The Long Walk to School
Over half of all girl children in Liberia were never in school at all. What will this statistic become after the quarantine?
Last fall, I met with officials in the Bong County offices of the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. They fight to enact the pro-poor agenda, keep girls and women protected from gender-based violence, and make school a reality for as many children as they can reach. Their job is overwhelming to say the least, and made more so by the lack of adequate funding and staff. It was an honor to hear them speak about their work, but they were transparent with me about their desperation.
When we informed them of our plans to construct a home for women and girls, and ultimately to build a school, they were very pleased. They told us that a safe place for girls who want to finish school was exactly what they needed.
Then one official told us that the day before our meeting, she had helped pick up three young sisters in nearby Suakoko who had walked there from their home in Nimba County – over 75 miles away! The girls told them they were walking to Monrovia (the capital), because they wanted to go to school. Their parents had refused to pay the fees to send them, since they were “only girls.” They would likely have arranged for them to be married at a young age. The county official told me:
“If your facility were here, I could send these girls right to you. Their parents do not even want them back now.”
As we all struggle day to day with the difficulties of sheltering in place and having our children out of school, we must remain grateful that their education is still a guarantee. This brief interlude will not deprive them of lifelong dreams. But in Liberia, and many other places around the world where girls have to fight to be allowed to even attend school at all, what will the future look like?
Lydia House, the home we are building, offers hope for the future of so many women and girls whose lives and dreams are being threatened even more with each passing day. We want to make sure it is there for them to come to when these difficult times have passed.
I know that all of us are facing unprecedented challenges right now. But I also know that when we sow into the future of those who need it most, we are rebuilding our own future as well: "Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble." (Psalms 41:1)
Support our building project so that our women’s home will be open and ready to take in residents by next year.