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Dr. Miller's Africa Trip-Day 2

Dr. Miller's Liberia, Africa Blog

Day 2, June 3, 2024

My second day in Liberia was a day of honor and sometimes heartbreak as I got to see first-hand what life is like in the Liberia Public School System.  My day began early as our amazing driver, Amos, picked up Mrs. Toe and I.  We traveled throughout the streets of downtown Monrovia and as you can see from the video posted here, traffic is intense.  There are some cars and trucks on the road but many people share a ride from a motorcycle rider.  Others get a ride in a small golf cart sized car called a kekeh.  There are no real stoplights in Liberia and many of the roads have no markings so people are constantly passing you on the road or driving closely in between you and other vehicles.  I am very thankful for Amos as he navigates the dowtown area!  Our first stop was to William V.S. Tubman High School.  I met the principal there and he took Mrs. Toe and I around to visit the vocational department.  We saw the woodworking classroom, computer lab, metal shop, electrical shop, and even met the home economics class.  The girls in home ec. were proud to get a picture with me.  Next, we visited the cosmetology class where girls were learning to braid hair.  Next, I was honored to meet the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) Superintendent, The Honorable James Momoh.  He welcomed us to Liberia and invited us to discuss ways The U.S. could help schools in Liberia.  Dr. Momoh said while the school require materials and resources, his teachers and principals also require training and professional development.  He invited me to assist with working with his principals next week which I am honored to do.  We then met members of the school system's leadership team and had a working meeting about our plans to help the schools of Liberia.  Then, we got ready to visit more schools and I was proud to wear my MCSS shirt that identified me as a helper in Mrs. Toe's organization, The Liberia Public School Project.  I was very excited to move on to Rebecca J. Wilson Elementary School where children in grades 2, 3, and 4 shared their classroom with me.  The children are kind and soft spoken and greeted us with a warm welcome when we entered each classroom.  I had the opportunity to ask them about things their school needed.  The children told me their school needed repairs including paint and fans.  They told me they needed pens and backpacks and better furniture.  Most classrooms were less than half the size of our classrooms and held twice as many children.  The rooms were very hot and many of the desks and benches were falling apart.  The floors were rough and unfinished and some were dirt floors.  The teachers only have chalkboards and very few materials.  Although my heart broke to see these conditions, the children still work hard and are eager to learn.  They were also eager to learn about America and what school is like for us.  I asked the principal there if the children have math materials for learning.  She shared a container of old, used bottle caps with me as those and rocks are what the children use to practice counting.  The school library was pretty sparse and held a few old used books.  Additionally, the school has to be surrounded by barbed wire so intruders do not enter the compound.  The bathrooms have no doors for privacy or running water.  The principal showed me how the school gets fresh water from a well in the courtyard.  There is no playground or playground equipment for the children, only a dirt area outside the school.  A hand bell is used to let the children know when it is time to switch classes.  Our final stop was Gaye Town Junior High School.  Here we spoke with ninth graders and fourth graders who also requested many of the same things-better schools and better materials so they could learn more.  Although my journey was hard today, I am forever thankful to the good people of MCSS and of course, Mrs. Toe for taking me to see these children and schools so I could gain a better idea of what school is like in Liberia and how our community and school district could help.  It excites me to think about how we can make a difference for these children.  As we returned home after a long day, I laid down and thought about the nearly five thousand miles between me and all of you.  My phone no longer shows North America and the United States, it shows Africa.  I felt lonely for a moment and then I thought about all of the children I met today and my heart was full.  Tomorrow, we will visit more schools and deliver many treasures to these beautiful and sweet children.  

Wishing you all a wonderful Move The Pride Day!  ~Dr. Miller, Day 2 June 3, 2024

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