-As a new 24 classroom school campus nears completion
Amid the fight against the deadly novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), that has led to the closure of all learning facilities, including colleges and universities, New Hope Academy’s proprietor, Mr. Lester Wehyee said he treasures lots of appreciation for the Malachi York Foundation (MYF) who continuously supports his quest to educate Liberian children at very minimum cost and, for some, at no cost.
In an interview with the Daily Observer recently at his new educational foundation’s edifice undergoing construction, Wehyee said, he is short of words now to express how deeply appreciative he is for the ceaseless intervention of the Malachi York Foundation in ensuring that his dream of educating poor people’s children, including orphans, remains on course.
“My wife and I started this journey in 2010 and since then we are grateful to God that He has led us through. God has connected us with the right friends and organizations, particularly the Malachi York Foundation and we, too, have lived up to our commitment and we will continue to let the dream live on. We have so much appreciation for the Malachi York Foundation but it is only the future that will unleash the potency in us to express to the fullest our utmost gratitude to them,” Wehyee said.
The construction of the new twenty-four (24) classroom campus, according to Wehyee, came following his foundation’s eviction from the Out-land neighborhood in Zayzay community, Paynesville.
“Two years ago our landlord decided to evict us. He created conditions we found all too difficult to live with and as such, to not let our mission die, we bought this place in order to build our own campus and continue this noble mission,” he said, adding, “Coronavirus has no control over our passion and commitment to do what we know is right for our children.”
He explained that the MYF, which also contributed immensely in buying the quarter-acre plot of land, behind Benson Hospital, Paynesville, has donated over US$2,000 in cash and materials for the ongoing construction project.
“Dr. Malachi Z. York’s Foundation is not a strange establishment to me. I know them and truly, they live up to their promises. In addition to the numerous cash contributions, they gave us a ten-tyre load of sand, several other materials as well as 100 bags of cement while we carry on this project, and have assured us that they are still by our side as always,” Wehyee explained.
The New Hope Academy, a junior high school, has over the years been teaching over 600 students annually since 2010 and hopes to elevate the grade levels up to 12th grade.
“We have 157 orphans, before and from the Ebola era, whose care and training we take full responsibility for. Even though almost all of them have guardians we commit our foundation to helping them acquire quality grade school education, as well as moral and Christian disciplines. We pray COVID is eliminated so that our children can return to school and continue their learning.”
Wehyee put the cost of the project at US$57,000 with US$23,990 already secured and spent.
“12 of the 24 classrooms ongoing construction somewhere near Duport Road are almost completed, while we continue to make effort in raising the balance money to complete the entire ground floor building, hoping that in the future we may add a story over this building for our future senior high students,” he said.
Concerning how he got in touch with the Malachi York Foundation, Wehyee said through social media he became a friend to one of the followers of Dr. Malachi Z. York and since then, there has been and continues to be a very close tie between him and the MYF family.
“In 2005 our partnership started and after three years, they came to Liberia for the first time in 2008. I hosted them and accompanied them in meeting relevant officials of government and also erecting billboards informing Liberians and all others residing in Liberia that Dr. York, who is incarcerated in the United States, is innocent and should be released,” he narrated.
Wehyee appealed to the Liberian government to take interest in reengaging the U.S. government on bilateral and diplomatic basis to help free Dr. York from prison and let him be repatriated to Liberia, his naturalized home before his incarceration.
He said although he has not met Dr. York in person, his works around the world and the continuity of his vision by his followers show that he is a humanitarian, an educator and a true leader who wants to see a just and better world for all.
About the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wehyee said it is a good idea, simply because life only means something important when there is health and that, there is no education in the midst of the dead.
“My only appeal to the Ministry of Education is that they should put in place a strong monitoring team that will monitor what is going at the various high schools where the 12th graders have resumed activities leading to their sitting of the West African Senior Certificate Exams (WASCE).
He said health protocols should be followed in order for both the students and the teachers or those interacting with them to stay safe.