Mission leaders are urging Holston church members to help teachers and students in Liberia after the Ebola crisis closed their schools for several months.
On Feb. 2, many United Methodist schools in Liberia will reopen, and mission leaders are concerned about funding.
“Much work needs to be done to prepare for students to be back in school after being away for seven months during the Ebola crisis,” said Helen Roberts-Evans, missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries in Liberia.
New Ebola cases in Liberia now number in the single digits, according to the World Health Organization. In 2014, 3,700 people died with the disease in Liberia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Although Liberia is nearing the end of the Ebola crisis, “the ripple effects will be with us for some time,” Roberts-Evans said.
As recently as Dec. 21, the security guard at C. W. Duncan Memorial United Methodist School in Clara Town (Monrovia District) was found dead in the school building, Roberts-Evans reported in her December newsletter. His name was John Johnson.
“We are cautioned not to touch dead bodies, so Mr. Johnson’s body remained in the school until the Ebola Response Team and Red Cross came on Tuesday morning, Dec. 23. While arranging for a new security guard, the school was burglarized.”
Money is desperately needed for scholarships, preparing buildings, purchasing supplies and paying teachers, Roberts-Evans said. A concern is that parents will need more time to pay school fees since many were out of work or under quarantine for the past six months.
The Rev. Dan Kelly, retired clergy member in Knoxville and a long-time supporter and advocate for education in Liberia, said that assistance from Holston Conference is greatly needed.
“I am encouraging Holston Conference to call on our churches to respond as schools open again in Liberia,” Kelly said. “Teachers have not been paid since last June. I’ve always felt that providing student scholarships provided a school with funds to pay teachers.”
To give to “Scholarships for Elementary, Secondary, College & Seminary Education” in Liberia, give online or write a check to your local church with “Advance #15125B” on the memo line.