Little Yatta Kiazolu danced with excitement when a team from Project Kids Engagement, which visited her home in the swampy community of LBS, presented a study packet for her own use. “Ehn you see my new coloring book,” she told her older sister.
“She can spell her name and all,” her mother proudly said. The words barely came out of her mouth when Yatta began: “Y-A-T-T-A… Yatta!” However, when challenged to spell her last name, she grinned shyly and buried her face on her mother’s lap.
The sharp-speaking four year-old does not seem to tell the difference between her age and what grade level. For Yatta, the word “four” simply sounds like the right thing to say. But she knows about this thing called school and is determined to not let her sisters leave her behind.
David Frankfort, a PKE volunteer from the Rotary Club of Monrovia, explained to the family the PKE’s initiative and why they “should not hire a tutor.” Tutors visit many places and, because you don’t know where all they’ve been, their movements can easily increase the spread of the virus.
Frankfort is one of many volunteers who have recognized and supported the Project Kids Engagement over the months.
Her father works for an NGO whose focus is in the educational sector, and her mother is a homemaker.
Project Kids Engagement, a family-focused educational initiative, is being implemented with funding from the pockets of the founder, Mrs. Moore and friends and supporters who have seen value in the initiative.
PKE has so far purchased and distributed over 1000 packages (approximately US$4 each). However, Moore says anyone willing to contribute to the project is welcome to do so for the benefit of the kids.
The idea to teach the kids at home, according to the PKE’s founder, Brenda Brewer Moore, is to create awareness for parents to make time available on a daily basis to tutor their kids.
Based on that, she is encouraging parents not to allow the indefinite closure of school to keep their kids behind in their in their learning.
With this in mind, Mrs.. Moore and her team recently visited several communities including the Red Hill, where they spotted other kids for the learning process.
At present, the PKE management does not only concentrate its activity in one community, but spreads the idea in all other communities in and around Monrovia.
Mrs.. Moore recalled that she encountered a raging thought: “How are other parents keeping their kids busy and engaged during the compulsory closure of schools as a result of the Ebola Crisis?”
Following that thought, she said she visited many kids in her community and observed that they were simply sitting idle, playing or loitering with a clear sign that they had nothing better to do such as learning to read and write.
“Then the thought hit me,” says Brenda: “Why not print a few work sheets that you could share with them to keep busy?”
She said her initial target was 150 kids, “But after I did the first distribution a few weeks ago, I quickly realized that there are many more kids in my immediate neighborhood than I estimated. So I took the number to 200. They were really happy and excited, and their parents were receptive to the initiative and promised to work with their kids to do the exercises.”
What is more important is that she does all this from her pocket, not looking for fame or fortune.
Not be deterred by that, she recently embarked on the course of distributing educational packets to children in the Red Hill Community (just after the St. Paul’s bridge), where her team came across a group of children that had lost both their parents to the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
“I counted about nine of them. Their ages ranged from about two years old to about 15 years old,” she recalls.
According to her, the children had been under quarantine for 21 days, and that day was their last day, and so they were in a joyous and thankful mood to see someone talk to them.
“I saw these children and started crying. I couldn’t imagine what they must be feeling. Their mother’s sister had taken them in and told us that the rest of the family was waiting for the 21 days to end so that the family will make a decision on how to take care of the children.”
According to Mrs.. Moore, New Project community liaison told her that the community has been very supportive in providing food and supplies weekly to the family, to ensure that they don’t feel ostracized, stigmatized or alone.
Mrs.. Moore: “I looked at these children, so happy, gleeful and excited over receiving, among other things, coloring pages and pencils, etc., and just said a silent prayer of thanks to God for life, health and for being good to me and my family.”
“I cannot imagine what these children must be dealing with, especially with the confusion of not knowing where both their parents are, and of being told to stay in their homes all day without interacting with anyone else, not playing with the other children. They seem too young to grasp the enormity of all of this.”
The exercise took the team to so many other communities, but the project executive director was ‘very impressed’ with how organized the Red Hill Community leadership is dealing with and responding to the Ebola crisis.
“The level of support I am told they give to this family and three others in similar situation are really amazing and laudable.”
For more information about PKE or to offer support, please call 0886510731 or 0777510731.