The Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) on Saturday May 14, 2016 dedicated and turned over both a reading room & computer resource center to the New Life Christian Academy after a year of working on the facility for the community school.
The computer lab has been equipped with 10 desktop computers which will provide free computer literacy trainings to both the students of the school and other students in the community.
“As a human resource professional, I have observed that many of the Liberian students graduate from high school without knowing how to operate a computer, research online and utilize the internet to help educate themselves and broaden their knowledge,” said KEEP founder Brenda Brewer Moore.
KEEP is the brainchild of Brenda Brewer Moore and her husband Ransford.
“One of our goals at KEEP is to promote reading, particularly at the Early Childhood Development (ECD) level and the reading room will provide an opportunity to encourage developing the habit of reading among young learners,” she told the audience that comprised officials from the Ministry of Education, the private sector, foreign guests and members of the community.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Dr. Romelle Horton, Deputy Minister for Instruction, pledged an entire collection of books, based on the Liberian curriculum, for the reading room, “so that the students can keep up with their studies while they are out of school.”
Visibly impressed by what she saw, Dr. Horton observed that the reading room and computer center “are situated right within the community, which means, I’m hoping, that it will have an impact on the community, that you have children living in the community making use of this facility — reading and getting into a culture of reading — to love to read and want to learn. So I’m really hoping that they are going to see this as an anchor to bring the community together and train them not only how to ready but how to use the computer.”
At one point, the Assistant Minister for Eearly Childhood Education (MOE), Yukikho Amnon, called out to all the community dwellers in a very loud voice: “My people, this is for your children. This place is for free so your children can learn and be better for you for tomorrow. Please make use of it and don’t let this facility go to waste. This is for you.”
The New Life Christian Academy (NLCA) was founded in a mat shack in 2008 by Rev. and Mrs. William Barjebo, who observed when they returned home from exile in Ghana in 2005 that, “children were loitering around the community during school hours. We asked them and they said their parents did not have the money to send them to school. So I spoke with some of the parents and found that most of them were not able to afford the L$15,000 or L$20,000 tuition that most schools required. And most of these kids, these are not their biological parents. The kids are just staying with them and some are street sellers.
“So I said to them, ‘If I open the school and invite the kids to come to school, would you allow them to come?’ They said, ‘Why not’. So that brought the passion and burden on me to open the school,” Rev. Barjebo said. “See, we preach the Gospel and so we also have to practicalize what we preach.”
Rev. Barjebo, who is also the principal of the school, got in touch with KEEP during the Ebola epidemic when NLCA hosted Youth Connect, an organization called that came to their community to do Ebola sensitization. Voicing his desire for home schooling for the kids, since the Government of Liberia had declared all schools closed during the epidemic, the Youth Connect official told him about KEEP and immediately connected them.
“Immediately when we connected with Brenda, she brought us 250 parcels of learning materials for the kids and we started to distribute them,” he said.
The New Life Christian Academy currently schools 789 kids in morning and afternoon sessions, and hosts adult literacy nights. “New Life has given relief to many kids coming to school, who would have not otherwise had the opportunity; and KEEP coming in to buttress, that is, to brighten the minds of the children, creating a reading room and a computer lab to make available more resources for them, has really strengthened our impact,” Rev. Barjebo said.
The facility has been named the Michelle Tooley Resource Center in honor of an educator who donated the initial cash to start the construction of the center and later died from cancer. KEEP’s work piqued Michelle Tooley’s interest when she initially learned about their acitivies, Brenda says, and left in her will the initial US$2,000, with which the reading room and computer lab were established. Tooley also played host to Public Works Minister Guyde Moore and two other foreign students while they attend college in the United States.
Brenda Moore says her new-found talent for “begging” helped KEEP gather all the materials needed for the facility — from desks, chairs and books for the kids to the computers, paint and tiles, even a generator. The program sheet was inundated with donors and sponsors — institutions and individuals who contributed to the successful make-ready of the facility. Among them present were Price Waterhouse Coopers, APM Terminals, The Liberia Telecommunications Authority and ActionAid Liberia. The set of refurbished computers were donated by the Christian Association for Regional Development (CARD) Europe. StarZ Institute of Technology has pledged to send interns to train teachers at the facility how to use the computers; while Cammepa Productions (Liberia Fashion Week) donated books and games. Commerce Minister and Mrs. Axel Addy donated US$250 worth of books and Public Works Minister and Mrs. Guyde Moore pledged “an mount equivalent to what Ms. Tooley donated” toward an identical facility to be established in Duazohn.
“One Down, two more to 2016,” Brenda exclaimed in a facebook post. The other two are planned to be established in Duazohn, along the Robertsfield Highway and in Gbarpolu County.