The Partners-in-Ministry-in-Liberia (PIMIL), a United States-based organization, says it is impressed with the level of impact and result from its scholarship program in the country. Rev. Abeoseh M. Flemister, Director of PIMIL and leader of the mission trip to Liberia, said the purpose of their visit was to build a relationship with the 156 voluntarily sponsored scholarship students in the country and explain what the program entails.
“The delegation is very impressed with what they have seen, and interestingly, every member of this dedication has individual sponsors. Churches have sponsors as well,” Madam Flemister told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview when she and her delegation visited the newspaper’s Paynesville premises. Rev. Flemister said the delegation also brought in a huge consignment of school supplies, to help children as part of its support for their education.
“We visited four places, including Monrovia, Robertsport, and Gbarnga. We also had workshops in every place visited, to allow the people to get an understanding of the ministry, what it is about and what is expected of those who are being helped. She said PIMIL currently has pending files of requests from parents who are desirous of being part of the initiative, but said it was difficult to promise everyone to be part of the program considering it is the result of voluntary sponsorship.
Madam Flemister said the support is considered as a scholarship assistance, because supporting a child to go to school was a bit challenging for anyone, considering her experience in Liberia. Since the founding, she said, the scholarship program has been opened to all God’s children and not from a particular school or church in Liberia. The initiative is about nation building, she added.
According to her, beneficiaries of the PIMIL are basically selected by the local priests in Liberia who usually sent contacts on the needs of a child or children, while others apply using the official website of PIMIL. During the Ebola Virus outbreak in Liberia, she said, “it was a priest who contacted the organization, calling for support to enable children to go to school and also provide other support needs.
“We offer basic education from primary to high school and also provide one year scholarship to university for those who graduate from high school. This is intended to allow them get their bearing, footing of where they want to go in terms of becoming a lawyer, nurse, teacher or accountant, among others. Some sponsors move beyond,” she said.
During our visit to beneficiaries of the scholarships, Madam Flemister said, “The students or beneficiaries were urged to continue their studies and will not be forgotten. We will continue the support, because we want them to be empowered.” According to her, those who have individual sponsorship are very fortunate, because many of the sponsors will decide to continue with the program beyond the one year at university.
To address Liberia’s weak or messy education system, Madam Flemister said library remains the tool for ongoing and sustaining education, noting that it will address the country’s “weak or messy” education problem. “We visited the Episcopal Elementary School in Robertsport and not a single book was on the shelf; and teachers even complained that people take away whatever books we get. So we need security to protect these books when provided,” she said.
Madam Flemister said there are future plans by PIMIL to invest in a library in the country, considering the importance to improving student’s knowledge and performance. PIMIL is collaborating to ensure the establishment of some libraries. Madam Flemister recalled that the Ministry started over 20 years ago in different stages during the civil crisis, which led to the death of over 250,000 Liberians, including her only brother.
“From my sad experience,” she said, “I began telling my story and sharing it with friends in the USA, and one of our members indicated that the death of my brother became a seed of this ministry and for the first time, I was able to connect in a very powerful and intimate way to the history of Liberia. This is an outreach program that is intended to provide scholarship assistance for children, including economically challenged children as the result of the civil war and others.
When something bad happened to you, you have two choices: either to go and continue in the way of the past or to make something come good after that bad experience,” Madam Flemister said. “We choose to go the right ways, because of what was happening. Many young people were conscripted in the war, called child soldiers. We know the level of injustice that was inflicted on Liberia and the level of devastation that we are still recovering from as a nation and people.
According to her, when the Ebola virus hit Liberia in 2014, “PIMIL got the news with people calling for support. We heard parents saying that their children were dying, so the Ministry continued to expand and reach out to people on how to alleviate poverty. As we moved telling the story about Liberia, different churches began to support the organization, to ensure that more children benefited. Many of our friends and partners asked to come see the children who are benefiting from the program,” she said.
According to her, the trip has been in the pipeline since 2009 and has today come to reality, with everyone celebrating the results coming from the children and the money and support in other areas so far. Jerrilynn Kaiser, Board member of PIMIL Council and sponsor of two PIMIL students, said she was pleased with the impact of the program and will continue to support Liberian students. “I am going back with a lot more understanding of the needs of the children and the country.
It’s one thing to be told and seeing is another thing. This increases my desire to help,” she said. Madeleine Trichel, PIMIL supporter from Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus , Ohio, who is a Sunday School Teacher, said her church supports five students “through our Sunday school children. “The children collect money one time in a month from the congregation and give to PIMIL for scholarships. We supported five students. We also sent money for a Christmas party for children.
We also sent money for solar power for 12 students in order to do their home work,” she noted. According to her, she was delighted in meeting the five children, including their parents, during her visit in the country and will deliver a good message about them upon her return to the US. Interestingly, “The children are so eager to learn. Some want to be lawyer, nurse, an agriculturist, priest, and social justice among others. We will support them through this basic education plus one year in higher education,” she said.
According to her, she was able to identify some of the challenges facing the children, and remains more committed to supporting them, adding: “I will work with my congregation to raise money and help with more children.” Also speaking, Mrs. Lubna Ahmad said, “We have a common goal of PIMIL because we believe that this is an interfaith project and calls for the need to serve humanity irrespective of religious differences.
We believe in the goal of PIMIL, which is to educate and fulfill the essential needs of those in education.” Mrs. Ahmad said she and her husband have already made a plan to sponsor three children, because of our great impression garnered from the children and their parents.