LAC 2014 Operation Classroom

The Department of Operation Classroom is the embodiment of activities of the Operation Classroom Inc. (OCI) program with support from the Operation Classroom Inc. in Indiana; and OCI ministries and partners across the United States of America.

As a partnership program with the Liberia Annual Conference UMC, we assist in Christian-based education and health care. OCI has over the past 25 years been involved in programs and projects designed to respond to specific needs of schools, health centers and communities where OCI works.

The business of Operation Classroom in Liberia continues to be engaging in “education that change lives” by improving Secondary Education across Liberia through the OCI Scholars Program, the OCI Shipping Program, the OCI Challenge Grant Program, and the OCI Volunteers Program.

OCI Scholars Program: The granting of Work/Study scholarships to deserving selected students is one of the ways OCI has over the years endeavored to meet the education needs of thousands of Liberian children.  During the year under review, our scholars program faced a tremendous funding challenge which resulted to the suspension of the program for a year to allow us time to restructure the program and make it more effective and efficient.  However, despite the current status of the OCI scholars program, we still received gifts from our partners for scholarships – praise be to God for continuously moving the hearts of our friends to continue to support our ministry.

A table showing schools which benefitted from the program:

Name of School Location Comments
WPL Brumskine UMS Buchanan,
Grand Bassa Co.
We are hopeful that the kids benefited.
St. Matthew UMS Logan Town,
Montserrado Co.
We are thankful to the loving people of St. Matthew’s UMC in Bowie, Maryland for providing these scholarship funds which enabled the kids at the school to remain in school.
Ganta UMS Ganta, Nimba Co. GUMS was also able to use the little funds to provide scholarship supports for few kids at the school.
T. Gray UMS Gbarnga, Bong Co. The funds were able to help a few students to pay for their fees and remain in school.
College of West Africa Monrovia,
Montserrado Co.
The funds allowed the school to help few students with special financial needs pay their fees.

Projects:

As funds are available, OCI provides matching grants to help improve and equip secondary schools. Hence, projects are designed and developed to allow OCI respond to specific needs of schools and communities where OCI works. During the year under review OCI was able to earmark seven projects for implementation. All of these projects were implemented with great progress and funding is needed to do finishing touches for full completion of some projects.

  1. WPL Brumskine UMS Main School building Roof Renovation, Buchanan
    Project completed by OCI Indiana.
    The school building now has a new roof, thus making the building a conducive learning environment; thanks to our partners in the Indiana area.
  2. St. Matthew UMS Clinic Project, Logan Town.|
    Construction is on-going by St Matthew UMC, Bowie, Maryland, USA.
    With the availability of funding, work has resumed on the clinic and ongoing.
  3. WPL Brumskine UMS Textbook and Science Lab Equipment, Buchanan.
    Purchased by OCI Indiana.
    The school was able to procure a complete set of the Ministry of Educaion prescribed textbooks and a new microscope which are being utilized by the kids and teachers.
  4. Zwedru UM School Construction, Zwedru
    Almost completed by OCI, Holston Conference.
    All rough work done; the painting phase is in progress – funds are now available to complete that phase; the furniture are also being made; while funds are needed to do the toilet.
  5. T Gray UM Elementary. School Project, Ganta.
    The project is competed by OCI Indiana OCI team.
    OCI Indiana provided funds to have the building completed. As we speak, the building has been completed and being utilized by the kids. Thanks to our friends from the Indiana Area.
  6. J. L. Morris UMS Sr. High School Building Painting Project, Paynesville, Montserrado County.
    Completed by OCI Minnesota VIM Team.
    The entire school building was well painted and given a face-lift.
  7. Ganta Hospital Water Well Project, Ganta, Nimba County.
    Completed by OCI Indiana Office.
    As you will see in our pictorial updates, the well was drilled and being used to provide clean water for the hospital and entire mission station. Thanks to Bob Coolman who made this possible

Work/Mission Teams: Each year, teams of volunteer folks from across the U.S. come to Liberia to assist with a variety of projects, including school construction, teacher training, and operational programming. During the year under review we received one VIM team from the Minnesota Area. The team which was headed by Rev. Linda Koelman of the North UMC in Minneapolis, Minnesota was a 5 person team who painted the J. L. Morris UMS Senior High School building, both inside and outside. Since the painting of the building, students and teachers alike have continued to express their appreciation for the beautification of their school. We are happy and grateful to Linda and her team for job well done.

