The Liberian Orphan Project began in 2002 as a conversation among volunteers about how to help Liberian teachers get the resources they need in their classrooms. In a country where approximately 60% of the population is 24 years of age and under, 40% of Liberians cannot read or write, and resources are so scarce, many educators teach reading without access to books or instructional materials.

Since 2008, The LOEP Teacher Training Team has traveled regularly to Liberia to work with teachers in orphan and mission schools. The Project has turned into a successful five-year professional development program of continuous training for more than 60 teachers! Our Liberian colleagues are remarkably dedicated and focused on education. Their commitment is an inspiration. The following stories are just a few of the many extraordinary accounts of educators and their students.




Angel and Amelia

Angel and Amelia

Angel and Amelia are best friends. When the volunteers of LOEP first met them, they were peeking through the window to watch teacher workshops, insatiably curious about the activities, and intrigued by the process. They giggled delightedly as they observed teachers blow bubbles for a science lesson, create beanbag games for math lessons, and learn to teach the ABCs with a hop scotch grid scratched in the dirt. Witnessing the participants’ excitement about learning motivated the young students, and despite insurmountable odds, and a lack of basic access to educational materials, both girls are now working to receive their high school diplomas.




Mr.Achempong

Mr. Achempong

Mr. Achempong teaches high school Geography. His dedication to his students and the teaching profession is part of what makes him a highly respected professional in his school and community. He has taught in the most adverse circumstances imaginable, including a school occupied by armed insurgents and child soldiers. A remarkable educator with a natural gift for teaching, he has eagerly embraced new methods and skills for his classroom, and continues to inspire his students to achieve. His students could accomplish so much more, if “Poppy,” as he is affectionately known throughout the school community, had textbooks and maps to bring the world to his classroom.




Miss Craigwell

Miss Craigwell

While still a high school student, Miss Craigwell was assigned to assist the LOEP training team. Miss Craigwell attended every workshop after that, successfully completed a teacher certification program, and now teaches first grade at her alma mater. She is a LOEP scholarship student at the University of Liberia pursuing her B.S. in Education. She is an honor student at the University and a highly successful teacher of worshipful first graders who love to come to her exciting classroom every day. One of Liberia’s “War Generation,” Miss Craigwell has overcome incredible obstacles and is the future of her nation’s education profession.




Hawa

Hawa

Hawa is in seventh grade. Her sister, Naomi, should be in fifth grade, but she is deaf. Because there is no school for children with disabilities in their community, Naomi stays home all day doing chores in a silent world, isolated from the community because she is unable to communicate with anyone. Naomi was born with hearing, but as a toddler, she was bitten by a mosquito and infected with malaria. Her mother did the best she could to treat the vicious disease, but she is illiterate, and the medicine dosage was difficult for her to manage properly. Incorrect medication dosage resulted in permanent hearing loss for Hawa’s little sister. Hawa understands that her sister’s future is not bright. She is grateful to have a scholarship to her school, and is determined to become a pediatrician to treat children like Naomi. Hawa is determined and expects to be a doctor and keep Naomi with her always.




Mr. Gbah

Mr. Gbah

Mr. Gbah is a teacher, full-time student, and father of three children. He is a dedicated educator whose work ethic knows no bounds. He teaches high school and volunteers teaching adult literacy classes in his community. Although education for girls is undervalued in Liberia, Mr. Gbah has defied tradition and sent both of his daughters to school at great personal sacrifice. Fond of Shakespeare and Scrabble, Mr. Gbah makes sure his students are exposed to both in his classroom. In a nation where books are scarce, Mr. Gbah has creatively supplemented wellplanned lessons using drama and Scrabble competitions to teach language arts.




Mrs. Goe

Mrs. Goe

Mrs. Goe is a veteran educator who began her career using traditional teacher-centered education methods that are very different from today’s practices. Although the modern approach to classroom instruction was totally new to her, Mrs. Goe embraced LOEP workshops enthusiastically and rose to the challenge. She is successfully employing creative techniques in her classroom. She is excited at the prospect of having textbooks as another instructional tool for her students to use.




Prince

Prince

Prince is a second grader at a Liberian mission school. He is the eldest of three children in a family where two parents work several jobs to achieve their dream of having at least one of their children finish school. Prince’s mother works every day in the market helping another relative sort and sell used clothing. Prince’s father works as a deliveryman and night watchman for a local grocery wholesaler. The delivery vehicle Prince’s father uses daily is a wheel barrel loaded with as much as 500 pounds of rice at a time and pushed by hand all over Monrovia through hazardous, traffic-congested city streets. At night, after delivering literally tons of rice, Prince’s dad works an eighthour shift patrolling the grounds of the grocery wholesaler’s private home compound. Prince and his siblings are expected to perform household chores, help the elders, haul water in buckets from the community well-pump a quarter of a mile from home, keep charcoal stocked for the cooking fire, sift rice, pound cassava and take on any odd jobs that can bring in some income. Prince likes school, works hard, and studies the best he can, but his teachers have no reading textbooks in the classroom. He has had so little experience with full sentences that he cannot read fluently and has basic reading comprehension. Because of lack of access to textbooks and reading materials, Prince is unlikely to get beyond sixth grade, despite the hopes and dreams of his self-sacrificing, hard-working family.




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