Giving, Part 1

Some of you may remember my request for donations this past Christmas. I asked for goods or cash to purchase items that I could carry back with us to Liberia to bless some children at a local orphanage. I received several bags of donated items, plus gift cards and a student chapel offering from Holy Cross Lutheran School, Miami to buy what was most needed. After a few days of searching for great bargains, we ended up with so many wonderful things that each of our 8 suitcases were right at the 50 pound limit!    
I was most excited about the 50 books I was able to get (i.e.- most of the weight in each suitcase 😉) for just $1 each!! Thankfully we’re fans of Half Price Books, and hit up several in the Austin area to get a great selection!

Once we brought everything to Liberia, I planned to wait until February/March to join our school in a donation drive. In the end our drive has been postponed until further notice, but I didn’t want to wait any longer with items that could do more good now. After talking with several people, we decided to split the donations between two orphanages: the original one and another, which is in the church that our nanny, E, attends. We delivered the donations to E’s orphanage last week and it was so great to see everyone at the church. E asked us to come at 1 pm, which was right when church let out and lunch was being served. The ladies in the back of the church had a big pot of rice and a big pot of chicken in a sauce and each child got a bowl.

    
The children are sitting in a room that is sort of adjacent to the front of the church, here:

 
They have a pulpit, a drum set with holes and old foam filling the bass, some saasaas (pronounced sah-sah’s), and a mic system (critical for any Liberian church because they like things LOUD!) 

In the next few shots, E, her son R, and The Little One are holding a saasaa. You might know it as a shekere, a gourd with beads woven around it, and theirs can really make a nice loud sound!    
    
    
 
In the next two shots, ‘Mother’ is on the left. She is the pastor and runs the orphanage. 

   
 
This is the view from the ‘front’ of the church:   

    
Mother told me that most of the children are orphans, but some also just live nearby, but their parents can’t afford to always feed them so they come to church and stay to eat as well. 

This is the seating for the adults, and at night they lay mattresses down in this room too to accommodate the 30+ kids that live there. 

 
The Big One looking in the bags we brought:

   
I am talking with Mother about getting some bible story pictures that we can add to the walls, since most of the children don’t know how to read. 

 
A few shots of the group before we leave:

   
    
 
Oh, what a sweet sweet baby!!!

   
 
Notice the headphones on the boy in the front? They aren’t connected to anything. I think he just thought he looked cooler with them on! 

   
    
Here’s a panorama view of both rooms from the entrance.

 
They have two chalkboards that they use for their bible lessons, and also their schooling. E told me that there’s no other school for them to attend, unless they paid to go to school.  I’ve heard that schooling costs about $300-400 a year. My guess is that this is for private schools, which I suppose are viewed better than the public ones, because all of my ‘research’ shows that education is free. And sadly, some of my research shows how poorly teachers are paid here too. They make around $160/month, which is less than the janitor staff at our school, not by too much, but seems roughly on par with several jobs around. However, the striking piece of information missing is that a member of the House of Representatives here make $5,000 a month!!! That means the teachers are making less than 3% of their salary! And to put things in perspective, the House Reps here make 34% of the monthly salary of a U.S. House Rep, whereas the teachers make a 1/2% (yes, .05%) of what a lower end teacher would make (32k). It’s no wonder students are taught by teachers who don’t have a higher education than those they teach, and take bribes in so many (sad) forms. So it’s no wonder that parents will pay so much for their children to attend good schools. But I digress… 

It was really great to know that I had found so many educational books, plus great non-fiction books at the book sale to share, and also the many classroom things that Dollar Tree always has!! I really hope this helps them blossom educationally!

This is the front of the church on our way out. 

  

    
    
And one last shot before we left. The lady in pink smiled the WHOLE time we were there. 🙂

 
So, if you were part of the giving, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! You have made a difference to these children and church! 

And stay tuned for Giving, Part 2 when we are able to take the other half of the items to another orphanage (tentatively March 6th).

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