Shipment: Typically OCI sends two containers of education and medical supplies to Liberia each year. During this reporting period, we received from Operation Classroom Inc. Indiana, USA a shipment of 1X40’ container containing boxes of assorted school and medical supplies; including pieces of wood work equipment for various OCI projects in Liberia in January 2013. Items from the containers were sorted out, inventory done and distributed accordingly.

Beneficiaries included the

  • five OCI partner schools,
  • Ganta UM Hospital,
  • Ganta Mission Station,
  • Ganta Nursing School,
  • Dept. of General Education and Ministry,
  • Gompa District,
  • Tappita District,
  • Dept of Christian Education,
  • New Georgia UMC,
  • Judith Craig Love a Child Orphanage,
  • Women Training Center,
  • Old Aged Ministry,
  • Conference Center,
  • Henri W. Dennis UMS,
  • J. L. Morris UMS,
  • Gbarnga School of Theology,
  • Arthur F. Kulah UMS,
  • First UMC and Nimene Nah UMC of the Sinoe District,
  • Camphor Mission,
  • University of Liberia,
  • United Methodist University,
  • C.W.Duncan UMS,
  • J. Kofi Asmah UMS,
  • Nazarene,
  • Samuel Ziah UMS,
  • New Hope Academy,
  • Monrovia District “New Hope UM Women School”,
  • and many others.

These gifts, I believe, are going to make a tremendous impact in the lives of the students, individuals, churches and those institutions that have benefited. In fact, in the pictures below you will see hundreds of delegates and deaconesses receiving, with appreciation and high excitement, t-shirts and other items from this shipment during the 180th sitting of the LAC/UMC.  Thanks to the OCI family and our donors who have contributed these gifts!

OCI New Program: Following a time of evaluation of the OCI program’s 25 years ministry here in West Africa, we realized that our intervention was tremendously helping schools out but at the same time, the program was also creating some level of dependency. Most of the schools, if not all, with which OCI has partnered over the past 25 years, exists today with some of the very same needs OCI’s assistance had targeted – schools seem not to be proactive, always looking up to OCI for continuous survival. We saw no difference between the OCI partner schools and that of the non OCI partner school. Given this reality, we as a program took a radical decision to suspend the program to allow us time to rethink our strategy and make the program more effective and efficient.

Back in May of 2013, when Bob and Sandy Coolman visited with us in West Africa, we committed ourselves to having the restructured Operation Classroom Program in place BEFORE the 2013/14 school began.

Over the course of the last several months, the Indiana, Liberia, and the Sierra Leone offices collaborated to develop a restructured Operation Classroom program in these two West African Countries that will:

  • Insure that OCI will only make commitments to its partners in West Africa that it can live up to.
  • That ALL secondary UM schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone will have the opportunity to benefit from Operation Classroom’s program
  • That deserving students across Liberia and Sierra Leone will have the opportunity to be considered for selection as OCI Scholars, and
  • That the United Methodist Education Departments in Liberia and Sierra Leone will be able to use the OCI Program to help improve secondary education in both countries.

In the process of Developing the new “OCI Education Improvement Program”, we have consulted with Bishops Innis and Yambasu – our United Methodist Bishops in both countries, with the Directors of Education in both countries, and with various agencies engaged with education, both in West Africa and in the US.  The program as being presented to you now includes a variety of elements that we hope to acquaint you, our partners, with at the appropriate time.

Our goal is to help improve ALL secondary schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  You, as school administrators, have an important role to play in order to accomplish that.  We hope that you will partner with us to accomplish this goal.

