Three years ago, Liberia was just an outline on a map of West Africa. Like many Americans, I was ignorant of the decades of violence and brutality that helped to form Liberian culture as we know it today.
That feels like a long time ago. I now consider myself an honored member of the Liberian community. I am a board member of the African Dream Academy Foundation that supports the African Dream Academy, the only free all day school in Liberia. Sam Enders is its founder and visionary leader. As an early childhood specialist, I have worked in the school with the children and staff for the last two years. I am deeply saddened that, due to the Ebola crisis, this year I will not be able to go.
The African Dream Academy is the embodiment of this survivor nation. It is more than just a school: it provides a complete and holistic education to the children, including nutritious meals, and parent education and parent employment. When I left last March, the school was in the process of building a new early childhood center, a playground and a group community pavilion. In the last year, the parents and staff built a water purification plant and began to farm to supply its own food.
Since the Ebola crisis, the school is not in session. However, Sam has continued to minister to the community and to provide home education and health support to each and every family. Indeed, he has even built a playground in anticipation of the returning students.
Liberia is a land of survivors. There is almost no adult today who does not remember the horrors and terror of the revolutions. Everyone has scars. Everyone has a story to tell. But, Liberia will go forward from this new crisis and continue to grow.
I miss my Liberian friends: I miss the warmth, joy, dance, and the sense of seamless community. I miss having the opportunity to help.