Excitement and anticipation is running high, as Kenny, Cain, Seth and I depart tomorrow for Monrovia the capital city of Liberia Africa! After a week at home that sped by in a blur, we are headed to Africa for a month with the opportunity to work with 4-H Liberia.We can’t wait for our time near the equator, especially as snow flakes fell at home today.
Liberia and 4-H Liberia has seen some dramatic changes over the past decades. Originally 4-H was brought to Liberia by the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers that worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Education in the 1960s. Because of its success, the Ministries of Agriculture and Education adopted 4-H clubs in schools similar to our FFA programs. At its height, 4-H had a membership of 27,000 young people in 1,950 clubs. Impressive for a country of 3.7 million.
Unfortunately in 1980, much of the Peace Corp left the country because of the military coup and despite efforts to sustain 4-H clubs they did not function as they did prior to the coup. Twenty years of civil war and unrest led to further decrease in the education system and 4-H all but ceased to exist. But all hope was not lost.
In 2006, nine students from three universities in Monrovia met to establish an institution that would give children practical leaderships skills to empower them to be self-reliant, good citizens. One of the students came across 4-H on the internet and the vision and mission statement matched the students’ idea. From there the idea took hold and after contacting the U.S. 4-H Headquarters and getting permission they started 4-H Liberia. They operated completely with volunteer staff until February 2012 when through the help of the Ralph C. Norman Foundation and the National 4-H Council, the National Executive Director Umaru Sheriff started receiving a salary.
There mission is that,
4-H Liberia empowers young people to become self-sufficient citizens by developing their potential in premiere leadership, agricultural sustainability and essential life skills.
With a vision that,
As these young people mature, equipped with the knowledge and skills to be productive citizens, Mama Liberia will develop into a wholesome, functioning, democratic society with an abundance of domestic food production.
Currently there are 950 members being directly effected by these ideas with hopes of many, many more. It is humbling to see how the actions of nine individuals can start a movement that will have positive impacts on the lives of people for years to come.
While learning about 4-H Liberia from afar has been interesting, we are very excited and blessed to have the opportunity to experience 4-H Liberia in person and support them in any way that we can. Can’t wait to be in the classroom and meet the staff, teachers, and students!
We hope if internet access permits to provide updates from country if possible so stay tuned for more!
Journal from abroad,