Latest News from the Villages
First of all, my profound thanks to all of you who are concerned about the Ebola situation in our country and continue to remember us in your prayers. Some of you call or write to check how things are going and how we are doing in this crisis. I will make special mention of Catherine Gill-Jamieson, Elizabeth Thorne, David Turner, Lena Marner, Mary Smith, and Anders Marner. We appreciate your concern for humanity.
At this junction, permit me to provide some information on the Ebola issue in our country.
From all indications, it is safe to say that things are NOT getting better. Why do I say this? Well, first, there was no state of emergency. Then a state of emergency was announced. Second, there was no curfew. Now, one has been announced, and it is for the entire country, not just the capital city or a few cities. Third, two townships (one in Montserrado and one in Margibi) – West Point and Dolo Town – have been quarantined. Besides, not only are more and more people believed to be contracting the Ebola virus, but also more and more people are dying of the virus or suspected of dying of it. Fourth, the virus is spreading to more regions. For example, from the onset, the point of concentration was Lofa County. Now, we do not only talk about Lofa; we also talk about Montserrado, Bong, Bomi, Nimba, etc. Fifth, many individuals and institutions, including NGOs and members of the Liberian Legislature, are blaming/criticizing the government for doing little or nothing to prevent the spread of the virus or to help people who have contracted it. Surely, these are NOT signs that things are improving.
There was a clash between the residents of West Point and Liberian security forces yesterday (August 20). At least three people were seriously injured in the process. There are also reports that the prices of basic commodities increased in certain quarters, especially in West Point.
Another problem associated with the fight against the virus is the series of inconsistent and – sometimes illogical and irresponsible – pronouncements or information coming from the government or those connected with it. For instance, President Sirleaf announced a few weeks ago that all Ebola-related dead bodies should and would be cremated because, according to her, burying the bodies would contaminate our wells, waters, etc. But guess what? Dead bodies are being buried instead of being cremated. No one, not even the President, is talking about cremation anymore. The new argument is that the Ebola virus does not survive for long outside a living tissue --- that it dies when the body is buried. But if this is true, then why did the President say that burying the dead body would contaminate our wells, waters, etc?
Anyway, there is some good news. For example, some of those who contracted the virus and were given early treatment at Ebola Isolation Centers have recovered, and they have been sent home. Some of them have spoken on the radio and on television. This, to me, indicates that if seriousness and cautiousness are applied, the virus can be kicked out of our land quicker than expected. Besides, more and more people are observing the safety measures announced by the government and our health workers.
It’s also worth mentioning that all schools, including colleges and universities, are closed for now. The government has announced that it will inform school authorities when schools should reopen. As indicated above, the government has imposed a 9pm-to-6am curfew in the country. It also announced that all video clubs and entertainment centers should be closed at 6pm. Also, not all those who are employed are going to work. Most of them, including those working with international non-governmental organizations, have been told to stay at home, saying that only “essential staff” should go to work.
By the way, many people are experiencing some very tough times during this period. In other words, things are very hard these days for a lot of people.
That's all for now. More updates later --- that is, if I manage to get online.
Note: In the next few days we will post an update on the annex project fundraising thus far. We register our apology for our inability to have done so by now.
Paul Yeenie Harry
Director of Help Liberia Foundation Community School
As you may already be aware, the school, having operated at the kindergarten and primary levels since its establishment in 2005, has decided to start junior high (middle school) classes this year. In other words, it will add Grade Seven – the first class of the junior high division – this September.
However, to do this, the school needs to build a one-classroom annex to accommodate the newly created grade level. This annex has to be built before September 1, but the school does not have the money to do this. The total cost of the annex project is around US$ 1,500.
We are therefore sending out this S-O-S appeal to all of our friends, sponsors and partners out there to please help us raise this amount. The amount, when raised, will go towards the following:
Item ---------------------------------------- Amount (in US$)
15 bags of cement @ $10.00 ——————————- 150
1 small load of sand @ $75 ———————————– 75
3 bundles of zinc @ $135 ———————————– 405
20 round poles @ $1.10 ————————————– 22
20 pieces of 2-by-4-by-14 planks @ $3.25 ———– 65
15 pieces of 1-by-3-by-14 planks @ $3 —————- 45
15 pieces of 2-by-2-by-14 planks @ $1.65 ———– 25
25 packs of wire nails @ $0.50 ————————– 12.5
3 packs of zinc nails@ $13 ——————————— 39
30 pieces of mats @ $3 ————————————– 90
15 chairs @ $15 ———————————————— 225
Transportation ————————————————– 50
Workmanship ————————————————- 250
TOTAL REQUIRED ----——————————- 1453.50
Please help us raise this amount before the 10th of August, as we wish to start and complete the construction before classes can begin on September 1.
