Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sarah's Last Reflections on her time at Camphor

The last several weeks have been full of events at the mission. During the week of July 12-16 My Daughter’s Place, the girl’s vocational school, held a workshop at the mission with students from other vocational programs in Buchanan and Monrovia. These programs are designed to give young adults a chance to learn cooking, tailoring, carpentry, computer skills and other trades so they can make a life for themselves, as many of them were unable to attend school while growing up during the Liberian civil war. It was a week of learning, sports, fellowship and fun. Our own Anthony Jackson and John Toe from the clinic also participated in the program doing HIV/AIDS and family planning education.

At the clinic we have been continuing with vaccinations; we just received a new supply of Pentavalent vaccines (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hepatitis B and H. Influenza) from the Ministry of Health in Buchanan, and we used it to have an infant vaccination outreach day at the Johnny Joe Town market. Sometimes the Ministry of Health runs out of vaccines and last week they (and we) were also out of the ACT (artemisinin combination therapy) tablets that we use as our primary treatment for malaria. The clinic has been using Quinine in these cases, which we is what we use as first-line therapy for malaria patients that are either pregnant or severely ill. Recently we added either Doxycycline or Fansidar when administering the Quinine, as it is more effective than the Quinine alone based on the reading and learning that I have done here and shared with the staff.

Paul recently took time to show me some sites outside the mission where Camphor has some revenue-generating projects in the works. One of these is the timber project, which is in partnership with Paul’s village of Goah-yah, about an hour’s drive from Camphor. From there it was a long hike out in the bush to the timber processing site; it felt like a real jungle trek! The workers often stay out overnight in the bush and all the timber that is produced has to be hauled out by manpower alone. The timber is used directly for building at Camphor and portions of it are also sold for profit by the mission and by the people of Goah-yah who own the land. I also toured the LAC (Liberian Agriculture Company) plantation, whose primary product is latex rubber. LAC has been involved with the mission through providing student scholarships and in assisting Camphor’s efforts to establish its own rubber tree farm. It takes about seven years for the trees to be mature enough to harvest the rubber, but it, along with many other projects, are part of a long-term plan to eventually make Camphor Mission self-sustaining. The LAC plantation itself is beautiful and we were able to tour the community there, including the tree farms, hospital, staff living areas and the club house, which is at the top of a hill with a fantastic view of Grand Bassa County.

Liberia celebrated its Independence Day on July 26th, and I spent the day with the Glaydors and Mary Gargar at the beach in Buchanan. We had a picnic of rice, cassava greens, and fufu with fish and pepper soup, and the weather was perfect- it didn’t even rain (all day!) In downtown Buchanan the streets were full of commotion; most businesses were closed except for a few restaurants and street vendors, but the streets were full of people enjoying the day dancing and celebrating.

My time here at Camphor is quickly coming to a close and I am thankful to God for the experience; it has been the fulfillment of a life-long goal for me. Although I am ready to go home and see friends and family again, in some ways I feel like I just started to really understand the culture and how I could best serve the mission, and with more time I could have made further progress. However, I have no regrets and I have made some cherished friends and have learned so much during my time here. I plan to remain in contact with Paul and to still be involved with the mission, and will hopefully be back to visit someday. An effort to raise funds for a new (used) vehicle for the mission is currently underway through the support of my friends, family and local church, so hopefully there will be a blog update on that front in the near future!
Peace and God Bless,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

News from the week of July 18th

The Camphor United Methodist Mission is a ministry of the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in an underprivileged village community in Grand Bassa County, Liberia. The Mission is providing education, health care, Christian discipleship and community empowerment etc. for village people and their children. It operates a Junior High school, a clinic, a church an agricultural program aimed at reaching financial sustainability, etc. The leadership plans to move the school Junior High school to full high school by 2012 due to increased in number of village children moving on to high school, whose parents cannot afford the cost of sending their children to big cities for high school. This will require attracting additional qualified teachers to move and settle on the Mission which is a predominantly village setting. Creating incentives such as good housing facilities, salaries, etc will help accomplish this. The housing project is therefore being looked at as a priority.

Partnering Church
Kathy spent a great morning of worship at the Geneva UMC, sharing the stories about Camphor Mission. A good contact was made with people who may want to travel to the Camphor Mission in 2011. News about other UMVIM trips to Russia, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe were shared. So many opportunities for mission and ministry in East Ohio Conference.

