Yesterday we got the chance to travel out into rural Liberia, (the bush). The Community Development Program of the UMC here had project where they built wells and latrines for 3 villages in Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties. Yesterday was the dedication ceremonies for those projects. We were along with the Human Rights Monitor who had brought the need for clean water to the attention of the Community Development Program.
We left at just before 8 AM and got home a little after 8 PM. It was fun to spend that much time with several people from the church office that we don't spend much time with, but it was a long time to be in a van driving on those "roads". Some of them really were nothing more than paths going through the jungle, but those were almost better than the rocky paved roads. Thankfully we never got stuck, but there were some close calls.
Here in Monrovia we have seen a lifestyle that has redefined poverty (little running water, electricity, widespread unemployment, etc). But in the villages, it is redefined again. The villages are so isolated that many of them never leave. The nearest schools, clinics, markets, electricity, running water, or clean water (until these wells were built) are 5 or 6 hours walks away. They live in huts made of mud and thatch that leak or collapse during heavy rain. In one villages where we had a chance to talk to some villagers we found out that the for village and surrounding area (population 1,000) there is no school (no clinic either).
There is one lady in that village who volunteers to teach the children all by herself, all 125 of them. She has just an 11th grade education herself and teaching the children in a small one room church. There were 6 deaf children in that village alone who have no way of communicating with anyone. The teacher there doesn't even know that sign language exist. These children will never be able to read/ write or communicate beyond simple gestures or crying. They don't and will probably never know their own name, or even what a name is.
As a result of this visit (and another planned for this weekend to Bomi County) the Human Rights Monitor is taking advantage of our presence to focus on an universal education campaign. The Director will be visiting with the Ministry of Education tomorow to discuss the plans for educating the rural areas and especially those children with disabilities (in urban areas as well). There are even more remote parts of Liberia than where we were. Most of those children will never recieve an education, especially those who are deaf. Even in the capital city most parents see educating children with disabilities as a waste of time. Tricia will be facilitating a Deaf Educators Workshop this week to train teachers and promote deaf awareness. She will also appear on several radio programs to promote the importance of universal education.
Thanks for reading.