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Send children like Harvena to school

Children at United Methodist-affiliated schools in Liberia need scholarships to ensure they receive an education, and United Methodist churches here in Michigan can help by giving to the Readers to Leaders fundraising campaign.

REV. JON REYNOLDS
Readers to Leaders Campaign Co-leader

I’ve traveled to Liberia twice. During both trips, we had an opportunity to visit students, orphans, schools, teachers, pastors, farmers, and clinics. Liberians are some of the most committed and faithful people you will ever meet. They are proud, resilient, strong, and courageous. One thing that pulls on my heartstrings is that 16% of Liberia’s 740,000 school-age children are not able to attend school. This amounts to 118,400 children that cannot get the education they need to be successful.

I have heard many stories of parents needing to make the impossible decision of which of their children they will send to school. In some homes, all the siblings of children work to help raise money for their brother or sister to be able to go to school. During both of our trips, our team members were approached by kids with tears in their eyes, asking if there was any way they could help cover their school fees.

In Liberia, it costs about $300 to send a kid to school for a year. In the United States, that is a car payment or a trip to the grocery store. Some people pay that much to stay in a hotel for one night. The $300 buys school materials, covers the cost of a uniform, helps the school pay its teachers, and helps to install flush toilets and sinks to maintain sanitation in the schools.

Liberian schools are filled with students who want to learn. They know that the livelihood of their family and their descendants depends on how well they do in the classroom. We hope to fund 100 of the 118,400 students in Liberia who are not currently in school. If every church in the Michigan Conference were to help raise enough money for one scholarship, then 100 students like Harvena would be able to attend school.

Harvena’s father, William, was the associate pastor of a church in the Kakata-Farmington River District of the Liberia Annual Conference. In February 2022, he was in a fatal motorbike accident. Pastor William had three daughters enrolled in early childhood classes at Janice Lee Mclain United Methodist School: 8-year-old Harvena in Kindergarten-2, 5-year-old Helena in Kindergarten-1, and 3-year-old Willimina in the nursery class.

Pastor William not only left behind these three young children, but his wife was pregnant at the time of the accident. In March 2022, she gave birth to a son who is named after his father. You can imagine this is a very difficult time for the family emotionally and financially. We are so thankful that Harvena is a recipient of a Readers to Leaders scholarship from the Michigan Conference. In offering the scholarship, the school could identify with the family by helping to ease the financial burden and keep the children in school.

Finally, it breaks my heart to say that many parents, when agonizing over whom to send to school, often end up sending their sons. Because many schools lack flush toilets and safe water as girls grow up and start menstruating, they end up needing to leave school to go home. By investing $300 in each student, we will be helping to build infrastructure in the schools to remove barriers to girls going to school. We hope that by installing flush toilets and water pumps, we will pave the way to having more girls in school.

Will you join me in supporting children like Harvena through the Readers to Leaders fundraising campaign? We are asking Michigan congregations to raise at least $600 by May 1, 2023, to reach our goal of helping 100 students for eight years of schooling in Liberia. Children at four United Methodist-affiliated schools, including Harvena at Janice Lee Mclain United Methodist School, will receive half of the $600, with the other half going to support children participating in the Michigan Conference’s Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School Program here in Michigan. Learn more about this campaign by visiting our Readers to Leaders web page.

Congregations wishing to give to this life-giving Readers to Leaders fundraising campaign can mail a check to the Conference Treasurer, 1161 East Clark Road, Suite 212 DeWitt MI 48820, with the phrase “Readers to Leaders Campaign Acct #4415” in the memo.

Individuals can also make donations online by clicking this secure link via Paypal.

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The Michigan Conference