Strongsville UMC, Christmas in July
Camphor Mission was blessed with Christmas presents of school supplies, backpacks, educational board games, and other goodies as Strongsville UMC hosted a meal and information time to learn more about the Bishop 3C's Initiative. These items will be a part of other donations being sent to Camphor Mission early 2011 on a container. Kathy and Danny Dickriede shared about the ministry that they joined at the Camphor Mission. It was exciting to meet generous members of the congregation, people who were curious about what the UMC is doing around the world, and meet other people who had served on the mission field in the past. Strongsville has been long time supporters of retired GBGM missionary Beth Ferrell. Check out the for more information about Missions and UMVIM trips scheduled for the future. See the exciting ways you can be a part of the ministry in these places.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traditional Birth Attendants Refresher Training Workshop

The Traditional Birth Attendants refresher training Workshop at the Camphor Mission Station Clinic started from June 21-25, 2010. It was organized to provide follow-up training for the TBAs who are conducting most of the deliveries in the catchment area of the George Z. Dean Memorial Clinic.

The workshop brought together 52-participants with prior training from 40-villages plus 8-TBAs helper. However, the training was marked by many unprecedented events. During the opening, one of the TBAs felt off and was urgently rushed to the clinic. Thank God that she recovered within 3-hours. She was later sent to her village. Also, during the course of the exercise, one of the TBAs lost her baby. She was also sent back to her family. Still, another one lost her sister

The opening ceremony of the Refresher workshop was attended by the senior staff of the Camphor United Methodist Mission Station and some local authorities who expressed their full support for the overall continued conduct of the TBAs program in the catchment area.

The workshop was facilitated by two persons. The focus of the training was to educate the TBAs on how to prepare their report in order to facilitate a follow-up on whether they are doing well.
The Pre-test was an oral test. Its scores range from 0/10 - 8/10.

The following topics were facilitated under the indicated areas:
Traditional Birth Attendants Basic Information
Woman and Baby problems
Preventing problems

Woman Information
Bleeding too much
Sickness with pain and fever
Birth delay
Swelling and fits
Too many children/ family planning

Baby Information
Baby has trouble breathing at birth
Baby born too small
Baby is sick

General Health

Family planning
Child survival

Before the beginning of the trainings, the TBAs were asked to say their individual perspective of the program since it began. All of them recounted the many benefits their communities have enjoyed from the training. It was clearly revealed by the TBAs that the knowledge being acquired is helping them to address the challenges they meet on a daily basis as community Health Volunteers (CHV). The TBAs said the training is practical because what are being taught is encountered on a daily basis in their respective communities. However, they appealed to the LAC/UMC Health Program to obtain License for them to do legal practice. The TBAs also appealed for increase in the workshop’s stipend. In response to the appeal to raise the stipend given to them during the training, the Training Management said that the workshop is sponsored 100% by the Trinity Church while the Community is not providing any support. As such, they only need to make themselves available for the training in order to prevent maternal and new born death in the catchment area.

At the close of the TBAs refresher training, post-test was given. It was done orally, one at a time, with the score ranging from 4/10 - 8/10, the lower to the highest. The TBAs were very happy for the knowledge and expressed the importance of the report for deliveries.

There is still widespread involvement of the community ownership of the project as evidenced by the outcome so far.

However, there are still grave challenges that tend to undermine the successes being scored. The most of these challenges are the lack of safe drinking water, lack of mosquito nets, subsistence farming which do not provide financial income to the villagers, the bad road condition which can most often delay referral to the health centers and some villagers are still going to black baggers for purchase of drug, especially for pregnant women.

Recommendation from TBAs
Increment of stipend to 10USD
Construction of hand pumps in the villages
Distribution of mosquito nets in the villages
Up-grading of outreach program in the catchment area
Video for TBAs

Monitoring and Evaluation is still ongoing for TBAs in the catchment area every quarter.

Sanitation and health provided by Peoria UMC at Camphor

Construction of new latrines for clean sanitation began on Monday, the 4th of July. The first unit will hopefully be completed by tomorrow Monday, the 12th. Many thanks to Charles Bush and others at Peoria who continue to make improvements at the Camphor Mission Station a priority.

J.F. Yancy Elementary & Jr. High School Closing Exercises

Closing exercises of the J. F. Yancy Elementary & Junior High School at the Camphor United Methodist Mission was held on June 27. Eleven (11) kindergarten students were graduated to move to the elementary division. This was the first time for kindergarten graduation. Fifteen (15) ninth graders were graduated also to attend high school. Some students were awarded for resilience at their academic pursuits, good conduct and academic excellence, while others were expelled for gross indiscipline. Ms. Churchemar Krangar, a village girl who after being a mother of two children continued her education at the school until she graduated was honored for her determination. Student Alphonso Brown who also started as a kindergarten student and continued until he was graduated was also honored.

