Samaritan’s Purse Local School Development Project
Managed by Debbie Young
Background and Description of Need:
Coopers Farm was one of the biggest private rubber farms in Liberia until the recently-ended 14 year Civil War completely destroyed the flourishing plantation. The devastation left those formerly employed on the plantation desperate and languishing without any hope for the future. The area quickly became very poor and overtaken with witchcraft which began its oppression under “secret society” rule. In 2004, Reverend Alphonso Dean saw the need to reach the area with the love of God and the hope of the Gospel. His vision was to start a free Christian School for the children in the community. Today the school operates solely on faith. The children carry their mud blocks, stones or buckets to school to sit on due to their lack of chairs and desks. SP has welcomed the opportunity to encourage the school, the community, and Reverend Dean by providing the means to acquire new furnishings and learning supplies for the students.
The Christian Mission Assembly School teaches children to read and write using the Bible as a primary textbook. The teachers are having an amazing evangelistic effect on the lives of the children, their parents, and their community at large.
Our Response and Expected Outcomes include:
SPL will provide $5,025 to rehabilitate and upgrade the Christian Mission Assembly School with internal furnishings and school supplies in order to enrich the education given in Todee Junction, Coopers Farm, Margibi County, Liberia
Project Started January 31st, 2011
We pray that each of you will join us in prayer as we seek to reach out to these children and their community for God’s Glory.
CMA Project in Cooper’s Farm (the journaling begins)...
History of Coopers Farm:
During the war, the rubber plantation at Coopers Farm was destroyed leaving all the workers and farmers without jobs and without means to support their families. The community was deeply under the oppression of Juju followers (*African traditional religion- combo of animism and witchcraft). Pastor Dean’s church had a vision to bring the Gospel to this community. As the message of God’s truth was spoken and the believers grew, they decided to plant a church. They trained a pastor and put him through Bible School and several years after the church was planted he passed away (his surviving family still lives in the house built and provided by the church). They later trained another pastor and he has been leading the congregation ever since. In the last couple years they began to realize the Gospel was spreading and that if God was going to rise up new leaders to keep this village for Christ than the children need to have a place to be trained in righteousness and basic education. Thus Christian Mission Assembly School was built for just that purpose. They have persevered against many trials, and God is continually blessing them for their endurance and their faith.
First trip to Cooper’s Farm CMA…
February 1, 2011. The Country Director (Kendell) and I met about this project today and he asked me to take on the responsibility of managing it. We are both super excited about what God can do with the $5,000 we have to invest. We are partnering with a local pastor, Rev. Alphonso Dean and his church community, to rehabilitate this school on Cooper’s Farm. We also hired a contractor today, Peewee Johnson (a capable honest man who helped build one of our last school projects in Lomata), and we are both confident in his work and his character. It’s going to be amazing to see what God will do in just a month’s time to change the lives of an entire community for years to come. What an incredibly humble experience and indescribable blessing to be a part of God’s story here in Liberia! Pictures to come soon…
February 3, 2011. Pastor Dean and I drove out to Todee Junction (Cooper’s Farm) and it was about 51 mi to reach. We measured the distance from the farthest village that the kids walk from and it was a little over 4 miles. I learned that the school is free (biblical education and basic learning skills) and it currently has the means to bring in students up to 8th grade. When we arrived on the campus, I noticed that there were no doors on any of the classrooms, and that all the steps were missing, causing kids and adults to climb about 2ft into the classrooms. There were approximately 40-50 kids from the community attending. Less than ¼ have uniforms or sufficient school supplies. (*There is currently no meal program offered each day for the students which means most of them probably don’t eat a sufficient meal each day). Two of the 6 classrooms have dirt floors that need to be cemented. Portable or built-in chalkboards would be helpful. All five classrooms need furnishings (mostly desks for the older students, and benches with built in table tops for the younger). There is a latrine about 50 yards away from the school and a church next door for their chapel sessions. The only hand pump on the campus is spoiled and grown over with a large amount of brush. If there is any surplus of money, then desks for the teachers and a layer of paint would be a great finishing touch. The teachers seemed kind, eager to help, and so excited about the renovations. The students were mostly quiet but incredibly welcoming. Every time a visitor comes they all stand at the same time and with one voice they welcome- “Good morning visitor, how are you this morning?” It seemed that a sense of quietness and even sadness lifted among the teachers and students as they saw Pastor Dean; he obviously has been a great support to them!