You may send your donation using the school’s PayPal account that is controlled by Lena and Anders in Sweden. There is a link to this on the school's website.
PAUL YEENIE HARRY
LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE, BUCHANAN, LIBERIA
Visiting Help Liberia Foundation Community School in Buchanan Fills My Heart with Joy by Lena MarnerFri, 2014/07/18 - 12:00 —
After the welcome songs and other activities, some parents, including Madam Doris Hills and Madam Mary Tugbeh, also gave speeches. Doris is the mother of student Rita, a girl we are sponsoring in the school, while Mary is the grandmother of Augustine, a little boy we are also sponsoring in the school. What a moment of joy and happiness!
Along with us was a group of Swedish people whom we had brought with us to visit the school during the trip. Some of them had lived in Liberia long time ago and others were visiting Liberia for the first time ever.
At the end of the engagement with the children, the group accompanying us had the opportunity of sitting in a classroom to learn the spelling and pronunciations of their new Bassa names. This was a very special gift from the school to us Swedes, for giving something that means something is highly appreciated, and it is the most valuable of all gifts. I certainly know they were very happy about the visit to the school.
One of the most positive things with the school is seeing so many familiar faces. It is great to know that parents are involved in the school. Education and knowledge is one of the key things for a good life; another key thing for a good life is health.
It is amazing to see that even the small children understand the importance of education. I observed on their part a huge willingness to learn, and this is a very, very good sign. There is a need for them to be encouraged and helped in whatever way possible.
And I understand the parents struggle to keep their children in school. It is not easy in a country that is in the process of rebuilding itself after years of civil wars when so much was destroyed.
Meeting the children, staff and parents at HLF School fills my heart with joy, and I am confident that these smart and kind children, who are the future of Liberia, will contribute to sustainable growth in Liberia, one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
We look forward to meeting them next time. Until then, we say to them, “Study hard; have fun and take care.”
We could never have had a warmer welcome. It was difficult not to let our eyes get full of tears. The school had prepared for our visit and everything was very well-organized.
Unfortunately, Roland and I were not so well-prepared for our speeches, but we spoke from our hearts directly to the children, and we hope they appreciated what we said.
We talked about all the years we had been waiting and longing to go back to Liberia. We told the children that we had lived in Yekepa when we were kids and about how we loved that time. We also tried to encourage the children about the importance of education.
We were given Bassa names. Roland got the name Teedo – “one day”, and I, Kerstin, got the name Dekontee – “everything has time”. Wonderful names.
After all the speeches, we had the joy of playing and dancing with the children to a Swedish song. Then it was time for all the gifts to be distributed. Once again, Roland and I were not properly prepared.
When we left Sweden, we had the intention to give most of our gifts to some school in Yekepa; therefore, we did not have so much to give that day. But when we saw the importance of the school (HLF School), the work they do and the needs the children have, we decided to give all we had to HLF School and the children. Our things – school equipment, toys, etc. – were distributed later on and we know that everything came to the right place.
We had a fantastic day, full of emotions. We will continue to follow the work and progress of the school and try to help the best we can.
Note from Paul Harry, school director:
Kerstin and Roland are two of the Swedish guests who visited our school in April this year. They came with Lena and Anders. They are the ones who gave the special gifts that we wrote about here.
We extend our profound thanks to Roland and Kerstin for taking the time to write about their experience with the kids and the staff at the school. We encourage others who have visited our school to write something for publication on our site.
The program brought together parents, staff, well-wishers and students, including the graduates. Seventeen students graduated from the kindergarten division, while only one person graduated from the elementary division.
The program was held at in the edifice of the New Life Jubilee Christian Fellowship Center, which is about one hundred yards from the school. Although there was a heavy down pour, parents, staff and students still made it to the program.
