But seven months ago, we couldn’t imagine that a shipping container sitting on a lot in the middle of Liberia would turn into a thriving, happy school.
Every step since has been one of building upon the last.
From the container came a roof and a perimeter fence. Twenty-five students and three teachers. Word got out. Twenty-five turned to one hundred.
Then the jealousies begin. You can’t have 100 students! You can run a school in a utility building and an old container! Sonnie, the Director, called Terry, panicked. They’re threatening to shut us down. Scaled back to 50 students, and, as Terry advised, work with those defunct schools who hadn’t opened their doors for years but who suddenly decided that school should be done not like that but just so. Show yourself a partner and not a competitor. Invite them to help, help them any way you can. We’re all in this together.
Two boxes we sent last October still haven’t arrived. One’s in Jamaica, after having spent a year crossing two oceans and many ports, including twice in Manilla, once in Greece and now landed in Jamaica for the second time. A well-travelled little box of school supplies that is. The other box is probably in somebody’s house in Monrovia. We know it got there, just didn’t make it to the village outside of town where it belongs. Somebody took it just in case it had something valuable, something other than math flash cards.
And the school year grind continues — frustrated teachers because the kids won’t sit still. How could they? Most have never been in a school, and those who had had to walk two hours each way. Yes, they talk, yes they play — but they’re learning, didn’t you say that? I’m more worried about the quiet ones, I told them, how to get them engaged, talking, playing, having fun — and learning along with the others. Teaching is crazy, we all agree, and amazing, we can all see.
But we need more space. We need satellite broadband. We need supplies.
One thing at a time. Foundations must be laid deliberately. We’ll ask around, we’ll find some money and get that moving. Yet, how exciting to think about it: eight classrooms, and a hallway!
Late December, with generosity of the kindly, the foundation is laid. The core of the building is set in stone. But other things are happening. We over here, we’ve got our work, our holidays, our own children and families. And the dogs. And Terry has so much work, so much pressure. More trips, one to Singapore and the Philippines. Stopover in Dubai, get settled, find the time zone, then to Uganda — twice now, and it’s only March.
And the foundation lies waiting. Michael, the rainy season is coming, it will all be wiped out, all that foundation for nothing. We’ll take care of it — our generous friends and family. They’re amazing, you know.
Oh, and did I tell you? The students are taking a national exam for grades 3 and 6. They’re working so hard! The test is on March 27. Please pray for them!
THAT, my friend, is the product of a solid foundation. You started this with nothing. An idea became a project, a project became a school, and now seven kids are taking a national exam. Not just a national exam, the West African Examination Council exam. This is a big deal. And seven who, if they had a school, it was two hours each way, are taking it. Seven studying who never studied like that before. Seven who are making their families so proud.
The new building, that will come. But those seven — that is the foundation that so much will be built upon.