Monrovia – Looking to keep kids in the Baptist Seminary Community on the Robertsfield Highway engaged; Brenda Brewer-Moore came up with an idea that is now growing legs with some 157 kids in the area benefiting and keeping busy in the absence of regular school.
It’s been more than a month since Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced a State of Emergency, declaring in the process that ignorance and poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices, continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease.
For Brenda, seeing kids in her community staying home while she home-schooled her own kids, was heartbreaking. “The Idea came from me teaching my own kids at home,” she says. “But seeing other kids in the area less busy and idled, I thought there was a gap that needed to be filled.”
That gap started to be filled when Brenda started sending out letters and emails to friends and supporters via the social media Facebook for support - and the donations have been pouring in: Pencils, Exercise books. Crayons, books, worksheets and an assortment of school supplies.
“We’ve received US$1,000 so far, but it’s not so much the donations but the generosity and receptiveness to the idea has been overwhelming,” says Brenda, who says that her main challenge right now is making photocopies.
“The weekly photocopy is costly. Each packet has about 20/30sheets minimum.”
Brenda says the Kits meant to keep children engaged for a few hours a week and include composition books, crayons, pencils, erasers, coloring printouts, tracing worksheets, math worksheets, etc.
“The kits target children in the lower level, nursery, kindergarten up to 3rd grade,” says Brenda, pointing to a stash of supplies recently donated by Action Aid. “My initial target is 200 kids,”
Each kit contains: a box of crayons, 2 pencils, an eraser, an exercise book, a Disney character coloring book, a glossary of two-letters English words book; ABC tracing book, ABC coloring book, an assorted mathematics worksheet (counting, number sequence, etc.); and a sharpener. To date, Brenda says she has distributed to 157, ninety one boys and sixty six girls.
With no government support, Brenda is for now relying on private citizens and friends she wrote personally who have been responding in both cash and supplies. She credits Korto Williams of Action Aid Liberia, Angelique weeks. Kwame Clement, Cornelius Poney, Jennifer Anderson Wilfred Passawe, Nat Walker, Blidi Elliot among others.
Action Aid’s Williams says Brenda’s initiative is a welcome relief for these trying times, especially for children’s education.
“Ebola is a public health crisis that has a multi-dimensional, dismantling effect on Liberia’s development, reinforcing existing gaps in the education and health sectors. Ms. Moore’s educational initiative for children living in poverty addresses urgent educational needs while we fight to end Ebola,” Williams says. Brenda says she refuses to allow the travails of the project disrupt her family life, but says her family have been supportive.
“We do it mostly on weekends, so it's not disruptive at all. Besides my family help me sort out the donations and prepare the kits.” Not looking to lose momentum, Brenda says the kids exercises are reviewed weekly prior to dishing out new kits. “It helps us keep track of their progress.”
For the foreseeable future, Brenda says she remains on course to reach 200 kids. As for how long she hopes to keep the project going? “I Intend to continue until school reopens and kids are back in the classrooms again.”
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