President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed delight at the exceptional work being done at the Liberia Mission and especially the skills they are imparting in the young people of this country.
“I just want to say how pleased we are to have a group of young people like you that have come together and are applying your time learning a profession and doing well; being able to prepare yourself for leadership of the country; and the way you are doing it is so different and so pleasing,” the Liberian leader told the crowded assembly during a familiarization visit.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the comments during a pre-Christmas visit to the school’s campus in Caryesburg District.
President Sirleaf praised further the efforts of the volunteer staff, headed by Joseph Sehnert, who is also the mission director and a Lay Franciscan Missionary, for bringing up these young students in the way they should go and prepare themselves. Mr. Stanley Maticka, also a volunteer staff, is chief operating officer.
She also commended the principal of the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, Rufus P.K. Sayemie and the dean of the residential, student work and agriculture program, Alpha John Roland, for the exceptional work they are doing in preparing the young students towards a brighter future.
The Liberia Mission which has as its motto: “God-Education-Work” was founded on November 3, 2003 with seven children. The Mission is funded and supported by Franciscan Works of Chicago, Illinois and runs on an annual budget of US$275,000, with US$215,000 as operational cost; while the average per residential student is US$2,047 per annum. There are currently 105 (75 boys and 30 girls) beneficiaries; but presently 75 students are on campus due to the Ebola crisis. The rest will return when government lifts the ban on educational activities.
The Mission runs a school and residential program. The residential program includes the students’ work and an agriculture program.
Under the education program, the Mission runs the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School from grades K-1 to 9th. All 9th grade students in the school made a 100 percent pass in this year’s WAEC exams. Of the 105 beneficiaries, 60 attend the campus school, St. Anthony; while 30 of those beyond 9th grade attend the Booker Washington Institute; five attend St. Kizito Catholic School in Paynesville; while 10 have passed the 12th grade WAEC exams and are seeking a university education when school resumes.
Under the work program, the students work 20 hours a week with a monthly salary of LD$3,500. The program offers skills development and training in plumbing, masonry, electrical and civil engineering, cooking, animal husbandry, horticulture, small machine repair, painting, carpentry, tile installation, among others.
The Mission operates on 25 acres of land, with five acres used for infrastructure and the rest for farming. Currently, the farm raises 170 pigs, 105 laying chickens, 16 ducks, 10 goats, 4 sheep, 4 cows, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 donkeys, 1 monkey and a red duiker deer.
In addition, the farm has about 5,000 cassava plants, 340 water melon, 150 okra plants, bitter ball, palava sauce, cucumber, and eggplant farms.
During the tour of campus, President Sirleaf was presented a number of gifts, including fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and a chicken which she in turned purchased. They also have pigs for sale at very reasonable prices.
As is usual during the festive season, the Liberian leader presented the Mission with an assortment of gifts including some cash to enjoy a Merry Christmas.