The keynote speaker at the program was Mr. Samuel Nimely, former Principal of Help Liberia Foundation Community School and pastor of the New Life Jubilee Christian Fellowship Center. Mr. Nimely spoke on the topic: “The Importance of Quality Primary Education.”
At the end of his speech, Mr. Nimely gave two scholarships to two of our students – the student with the highest yearly average and the student with the second highest yearly average.
During the program, the Director of the school, Mr. Paul Yeenie Harry, announced to the audience that the school will begin operating its junior high level (middle school) this year, that is, when the new school year starts in September. This requires that we construct an annex to accommodate the new class. We need the support of everyone in this direction. More information will be provided later.
As stated above, the new academic year will start in September; meanwhile, the registration and admission processes leading to the re-opening of school in September will begin on Monday, July 14.
It is also worth mentioning that most of the sponsored students have written letters to their sponsors. We will send these letters, along with some photos, to their sponsors.
We extend our sincere thanks to all those who helped us to have a successful school year, especially our international partners. We are all partners in progress, and we greatly appreciate this interaction.
PAUL YEENIE HARRY
The celebration, which was held at the school, was aimed at reflecting on the establishment of the school in 2005 and its existence since that time, and giving the kids the opportunity and the time to have fun. We are grateful to God for sustaining the school all these years. We are also thankful to all of our sponsors and friends for their encouragement and assistance to the school. The school continues to exist because of their involvement. We cherish their support very much.
The celebration comprised many different activities – country cook, dance show, indoor program, sashing the King and the Queen and crowning the King, etc. We all – students, staff and visitors – had plenty of food.
The school invited as keynote speaker Ms. Russeling C. Y. Goffa who is the Director of Scholarship of the Nyonblee Care Foundation, a charity foundation run by Senator Nyonblee Karngar of Grand Bassa County. However, because she had another engagement, she sent one Mr. Du-ben Cleon to deliver her message, which was on the topic: “Believe in yourselves.”
During the indoor program, the King and the Queen sat in front of the rest of the students. After the keynote speaker’s message, Ms. Elfreda Toquee, a special guest, sashed the King and the Queen, and Mr. Du-ben Cleon crowned the King. The title of the King is Mr. Help Liberia Foundation 2014/2015, while the Queen is Miss Help Liberia Foundation 2014/2015.
The Program Committee had originally planned to hire a marching band to play for the students as they parade with the Queen and the King in the streets of the city, but it would be expensive to do (They asked for US$75), so it was not hired. It is our plan to hire a marching band next celebration.
The current King and the current Queen will be in power from now to March or April next year (2015) at which time a new queen-king contest will be held.
We extend our sincere appreciation to all – students, staff, parents, sponsors, special guests, community residents, etc. – for their participation in the process that made us have a very wonderful Ninth Anniversary Celebration. Thanks to all.
PAUL YEENIE HARRY
LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE, BUCHANAN
A special committee headed by Stanley Nelson (one of the teachers) was appointed to organize the contest. They are also responsible to plan the activities of the school’s Ninth Anniversary Celebration, which will be held this Friday, May 30.
The contest, which was held on Friday, May16, 2014, brought together nine queens and kings, as each grade level in the school (kindergarten to grade six) presented a queen or king for the contest. In other words, each class was represented by either a queen or king, chosen based on discussion between the class and the parents of the selected child.
Prior to the contest on Friday, each class sponsor encouraged their students to pay some amount that would be used to support their queen or king during the program. This was in addition to what parents and others would bring to support a specific queen or king. There were seven queens and two kings.
Loud speakers (public address system) were rented and brought to the school, blasting the community with great music, which sent parents and students dancing and jubilating as if a concert of music was taking place at the school and all the great musicians of the world had converged on the campus.
The winning king is student Edward Williams of the K-3 class, while the winning queen is Jestina Daimah of the Grade Two class. The winners were determined based on the amount generated by the contestants.
All in all, LD7,715.00 (seven thousand seven hundred fifteen Liberian dollars), that is just over US$90.00, was raised.
The winners will be crowned during the Ninth Anniversary Celebration of the school, which will be held on Friday
Watch out for more stories and photos from the Ninth Anniversary Celebration.
PAUL YEENIE HARRY
LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE, BUCHANAN
On behalf of the school, we wish to thank Catherine, Elizabeth and Mary for taking the time to post some questions that are relevant to understanding more about Help Liberia Foundation Community School and beneficial to the operations and sustainability of the school.
