It is a great pleasure to greet you Bishop and Members of the conference on behalf of the children of Liberia in which you have entrusted into our care.
I was appointed as the Director of the Department of Children Ministries and Coordinator of the Emkweltmission Children Projects in Liberia.
On September 25 2013, I was appointed by the Bishop of the Liberia Annual Conference, Rev. Dr. John G. Innis to head the department after the abrupt departure of its former director, Bro. Frido N. Kinkolenge as Director of the department and coordinator of the children projects.
Before taking over the department, a survey was conducted by Rev. George D. Wilson, Jr. Director of the Connectional Ministries of the Liberia Annual Conference on the various projects that were under the department of Children Ministries thus giving us an appreciation of the challenges we were about to encounter.
As a result of the fact finding by the Council on Ministries, there were keys things that stood up in all of the projects. The department operated 4 projects in Buchanan, Kakata, Camphor Mission and Pipeline in Monrovia.
Brighter Future Children Rescue Center (BFC) in Buchanan, Children Empowered for Sustainability Program (CESPRO) in Kakata, My Daughter’s Place (MDP) at Camphor Mission and Feed My Lamb (FML) at Pipeline, Monrovia. Also, it is important to note that two of the four projects Brighter Future Children Rescue Centre (BFC) and the Children Empowered for Sustainability Program (CESPRO) are sponsored by the Emkweltmission of the German United Methodist Church. My Daughter’s Place and Feed My Lamb get their support from the Women Division of GBGM.
- Massive drop-out of trainees due to the abrupt departure of Frido which resulted to the lack of food, salaries and training and low morale at all of the centers.
- Overdue salaries for two months.
- Up to present, there is no word yet as to sponsorship of MDP and FML programs for 2014. However, we have started recruiting trainees for the 2014 cycle.
- Lack of Video and Digital cameras, projector for recording activities at the various centers.
- Lack of funds to pay tuition fees for those students who are on the projects tuition fees paying list at BFC, CESPRO and FML.
These challenges gives us the strength to work and challenged our resolved to preserves. There were immense pressure from staffs for salaries and students for food and training materials.
Achievements: As a result of hard work and countless hours and our partners’ continuous commitment to the work of the projects, we were able to rekindle the program. The first major issue was to reassure the various projects that the Liberia Annual Conference and our partners were doing everything humanly possible to address all of the Challenges at the various project sites.
This was very difficult for some of the centers to trust especially when it came to salaries because the program already owed them for two months.
However, by the grace of God, we were able to pay all arrears to every staff persons at the projects and normal activities resumed.
Graduation and Closing Program: By the Grace of God, The four centers have closed for the year 2013. The program graduated 117 trainees in various disciplines as follows:
CESPRO in Kakata 68; BFC in Buchanan 34; MDP at Camphor UMM 18 while Feed My Lamb promoted 34 to leave the program.
Overview of the Projects: Brighter Future Children Rescue Centre (BFC) in Buchanan caters to war affected youths, Former Child Solider, children from poor background, and street kids.
At the center, the children are taught first and most importantly Christian Ethics, wherein, they are to respect older people, behave themselves and do those things that are acceptable to the society. Apart from Christian ethics, there are eight other disciplines taught at BFC to include: Pastry/Baking, Tie/dye, Tailoring, Soap Making, Cosmetology, Carpentry, Music Arts and Poultry Management.
The programs encounter a major setback due to the abrupt departure of the program former director. There was no food, training materials and slackness in the program, as a result many of the students felt reluctant and dropped. Out of the 244 students recruited, 146 dropped and 98 ended the year while 34 graduated.
Children Empowered For Sustainability Program: This program started off with 150 girls for the seventh cycle. Like all of the other centers, the total of 68 students received certificates of graduation on November 9, 2013 while 83 dropped out.
The Assistant Minister for Planning, Research and Development, Hon. Ann-Dora Kargbo Gbormie served as Guest Speaker. She encouraged the girls to put what they have acquired to good use, stressing that they have got the skills but need a little amount of money for them to start up their own businesses. Madam Esther Ricks the Chairperson of the J.J. Roberts United Methodist High School and Executive of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) presented certificates to the graduates and encourage them to continue in the direction they are following. The graduation was a festive event and well attended by families, friends and the people of Kakata. The hall was packed to capacity while people stood outside listing to the live radio broadcast from the hall.
The husband of one of the graduates extended his thanks and appreciation to the United Methodist Church and all of the donors for transforming the lives of his family. He said that by training his wife (a student of CESPRO); the family has become financially potent. The graduate currently is the sole provider of pastry food to the largest government high school in Kakata. The Family according to the husband is empowered and is praying for other graduates to seek in their communities for opportunities that will empowered them as he and his family are empowered.