Visitation: As a project-focused program, networking to ensure best practice, regular site visitation (monitoring) and routine assessment of our projects is a way of life for our program. In May of 2013, our office, along with the CEO/President of OCI, Robert Coolman and his wife, Sandy Coolman visited a number of schools and other projects for the purpose of holding consultation regarding the OCI new program. Among the schools visited were the Cuttington University Faculty of Agriculture, the Gbarnga Mission Station, the Ganta Mission Station, and the then five OCI schools. These visits were fruitful as they helped informed our endeavor to restructure the OCI Program in a significant way.

In November of 2013, your humble servant was also privileged to have form part of Bishop’s delegation to the 2013 Liberia Partners Summit held in Alton, Illinois, the U.S.A.  The summit is an annual coordination meeting where various United Methodist organizations from across the U.S. come together to do strategic planning on the various programs and projects on which we collaborate with the UMC in the U.S. The two days session was characterized by presentations on the 4H club program, the Community Development Services program, the Water for Life project of the Dept. Human Rights, and the Ganta Hospital program. There were also group discussions on topical issues arising from the various presentations and ways forward were considered. Beyond these, we had the opportunity to interact with wonderful UM folks and made new friends. The summit was a very wonderful and rewarding one. Praise God for the originators of such a meeting.

Challenges:

  • Our major problem since we came on board as OCI Liberia Coordinator, in about 4 years now has been the OC Van. The van is now old and has reported a lot of breakdown and finally being grounded since 2012. Efforts to have the van repaired have yielded very little results, as the problem on the van seems compounded and mechanics are finding it almost impossible to get to the real root of the problem and solve it.
  • Also, we have come to realize that even the Jeep we were given as incentive is also old now and continue to report multiple problems – largely due to the bad road condition of most of the areas we often have had to use the car. This is also costing a lot of my already meager finance to pay maintenance cost.

Recommendations:

  • That the OCI van be replaced with a new van (preferably a vehicle that can withstand the bad roads in Liberia) to facilitate safe movement of mission teams in-country and also reduce the high cost of maintenance and risk of continuous breakdown.
  • That OCI provides the in-country office with a 4×4 vehicle, preferably a double cabin pick-up truck to enhance our smooth movement in-country and ensure effective service delivery and productivity.
  • To work with all OCI partner schools to develop and strengthen extra curriculum programs in each school. We believe this will add extra value to the school, increase enrollment chances and thus improve the school’s local revenue base.
  • To Train & establish effective financial management systems for all OCI schools and Projects for proper management and accountability purposes.
  • To train all OCI schools administrators into basic proposal writing and strategic plan development skills.

Future Plans and Acknowledgement: Friends, please join me in expressing our profound thanks and sincere gratitude to God for the grace to serve. Our special thanks and appreciation goes to Bishop John G. Innis and Mth. Irene Innis for their outstanding leadership which has continued to inspire us for ministry.

To our Indiana Office – the CEO, Board of Directors, and staff; the St. Matthew’s UMC in Bowie, the Indiana Mission team; the Minnesota team; and ALL of you our great friends and partners in the U.S. we thank you so very much for your wonderful and generous contributions and supports to the OCI ministries in Liberia.

To all of the OCI partner schools – staff and students, we bless God for the opportunity we have to work with you over the years. We also express thanks to the entire membership of the Liberia Annual Conference for the supports and friendly working environment we have together. To Napoleon and Rev. Morrison Wleh, I remain so much grateful for the love, advice, ideas and the tireless support you gave to me.

Finally, I will be thoughtless if I do not acknowledge and thank my darling wife and kids who prayed and stayed lonely many days whilst we travelled distances to achieve God’s work. To God be the glory, great things He has done and great things He will continue to do.

Faithfully Submitted. Alfred Nyan Zigbuo, Country Coordinator, Operation Classroom Inc.. The Liberia Annual Conference The United Methodist Church