In view of this, we are pleased to respond. It is our hope that the information given will not only provide answers but will also provide some clarifications. There are twelve (12) questions in all, and we have tried to be as relatively detailed as possible, without boring you our readers.
Question 1: How many staff does the school have at the moment?
Answer: All together, there are fifteen (15) administrative, faculty and support staff.
1. Paul Yeenie Harry (male) – Director
2. Varney Gibson (male)– Principal
3. Jarvis Krangar (male) – Vice Principal for Instructions
4. Joseph Goffa (male) – Vice Principal for Student Affairs
5. Annie Dayugar (female) – Registrar
6. Andrew Garsuah (male) – teacher
7. Calvin Mohammed (male) – teacher
8. Philemina Aggrey (female) – teacher
9. Stanley Nelson (male) – teacher
10. Elijah Johnson (male) – teacher
11. Nancy Aggrey (female) – teacher
12. Mary Tugbeh (female) – teacher
13. Logan Juludoe (male) – security
14. Victoria Juludoe (female) – janitress
15. Martha Roberts (female) – cook
Question 2: How many students does the school have now?
Answer: There are 126 students in the school at the moment.
Question 3: How many students need sponsors?
Answer: Of the one hundred plus students in the school, only fourteen (14) have sponsors.
This means more than one hundred kids need sponsors. This is why the school continues to encourage individuals and institutions of goodwill to choose a child to sponsor. For every child that is sponsored, it is not only the chosen child that is grateful for that humanitarian help, but also the school and the parents of that child.
Question 4: Do the children have enough study materials?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. We need many different materials for the kids.
Question 5: What are the kinds of materials most needed for now?
Answer: As mentioned in the answer to Question 4, we need many different materials.
For example, we need writing books, coloring books, reading books, kindergarten rhyme books, instructional or lesson-oriented posters, Ministry of Education prescribed textbooks, simple story books and many others for the kids.
We would be grateful to any individuals or institutions that helped us to get any of these relevant study materials.
Question 6: Do the kids eat at school?
Answer: Yes, the kids do eat at school.
The school does receive food from WFP (World Food Program) periodically. Sometimes it comes regularly; at other times, it does not. They donate bulgur wheat, beans and oil. For the last few months, it has been regular. The food ration also helps the kids to come to school regularly.
Question 7: What kind of grading system does the school use?
Answer: The school uses a grading system that takes into consideration quizzes, periodic tests, attendance and class participation.
Question 8: Is there a national exam for primary school students, and do the kids at the school participate?
Answer: There used to be a national exam for primary school students, but it has been suspended. During the time it was administered, our students used to participate.
Question 9: Does the school have a well?
Answer: Actually, the school has more than a well. It has a very good hand pump that is located right in front of the school. It is regularly chlorinated, so it is safe for drinking. In fact, it is the hand pump used by the community in which the school is located. In short, there is no problem with water.
Question 10: What are the main challenges faced by the school, what are you doing to try to overcome them, and how can we (international supporters) help?
Answer: Our main challenges include the following:
1. The lack of a real and conducive learning-teaching environment for the kids and the staff.
Since its establishment in 2005, Help Liberia Foundation Community School has been operating in an unfinished residential house. In fact, to create space for the classes we have, we separate some of the classrooms using blackboards or plaited bamboo mats. There are no good offices, no staff room, no reading room, etc. Besides, we are leasing the building. Our current lease will expire at the end of 2017.
To overcome this challenge, we bought one acre of land in 2011. Our plan is to construct a modern thirteen-classroom school building, which will also have a vocational/computer training room, a reading room, a staff room, etc.
We have already started planning programs and activities aimed at collecting some funds and materials. Senator Nyonblee Karngar of Grand Bassa County pledged twenty bags of cement last year. President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator Gbehnzohngar Smith, pledged fifty (50) bags of cement the year before. The school is organizing a series of mini programs to raise some funds from parents, too.
Our international partners/supporters could help us in the process by coming up with additional ideas that will help us to realize this dream, by themselves donating funds or materials or by talking with other individuals and institutions of good will to help the school with its school construction project. In-kind donations are also very much welcome.
