New Hope Mission International (NHMI) in Dolo Town, Margibi County which has provided free education to more than 900 deprived children for the past eight years has itself run into financial hardship and has been forced to shut down.
Last Friday during assembly, the school’s founder and CEO Rev. Louise Reeves, asked the students to stay home because the school was closing its doors due to a financial crisis. She explained that it was unfortunate that her partners who have assisted her since 2008 are now unable to continue supporting the school.
Rev. Reeves further informed the students that she had received a letter from the District Education Officer, Mrs. Marcia Edwards, ordering her to suspend academic activities following complaints by teachers and confirmed by representatives of the student council government about the failure of the administration to settle teachers’ salaries. The letter was read to the students following which Rev. Reeves informed them to remain at home while she is trying to find money to reopen the school.
The school which runs from nursery to the 12th grade free of charge has a faculty of 24.
“I have not been able to pay my teachers for the last four months,” Rev. Reeves acknowledged in an interview with the Daily Observer yesterday in Monrovia. “Also the decision (to close the school) stemmed from the District Education Officer’s order to suspend all educational activities until an arrangement is reached with the DEO, and warned that failure would leave her office “with no option but to take a legal administrative action” against Rev. Reeves.
A copy of the DEO’s letter, which is with the Daily Observer, reminded Rev. Reeves of the numerous complaints by teachers and confirmed by representatives of the student council government about the failure of the administration to settle their salaries.
In a reply to the order, Rev. Reeves admitted the unfortunate situation and explained that her partners have been facing financial problems but have encouraged the teachers to stay on. She warned that suspending academic activities will not mean well for the students.
“Therefore, reconsider your decision as we are trying to mitigate the tension as soon as possible,” Rev. Reeves pleaded in her response to the DEO.
She said while it is unfortunate that her partners who have assisted her since 2008 are unable to do so now, she is appealing to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Ministry of Education and Margibi County Legislative Caucus to come to the school’s assistance so that the children’s academic progress would not be interrupted.
Reeves also disclosed that there are 50 orphans at the school’s orphanage center, and she feared for their future if help comes too late.
“We started the school to provide free education to children who were sitting at home and doing nothing,” Rev. Reeves said, “and so with God’s intervention we want to continue the school so that the children will not sit or roam about since they are from families who cannot afford to send their children to schools that charge high fees.”
Rev. Reeves said she never envisioned that the school would meet such difficulties as it is encountering because she believed that there have always been well-meaning Liberians who could offer hope for children whose parents cannot send them to school.
“I am not losing hope,” she said. “I believe that President Sirleaf, the MOE and the Margibi County Legislative Caucus will not let these children down.”
Rev. Reeves was raised in Dolo Town and after traveling abroad decided on her return to give back to children who are less fortunate.
When her non-profit organization was launched eight years ago, Rev. Reeves told neighbors that she was joyful to return home and carry out her dream to help educate some of Liberia’s unfortunate children free of charge, which she has so far accomplished until the recent financial crisis occurred.