Courses taught at CESPRO include: Pastry/Baking, Tie/dye, Tailoring, Soap Making and Cosmetology.
Though the dropped out of the program was huge, it did not shake our resolve; rather it gives us the courage to work harder.
Poultry at BFC: The poultry at BFC in Buchanan is doing very fine. During the taking over program, a total of 87 layers were at the poultry. These layers had started to get sick leading to 12 dying over a very short period of time.
After numerous of advice from agriculture specialist the decision was reached to have them sold. The money raised was added up and replenished the stock to 500 boilers chickens for meat; the boilers are now in the poultry. Our team is working overtime to prevent further deaths. The aim of the poultry project is to teach some of the students how to grow chickens and to manage and maintain small business as well as creating a way for the program to sustain in the future when donor support phases out. A new 5KVA generator for the poultry and the future piggery projects was purchased during the fourth quarter. According to Frido, the generator that was at the poultry got damaged and was taken to a shop for repairs but he did not mentioned the location of the shop thus we can’t trace it.
We are working with the Ganta United Methodist Mission as partners in this program poultry and future piggery projects. Ganta Mission gets the day old chicks and brew them until they are six weeks before we take them over to avoid less mortality rate on our end due to the long distance from the point of purchase. However, we encountered the great lost as more than 275 of our chickens died. We are also intending to add poultry and piggery at CESPRO in Kakata in the future if and when we can generate funds for those projects.
MY Daughter’s Place: Situated at Camphor Mission, this program caters to girls whom are mostly villagers caught up in the nets of early marriages. The aim of the program is to give the girls a life skill wherein they can be able to feed and provide the basic needs of their children.
Like all of the other projects, MDP also suffered a drop of 18 student from the 98 enrolled. A total of 18 students graduated in various disciplines.
It was amazing to see the turnout at this program, families and friends, husbands and children from the graduates turned out in full to celebrate with the graduates. There is a call by the local Men to include them in the program but due to lack of funded, we have not responded to the call. Courses taught at MDP include: Soap Making, Pastry/Baking and Tailoring.
Feed My Lamb: Feed My Lamb program is located in Pipeline Community behind the Red Light Market area. The program started off with 69 street children both boys and girls.
The program was originally a feeding program but when it was discovered that most of the children in the program could not read or write, Literacy and Numeracy I and Literacy and Numeracy II and Appropriate Behavior Learning were added.
The program also provides Tutorial activities for those who attend regular school or academic programs, sports activities for both boys and girls. Few students are selected and supported by the program to attend regular school.
Feeding: Feeding has been and still is one of the serious motivating factors in keeping the students into the vocation program. According to some of the children, the food at most of the centres served as their only meal for the day on most occasions.
CESPRO and BFC prepared hot meals each school day that is 4 days per week. While at FML and MDP feeding is 2 and 3 times a week respectively.
Sports: Sport plays a major role in reconciliation and unifying people. With this knowledge, all of our programs are engaged in sporting activities. However the students gathered on every sport days to play sports, something that they really appreciate.
There are plans for our centers to meet one another in sporting activities during the next cycle. However, during the graduation programs, 25 teachers and staffs were selected to visit the closing and graduation exercises of their sister’s programs. Students from BFC were taken to My Daughter’s Place and vice versa. We are planning for all of the projects to get to interact with each other; in this way they will be building bond and love for one another. Thee various centers will need sport uniforms during the next cycle that will enable us to play games.
HIV and AIDS Awareness Workshop: HIV and AIDS awareness workshop is schedule to take place from was held from January 17 -18 in the city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The workshop was attended by 169 participants and 11 facilitators. Several topics to include The effect and affect of HIV and AIDS in Liberia, Gender based Violence, HIV and AIDS awareness, How can the church prevent stigmatization and How can Cultural practices influence the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst others were discussed.
By the grace of God, and depending on the support of our partners, 2014 is expected to be a year of development in our two major projects, BFC in Buchanan and CESPRO in Kakata. We are hoping to add the poultry and piggery to CESPRO and piggery to BFC.
There are plans to expand our agriculture program especially in vegetable production at BFC in Buchanan. All of the existing departments at our various projects will be maintained and we will be hoping to add pastry/baking and soap making at Feed My Lamb
On behalf of the Staffs and the children of Liberia, we want to say a big thank you and all of you for your pray that God almighty will bless and replenish what you have given to us.
Yours in Mission, Clarence Lamphere Benson, Director