“Kids Engagement”, Making Sure Children Learn During Ebola

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Brenda Moore, the project coordinator for Project Kids Engagement (PKE) has created an educational activity that keeps hundreds of children up to par with their learning while schools are closed due to the Ebola outbreak.

At the start of the Ebola outbreak, all Liberian schools were closed to ensure the safety of the pupils and their teaching staff. Now, millions of children are sitting idly at home, playing, getting into mischievous activities and in some instances frustrating their parents. Others, though, can be seen doing petty trading around the city to help their parents.

“The whole intent of Kids Engagement is to keep parents conscious that time is flying by and they must keep their children engaged in learning,” Brenda highlighted.

Brenda, who launched PKE in her home community, noticed that her two children had nothing to do after schools were closed. Now she finds her project impacting dozens of communities, hundreds of children, orphanages and homes.

“I initially started in September with tutoring my two children who were sitting around playing. I printed activity sheets from online that can keep kids engaged and that's how this whole project started,” she narrated “ My husband and I took about $200 from our salary and bought some school supplies, erasers, paper, worksheets, pencils, crayons, ink pens, and the packets,” she added.

According to Brenda, the spread of her project started after she realized that the other children sitting idle in her community were well over hundreds. So she decided to give all the children an education packet.

“There were a lot more kids than I had estimated. And the houses are so close together that we didn’t want to skip one to go to the other. So I decided to fill my entire block. I didn't have money to buy stuff for all the homes, so I asked friends for support, and some were able to reach out to me,” Brenda recounted.

She received her first support from a colleague, Cornelius Nagbe, who says he’s flattered and overwhelmed to know that his donations are making a positive impact on the children.

Since then, Brenda has gone on to receive donations, volunteers and other help from over 70 people for which she says she is extremely grateful.

“I’d like to thank all the members of our team who have been very supportive. I have 70 persons to thank and can't name them all now. I appreciate the support and supporters. There's a lot of effort in believing something that someone is doing and to put your hard cash into it. I'm very appreciative of that,” she added.

Meanwhile, Brenda and her team were spotted at the Peace Island community over the weekend. It is reported to have more than 300 children. Teamed into 10 groups, they went from door to door to handing out packets of educational materials. The families were excited to see Brenda at their doorsteps with packets as promised. They were also eager to complete them and receive more.

“Each house was selected by block coordinators who went around taking down the names of the children. We’re identifying the children that were selected by the block leaders and are going to issue 200 educational packets that cost $4.00 a packet. We will follow up with them after two weeks. Either the parents or an older sibling will work with the children to make sure they complete the educational packets,” she disclosed.

Among those distributing the packets was Mrs. Victoria Cooper Enchia, President of the Rotary Club of Monrovia.

The club has been supportive of the Ebola response from the very beginning, said Mrs. Enchia. “We’ve been working with the Ministry of Health and now that international donors have arrived, we are part of our communities. We want to support all of the children that are out of school and have joined with Kid’s Engagement because we find that we can do a lot more when we support communities that are supporting themselves. We’re supporting Brenda with some educational materials and supplies for the children so that when they go back to school the children can be a little bit up to date and wouldn’t have forgotten everything. We’re here today to add energy to her hands as we go through the communities,” Mrs. Enchia added.

Also represented in the group was UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) there to oversee some of the items being distributed that were given to OBAA’s Girl’s organization.

“We’re here to make sure the materials that were given to the OBAA’s Girls are being used by the kids. They were given teaching and learning materials for the kids to use while staying at home during the Ebola crisis. This is what UNICEF has done through the years, especially for women and children during critical times like these. We reach out to kids especially the disadvantaged,” a staff worker added.

Brenda, who says she has reached over 11 communities including Rally Town market, Caldwell, Red Hill and Baptist Seminary says she has been opportune to go to various orphanages as well.

“People contacted me about coming into their communities because they were willing to follow up with the children and their work. And that's how we started going out to communities. We've reached 11 communities so far, and several orphanages including the Kelekula ICC for Children, Love A Child Orphanage, Devine Rock Orphanage, Amazing Grace Orphanage and Ampha. We've been able to reach 600 hundred children easily,” she said.

For now, Brenda doesn’t have plans to go into new communities as she works hard to keep up with the ones that have already been reached. Following up on the children to make sure their lessons are done is her main priority right now.

“What we need is a really good photocopier because the materials we're using need to be reproduced. We need a copier that has all the compiling functions including stapling otherwise I have to pay people to do the stapling and so on.” she pleaded.

According to Brenda, the supplies given to the children don’t last them long, and moving around to get to the children and distribute the packets also requires gas.

“What we give them in the packages won't last them through the month. We give them one package containing an eraser, copybook, 3 worksheets, a pack of crayons, pen and pencil, which cost $4. We need gas to move around.  What we're doing requires a lot of logistics, moving from place to place and coordinating,” she said.

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