February 7th, 2011. This morning Peewee and I sat down and discussed all that we hope to accomplish, Lord willing, with the funds that we have. Today Peewee and I drove out to the school grounds and did the measuring for everything that will need to be built or reconstructed (such as cement stairs for the classes and built-in chalkboards) in the next three weeks. We also considered how many desks we could fit in each classroom and had to discuss the Nation’s enrollment requirements for each anticipated class, and then adjust our vision accordingly. Today, we also put a down payment on all the furnishings and they wood craftsman have already begun to design the desks. All in all, it was a very successful day!
February 14th, 2011. Peewee and I have not only put together a comprehensive budget but we have already purchased and transported the first set of materials that are needed up to Todee; thanks to our amazing movement and logistics staff (not to mention, the amazing support of the Country Director)!
February 18th, 2011. I made a trip up to Todee today with one of SP’s Water and Sanitation’s (WATSAN) pump technicians. It turns out that the well needs extensive work done but SPL’s WATSAN department is hoping to put this school on their upcoming project’s list. That would be such an answer to prayer for this school and its’ community. After a week of working up there, Peewee informed me that he has been getting sick from the only water they have to offer him. I pray that a new well will be a part of this community’s future. Despite the water struggle, he was elated to inform me that the pastor, teachers, and many of the church and community members have jumped in to assist in any way they can. He couldn’t stop laughing and smiling as he told me “I have never experienced a community like this. They are so willing to help with everything and it makes me glad to give up my time for them!”
February 21st, 2011. Peewee called me this morning and bursting with joy as he told me that his team and the community have already finished all the cement work (2 new floors, stairs for all the classrooms, and they had enough leftover cement to install chalkboards in all the rooms instead of just two). They were also able to reconstruct new door frames for each classroom. He told me that he spoke with the wood craftsman and the furniture is over halfway done and should be completed by next week! I can’t believe how quickly this whole project is coming together and how committed all the people are who are involved; it is absolutely inspiring what a small group of devoted servants can accomplish by faith and hard work.
February 28th, 2011. Peewee came to my office today and told me that he has finished all the cement work, and that we have enough money to paint the inside of the school as well. So today we purchased the supplies to go and give this school a brand new face. This is such a huge answer to prayer! I was informed today that all the new furnishings will be ready by midweek. I’m just so amazed by God’s hand of provision throughout this entire project. I received an email today informing me that SP’s “Gifts in Kinds” Program is offering us two full tubs for the school full of composition books, school supplies, and teaching manuals. Not only is God providing the greatest needs of this school but He’s graciously giving us all the extra requests that we desire for these kids and their community. On behalf of the community and the school, I urge you to continue to pray for clean water for this school and its community! Once the furniture is complete, our whole CMA Project team will head up to the newly renovated Christian Mission Assembly School and joyfully celebrate with them.
March 1st, 2011. Today was once again such an amazing testimony of God’s grace and provision over this project. Our furniture is on schedule to be finished tomorrow, and more excitement is arising around every corner. I just found out today that not only did we have enough funds left over to paint the whole school, but we have enough to provide a desk and chair in each classroom for the teachers. These teachers have been standing every day for up to 8 hours laboring for these kids, so you can imagine the look on their faces when we told them they would have a place to sit in between lectures. My heart is filled with such delight and thankfulness to all who have made this project possible!
The story thus far... Photos still to come...