It is obvious that many students will be unable to be among their colleagues as academic activities resume because their parents and guardians are financially unable to cater to their educational needs this year.
Paying school fees in Liberia has always been an annual problem as fees are hiked every year and most parents are unemployed and have no meaningful earnings. The severity of the situation this year is the result of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Though Schools were pronounced open since February 16, the lack of funds for parents to register their children amid the exorbitant fees coupled with fears from other parents about the EVD, has rendered the entire process without zeal.
Help seems not to be coming for most parents, which definitely indicates that their children may not enter school this academic year.
But one religious institution that is lending a helping hand to some financially powerless parents is the St. Edward Catholic Church. The church has made cash donations to some students.
The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of the church on Sunday distributed over LD$22,000 to seven children. The beneficiaries, ages 14 to 24, received between L$3,000 and L$8,000 each.
Their classes range from 7th to 12th grade. However the students, according to the (PPC), were not just provided the cash on a need basis, but because of their commitment and untiring service to the church.
The beneficiaries included Emmanuel Burphy, Abu Bokarie, Ursula Wiefue, Abrahamline Nyonneoh, Jerryline Armah, Jacob Johnson and Austin K. Weah.
Associate Parish Priest, Rev. Ft. Michael Gorson, who conceived the idea, said it is meant to augment their parents’ efforts as they strive to meet the educational needs of their children.
“We could have done more than that and for many of our young people, but we are a small church and we don’t have that capacity. But we just want to thank those children for their numerous services to the church,” he said.
He said there are more children out there who need help to get back to school, especially as the EVD has struck so hard, rendering many parents jobless.
He called on churches, especially the bigger ones, to come to the fore and help. “The churches need to come out now and start to do something because our people are in need,” he stressed.
The church should not only meet the spiritual needs of the people, but try to meet the social and moral needs of its people, especially the children.
He urged parents to bring their children close to God. “Our children belong to the church so I want to urge you all to encourage the children to come to Christ. And when they come we need to do things that will encourage them to stay.”
The vice chair of the PPC, Mother Patricia Fahnbulleh, said the church is trying to establish a scholarship fund for the student population to help unprivileged ones to continue their education.
“We want to build on this and even go further by establishing a scholarship fund for them,” she said.
She lauded Rev. Gorson for his brilliant idea. “As you can see, Rev. Gorson is a young Priest who holds the young people of this parish in his heart and is trying to do all he can to help them.
The recipients, in interviews with the Daily Observer, lauded the leadership and members of the Parish, for what they described as such a surprise package.
The church has also pledged to pay the first semester fees of a 12th grade student whose father told her that he did not have money to send her to school this year.
The St. Edward Parish is located in Logan Town, Bushrod Island. It is a small Parish that is trying to do so much for its members and the community.
The church also used the occasion to honor two of its long serving and astute members who have contributed immensely to the growth and development of the Parish. Those honored were Mr. Joseph P. Duawo and Atty. Marion Wreh. Both have served the Parish and the Catholic Church in general in several capacities.