Sections of a wall covering two classrooms of a welfare elementary and junior high school in Duala, Bushrod Island, collapsed last Wednesday. Instead of prompting community residents to protect the school, the damage gave some individuals the chance to steal 73 chairs from the school.
The school known as Source Institute, is run by Mr. Wle Wle Kofa, president of the over 600 member-strong Liberian Fishermen Association, with membership of fishermen from Maryland to Montserrado counties.
In an interview over the weekend, Mr. Kofa called on philanthropic organizations, businesses, the Red Cross, the Ministry of Education as well as presidential candidates in the ensuing elections to identify with the school.
“School resumes on September 4 and therefore we need materials like zinc, blocks, cement, timber, among others, to rebuild the broken walls as well as to reinforce the beams of the entire school,” said Kofa.
The institute caters to the children of fishermen, low-income families and orphans, and has a program called “Children Redeeming Children,” where students are encouraged to invite street children to come to the school and learn alongside them, Kofa said. “The program has helped to get many kids off the streets and we receive a good number of kids who come to the school because their friends asked them to come,” said Kofa.
The school runs from elementary to the 9th grade, with students ranging from ages 3 to 21. Kofa said the school has a student population of 896, adding that with school reopening soon, he wants Liberians and others who are concerned about the future of the kids to provide assistance in materials and in kind to rebuild the school. He said it is unfortunate that some yet to be identified individuals visited the school during the night of the incident and made away with the school’s 73 chairs that were exposed after the wall collapsed. “We are grateful to God that at the time of the collapse, there was no one sitting in the area where the walls came down,” he added.
The Source Institute was built from funds provided by Catholic Archbishop Michael K. Francis, after the April 1996 civil war in Monrovia. According to Mr. Kofa, Bishop Francis (now deceased) felt sorry for the hundreds of kids who at the time were aimlessly roaming communities on Bushrod Island and decided to do something about their welfare. Kofa said the school caters to children whose parents cannot afford to pay school fees; fishermen whose economic activities still leave them unable to provide education for their kids; and children who have lost their parents and lack the means to get an education.
Kofa said if his appeal gets across to caring and responsive individuals, he would like to elevate the institute to high school level. “The reason is after our students graduate from the 9th grade they don’t have many options and their chances of completing high school become a burden. So being able to take the institute to the level of a high school should solve this difficult problem,” Kofa said.
Interested individuals and organizations willing to help can call: 0777-567-274; 0886-567-274.