2. The second major challenge is our inability to pay our staff well.
Our staff members are committed people who are willing and ready to help the kids get educated in order to have a better future. However, in spite of their commitment and sacrifices, the school is unable to pay them a relatively encouraging salary. Some make about US$40 per month, while others make $30. Still, there are some who make $25 per month. It is even worse for our support staffers who make $10 per month. We would like to pay $40 as the minimum salary at the school, at least for now.
This low salary payment is based on the fact that salary payment largely comes from the fees collected from parents, and these are very, very low. For instance, parents pay less than $40 per year but, even at this, many of them don’t usually pay the full amount because of financial problems or poverty. The school usually writes off these amounts as bad debts at the end of the year.
To help solve this problem, we have been thinking about increasing the fees paid by parents, but we realize that this action will cause most of the kids to drop from school, as their parents will not be able to pay. What we have now decided to do is talk with more people to choose a child for sponsorship or to sponsor a teacher. The more students we get on sponsorship, the better it will be for us in the area of higher salary payment. It will also help us to attract more qualified teachers.
Our international supporters/partners could help by spreading the word about the school’s child sponsorship program to individuals and institutions that they know or think can help so that, if possible, they can choose a child to sponsor. They could also encourage staff sponsorship where a teacher’s salary could be paid by an individual or institution. Lena Marner and others have already started encouraging friends and others in this direction.
Question 11: What are the school’s greatest achievements over the last year?
Answer: Well, in answering this question, we consider the three visits of our Swedish guests to our school as the greatest achievement of the year.
We say this because their visits brought about a lot of positive changes and things in the existence of the school. First of all, these visits have created additional international links, recognition and exposure of the school and the work we are doing with the kids.
Second, from their visits, five additional children were selected for sponsorship.
Third, their visits enabled the school to get certain needed items that it had never had before. For example, the kids now have a complete set of jerseys for the boys and another set for the girls. Besides, the school now has its own camera that staffers use to take pictures of school programs and activities. This means, the Director (Paul Yeenie Harry) does not always have to go to Buchanan to take pictures of what happens at the school.
Question 12: What plans do you have for the future of the school – next year and longer term?
Answer: For the next school year, which will start in September, we intend to add the first class (grade seven) of junior high division.
The school has been operating as a primary/elementary school since its establishment nine years ago. When a child completes grade six, he graduates and leaves the school.
The idea to start junior high came as a suggestion from parents and staff, who believe that we should raise our own junior high students before starting, finishing and moving to our proposed school building, since the proposed thirteen-classroom school will operate from kindergarten to junior high. By adding grade seven in the new school year, the school will now be operating as both primary & junior high school.
Of course this would mean that we have to go back to the Ministry of Education to obtain a new permit for the new status. This will cost less than $100.
The major problem associated with this transition is the lack of space for the new class. Our plan is to construct one classroom next to the current building in order to place one of the kindergarten classes in it. This has to be done between June and September. When this is done, the new class (grade seven) will use the classroom that the kindergarten class will be taken from.
Some carpenters have been asked to do the cost analysis of this project and submit it to the school at the end of May or early June. We will need the help of everyone.
We want to establish school-to-school relationships with other schools, whether they are in Europe, America or any other part of the world. This will not only promote knowledge and cultural interactions, but also peace, cooperation and unity.
Because we have not yet had the needed funds to start and finish our proposed school building, we consider it a long-term plan, and it is our major project plan at the moment. We would like to complete this project before the end of our lease in 2017.
Associated with this school project is the construction of a visitors’ quarter to be used by foreign guests and volunteers visiting the school. We don’t want them to come and lodge in a hotel or guesthouse. If they are coming to help the kids and the school, we should be able to help them in some ways, too.
Once again, thanks for the questions. We hope we were able to appropriately respond to the questions asked. We are all partners in progress.
PAUL YEENIE HARRY
LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE, BUCHANAN
Dear friends and partners,
Keframa College is proud to announce that the first lot/senior class that were admitted at Keframa College sat for national examinations and passed. It is our pleasure to share this great news with friends and supporters here at Nabuur.com. Some of these students are already enrolled for certificate courses in other colleges like Uganda Christian Institute for Professional Development Lira and others are in senior five this year. One of the students will be enrolled for a theology course by August 2014.
A big thank you to you all for your support.
Augustine Kezzy Okello
Keframa College(Project Leader at Nabuur.com)