Eighty year-old African-American missionary Shirley Richards has rededicated her life to charity in Liberia and mainly in communities where vulnerable women and children are finding it difficult to meet their daily needs.
Mrs. Richards is a U.S. citizen residing in Texas, but who often visits Liberia as well as other African countries where she contributes to the well-being of people whose life circumstances have placed them far below the poverty index, as recorded recently by a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) survey.
The octogenarian (a person in their eighties) informed beneficiaries of the Rock Hole neighborhood of ELWA, Paynesville, that she and her husband Robert Richards first visited Liberia as missionaries of the Church of Christ Holiness in 1975, at which time the country had reached its present level of development.
Mrs. Richards’ exercise on Monday benefited over 100 community inhabitants, many of whom were the less fortunate.
“My late husband and I have visited Liberia several times before and after the country’s 14-year war. This trip, I believe, is my 27th to Liberia with other friends, who also did some good jobs on our behalf,” she said.
She noted that her desire to be a kind giver is an “act of defining Christian life from being a church member to a caregiver, lover of humanity and one who empathizes with those in need.”
Some of the items Mrs. Richards presented and which targeted about 100 persons, included solar lights, used clothes, and a 25kg bag of rice to a family of five, so that God takes charge and elevates their living standards.
“I do not see myself as benefactor whenever I share whatever items with people, but as God’s privileged individual among many others who could do better than I. I am happy and pray that the socioeconomic condition of these people, including children, are improved,” she said.
She recalled that when former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf received her Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, the president appealed to Liberians in the Diaspora to come to Liberia and invest or share their gains with the many struggling families.
Mrs. Richards recalled how during the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak she had 106 students on a scholarship program, a farm in Caldwell, and a parcel of land in Paynesville earmarked for a school.
“The scholarship program and the farm could not continue, owing to my age now. No one has been there to come and take over from me,” she said, adding that maintaining a scholarship program goes beyond payment of fees.
According to her, she invested a little over US$7000.
As done before for two other ladies, Mrs. Richards made a commitment to improve the petty trading businesses of fish seller Comfort Juah and Mary Browne, a fufu seller, by providing money to buy their goods.
She called on beneficiaries to improve their little businesses but not to sell the gift items.
Deborah Garto, 65; Janet Bondo, 42; and Patrick Sumo, 38 — all recipients — expressed gratitude to Mrs. Richards for being kindhearted to residents of poverty-stricken communities.