit our friends at CRM. Children's Relief Ministry Orphanage was one of LOEP's first partners, one of our original partner schools. Things are progressing at CRM, the current project underway is a security wall around the property. The children and Matron greeted us very warmly and gave us a tour of the facility. We were particularly pleased to see the new tiled bathrooms at the orphanage, and renovated latrines. Some of the children we met during our first visit four years ago are still, and it is wonderful to see them as healthy teens and tweens now.

Our day continued as we visited the New Life School (previously called Christ Redeemer School). LOEP was introduced to the New Life School through on of our ToTs, Mr. Emmanuel Gbah. Mr. Gbah teaches adult literacy at the school, and is a member of the supporting church. Please read our previous blog entry dated April 6, 2011 for more information about this remarkable community school and the dedicated educators working there.

I would love to share more about each of these stops, but it has been an awfully long day, and I am pretty exhausted (mentallyy and physically). Will try to post pics tomorrow!


We seem to have a good (everything is relative) internet connection at the moment, so I'm going to try and post some pictures. Random pictures posted quickly before I head off to a meeting - just a sampling for you all to see some of the sights we have been enjoying!

Nursery students at AAMOM school are practicing their ABCs in the brand new school that opened this year.

The ToTs (Trainers of Teachers) worked very hard preparing for the first Teacher Training Network Conference. They did a fantastic job preparing and presenting. We are so proud!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

Today was graduation day at Lott Carey. Yes, in December. No, not students. It was the teachers who were graduating today, and the LOEP team was beyond thrilled to not only be present for the ceremony, but also be a part of this extremely joyous occasion.

The teachers graduating today received their "C" certificate in teaching from the Liberian Cooperative Standard Education School System (LICOSESS). The 28 graduates are teachers from schools in Brewerville, Royesville, and Sinkor; 14 of the graduates are teachers at Lott Carey Baptist Mission School. The LICOSESS certificate program is a strenuous 14-month program, where teachers (students in this case) attend classes every evening and all day Saturday. These hard-working individuals were attending classes and working on their own studies while maintaining full-time teaching jobs, sometimes extra jobs, taking care of their families, church, and other community obligations. The amount of dedication that the teachers have is beyond admirable - it is amazing!

We were so proud to see all of these dedicated educators graduate, most especially our friends from Lott Carey. Teachers we have had the pleasure of working with in LOEP training workshops for the past three years as we have seen them progress.

The formal ceremony was very touching - made even better by the fact that the students at Lott Carey were present to see their very own teachers graduate! (I think the highlight for them may have been seeing their teachers process in cap and gown, judging by the giggles and cheers.) The Master of Ceremonies was Mrs. Rosa Allen, VP of Instruction at Lott Carey School. The Commencement Address was given by our very own Beth Iden. (If I wasn't bursting with pride for the graduates, I sure was bursting with pride for my own Ma Beth!) The address, themed to "build a community of learners", was extremely well-received by both graduates and students. While Mom addressed the graduates, I had the pleasure of handing each of them their certificates as they crossed the stage. What a thrill to see their proud and smiling faces at that special milestone!

Following the ceremony, the graduates, guests, administration and students filed outside of the chapel for pictures and pinning of candy. (Pinning candy and other treats such as flowers is a way of recognizing special people on special days such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation day.)

A special day in a beautiful country, and what an honor to be a part of it!

The internet connection is too slow for pictures tonight, but I will try to upload some pictures of the graduates and ceremony tomorrow for all to enjoy!