Farming for Education and the Future Charney and the Children of Dumah Village

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A young woman, Charney Rogers’ desire to help educate rural community kids in Bong County has shown her sense of humanity in a world where those who can afford to provide such needs shy away for obvious reasons.

Charney’s story signifies that the peer pressure that has eclipsed the humanity of present generation of young people, especially females, has never had a hold on her, a junior student at the Cuttington University studying Agriculture. As young and innocent as she might appear, Charney is dedicating her time, energy and resources to a vision: ensuring that children of a certain village in Bong County get educated. These lucky Liberian kids are found in Dumah Village.

Charney, in her mid-twenties, said she developed the passion to lend a helping hand to any vulnerable kid in her community during her teenage years. Since then, her passion for kids has grown and now she is working with an entire village to help provide them with education.

With her meager resources, Charney is helping to educate over 180 students at the Dumah Community School by providing them copybooks, pencils, files, and other learning materials. She has embarked upon an ambitious agricultural program the proceeds from which will help keep the kids in school.

In an interview with the Daily Observer, Charney said, “I have had the burning desire to help children since I was very young.” Providing a specific case, Charney said it started in 2007 when as a 13-year old, her teacher started taking note of her interest in kids and commented on it.

“My teacher left me to look after my classmates and after she returned she was impressed with how I had everything under control,” she said.

Charney’s project in Dumah started when she was doing an assignment at Kpatawee waterfall and saw a group of children at the fall during school hours.
Heartbroken that the kids were not in school, Charney learned that their parents could not afford to send them to school.

She learned further that not many of the kids preferred to follow their parents to their farms to engage in adult chores and therefore some of them chose to go to the waterfall because it’s easier to get food and a little money there. And, it’s about three hours walk from home to the school, without lunch.

“This is how, with a broken spirit, I went back to campus asking myself how I could be of help to these children. But I was in school and did not have any source of money. Then I remembered that I did not have to be wealthy to give back to those in need,” she said. She therefore began saving her lunch money and soon it got to what she considered enough to start her project with the kids.

She went back to Dumah and engaged the town chief about how she had been feeling since she met those kids. By then, she had a small organization known as Rainbow Foundation (RF).

“I told him that I had started an organization whose only source of income was me. I, however, wanted him to give me a small portion of land to start a farm, promising him that the crops would be sold and the proceeds used to keep the kids in school. He agreed and took me to the only school in that part of Suakoko, Bong County. He told the staff to work with me, and it has been a wonderful experience,” she said.

From Charney’s campus to Dumah is an hour’s drive on motorbike, the only method of transport and it costs US$5 or L$520 to get there.

“I did not care about depriving myself of the fancy things any young woman of my age would desire as long as I was keeping my pocket money intended for school to help a dying village. Oh yes, children are the future. If kids of this village become good people tomorrow, their village, Bong County, Liberia, Africa and the whole world will benefit,” she said.

“One of the motorbike riders who usually took me to the village asked me whether I’m from that village. This was a hard question to answer because I have practically become a part of the village. But anyway, my answer would now be yes,” she said.

RF has been supplying copybooks, pencils, files and other school materials for the children. Actual work on the project has started to take shape, with everything falling into place according to plan.

“God made everything successful according to our plan. The pepper started in a nursery and was soon transplanted,” she said, adding that months later it started bearing, but it was also unfortunately the end of another semester and she had to go to Sierra Leone to sit a test.

Setback to a vibrant Initiative
Charney’s absence didn’t mean well for the burgeoning project with a lot of setbacks creeping in.

She was in Sierra Leone for a whole month and didn’t hear from the principal or the town chief.

“I was worried because Dumah doesn’t have network. It has one particular spot that they go to whenever someone wants to make a call,” she said.

Upon her return, Charney’s first move was to visit the village to see the farm. She was, however, greeted with bad news. “Oh, I almost collapsed! The farm and everything else was gone. All of my time, energy, effort, and money were all gone,” she said, vowing “never to get myself involved in anything like this again.”

But this charming young lady, who has never considered herself a failure at anything, and in spite of her frustration, had a second thought remembering that the road to success isn’t an easy one.

“Then, my fiancé, Michael Burke, encouraged me to go back and ask the people in charge what happened to the farm. I didn’t mind their responses, so they begged me to start again. One thing that inspired me was the fact that because of my NGO, more kids got enrolled into the school.”

She agreed to restart the program, this time, with her hero Michael. Now to prove how serious the villagers are, the town chief gave RF 5 acres of land “to do anything.” As a way of showing remorse, the chief said, “This land now belongs to Rainbow Foundation, your organization. It is yours, take and do whatever as long as it’s for the benefit of our children here in this village.”

According to the RF founder, the villagers, this time around, have been very supportive, providing labor on the land. RF chose to continue growing pepper to sell to local marketers, Charney said.

“Money generated will be used to keep the children in school, maintain the farm, pay workers, and the six teachers at the school, who are also workers on the farm. The income from the farm will also buy more school supplies and food for the children; create programs to attract more and more children of that village into the school.

“Michael, the villagers and I do not yet have all it takes to speed up the work on the farm. We are looking forward to working with anyone who finds our story compelling. Donors and supporters, we are in search of you!”

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