Liberia: Educate West Point Launches “Clean Up West Point” Sanitation Campaign
Monrovia – Walk around West Point today and you will see trash piling up on the streets everywhere you look. There are no public trash cans. Running water and electricity is a luxury for just a small minority.
For all 75,000 residents, there are only four public bathrooms. 22,000 of these residents do not go to school as there is only one public school in all of West Point now operating at max capacity – this school was the previous Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) during the 2015 outbreak.
Look out into the Atlantic Ocean and you will see trash packed deep into the water where instead you should see sand lining the shores. Every year, hundreds and hundreds of West Point residents are becoming homeless due to the coastal erosion causing their houses to wash right into the ocean.
Established in 2017, Educate West Point (EWP) Liberia is educating 120 beneficiaries about the importance of hygiene and sanitation, as well as environmental conservation. “West Point may be Liberia’s largest slum community,” says EWP Founder Musa Sheriff “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of it.” Sheriff goes on to say, “This is our home, it has been my home since before the wars and before Ebola wreaked havoc on the community. We need to teach our youth and their parents that we all must play a part in taking care of it and that starts with thinking twice before throwing your trash on the streets.”
The struggles West Point faces is that there is no public waste disposal system covering all of West Point today which is why EWP is trying to teach youth to start caring about the environment from a young age. “We started with nine students in 2017 and in just two years we are supporting 120 beneficiaries in our various programs including supporting children to attend N.V. Massaquoi Public School, Early Childhood Development (ECD) students to attend our newly accredited ECD Center in West point, as well as more students in our After School and Summer Program operating year-round. All students receive uniforms, school supplies, two hot meals a day and more thanks to EWP sponsors from all over the world.”
This weekend, together with the support of the government West Point Health and Sanitation Organization with attendance from the President Mr. Thomas M. H. Tweh, as well as the Commissioner of West Point William C. Wea, EWP launched a Clean Up West Point Campaign which will happen on the first Saturday of every month as this day is the government’s service day in Liberia.
“We will be out on the streets of West Point the first Saturday of every month,” says Sheriff. “All of our students and their parents will be joining us and we will be inviting all partners, government officials, friends and family to join us so the initiative can grow and grow in time. We hope to work with the government to devise ways to improve sanitation in West Point which will help improve the health and quality of life of all 75,000 residents.”
For the launch this weekend, over 100 EWP and West Point community members came out to participate in the campaign kickoff collecting over 50 large trash bags of wastes from the streets of West Point. The children were excited and asked questions which showed they may now think more before throwing wastes into the streets. However, it is clear that there is not much they can do until a waste disposal system is implemented in West Point.
After the first quarter of participating in the government day of service happening on the first Saturday of every month, EWP will expand its initiatives to cover other community projects needed which will be decided upon by the EWP community along with partners in West Point. The goal is simply to team up with the government on the monthly day of service and give back to the West Point community.
Furthermore, in the words of EWP Founder Musa Sheriff, “Initiatives like these will allow us to take what EWP is teaching the students in the classroom and put it into practice so EWP students will become the change makers needed to lift up West Point and the surrounding community. This requires both a strong educational background and a desire to affect the social good right here in their home communities.”