During the occasion, a “village girls’ education program targeted at getting a hundred and fifty (150) girls in school next academic year was launched. Launching the program, Madame Theresa Doegbah, Chief Executive Officer of Seatran Shipping & Stevedoring Company, who herself started her life as a village girl expressed her appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the leadership of the school in helping get village girls in school. She held the cheery congregation captivated as she told her own story; being an underprivileged village girl. Madame Doegbah then encouraged parents to send their school-aged girls to school as education could change their lives for better. Closing her launching statements, she offered to support student Churchemar Krangar in all of her high school academic pursuits and further donated a check of US five hundred dollars ($500.00) as initial contribution to Mission Support and Girls’ education at the Mission . Speaking also at the program was Mr. Edwin Nelson, Purchasing Manager of the Liberia Agricultural Company who also told his story being a village boy. Mr. Nelson highlighted ways in which the Mission could get support from his company and other local companies. In closing, he offered to sponsor student Alphonso Brown throughout high school and university, and donated a check of fifteen thousand (15,000.00) Liberian dollars on behalf of his family towards Mission support and village children education.

The District Superintendent of the St. John River District, Rev. G. Roosevelt Goah served as Guest Speaker. He spoke on the topic: “Focus on the Future with Hope”. Rev. Goah reminded the graduating classes that there is a future ahead of them that has hope, but it depends on the preparation they make for themselves today. He said their graduation from the J.F. Yancy Elementary & Junior High School was the first step they have made in preparing themselves for the uncertain future, and therefore they should be hopeful. He further admonished them to continue their academic pursuits.

Giving highlights of academic activities at the School for 2009/2010, the Principal and Mission Director, Paul J. Glaydor, Sr. said that out of 297 students who ended the school year, a total of 205 made strait passes (with no deficiencies) to various classes, 33 will attend vacation school to clear deficiencies and 53 failed. Mr. Glaydor then outlined plans for next academic year, which he said will include working towards attracting new and additional qualified teachers, introducing phonics as a course for the improvement of reading and spelling skills in the lower (kindergarten) classes and computer studies for middle and upper schools ( 4th to 9th grades). He also said that dormitory facilities and feeding will be improved.


SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2010

Madame Guest Speaker, Chairperson and members of the School Board, Members of the faculty Senate, the District Superintendent and officers of the St. John River District/UMC, Directress, Department of General Education and Ministry/the United Methodist Church, County Education Office/Grand Bassa County, Government Officials, Special Guests, Distinguished invitees, parents, friends and well-wishers Ladies and gentlemen.

It is my distinguished pleasure to present to you highlights of academic activities here at the J.F. Yancy Elementary & Junior High School, Camphor Mission for the academic period 2009/2010 which ends today, June 27, 2010.

We assumed leadership of the school on March 1, 2010 from a decision of the 177th Session of the Liberia Annual Conference held in Gbarnga in February of 2010 after briefly serving as Mission Station Superintendent for Camphor Mission. From the onset of this appointment to provide leadership of the school we saw the responsibility as a big challenge, and yet, an opportunity. It was a challenge considering the several limitations and conditions of scarcity under which we would have to operate the school. A ninety percent dependence on donors for financial support, insufficient facilities and programs to motivate teachers; including inability to pay salaries for some long periods, were some of our fears. Other specific concerns were getting community people to respond to the need for early learning and supporting the continuous education of their children, the effect of indigenous village community traditions on decisions of both parents and school-aged children on schooling, and the consequent low level of girls’ enrollment at school within this community, high poverty levels of parents that would not allow them to send their children to school etc. In all of these conditions however, we found an opportunity to respond to God’s call to serve a deprived community, a community that is left behind in the contest for education, health care and prospect.

Our first response to this call was to try to create a conducive environment in which children in this community will receive the kind of education that will make them capable of meeting the numerous challenges of life with confidence, despite any limiting conditions. This meant to us first, making frantic efforts to provide incentives that will improve learning and learning conditions. Establishing good relationship with villagers and encouraging them to send their children to school in time, adhering to prescribed curriculum, ensuring professional teaching skills and methods, improving students/ teachers’ and teacher to teacher relationship, addressing discipline issues, motivating teachers and support staff for increased productivity were laudable goals. We are pleased, Madam Chairperson, to report that much of these have fallen in place, and that is why we are here today. Many thanks to you and members of the School Board, our donors both local and overseas, the Department of General Education and all those who have lent helping hands.

Academic 2009/2010 began on schedule. The doors of the school were opened and classes began on September 1, 2009 with a total enrollment of three hundred and fifty (327) students. This number included two hundred and seventy (247) community (village) students and 80 boarding students. Sadly noted, the enrollment of girls was only twenty-six percent (26%) of the total enrollment. Out of the total enrollment, thirty (30) students dropped and one (1) was expelled for gross indiscipline. The school year ended therefore with a total of two hundred and ninety-seven (297) students.

Instructional Activities
Instructional activities were carried out throughout the period under the supervision of sixteen (16) teachers. The lower school (kindergarten) had five (5) self-contained teachers, whereas the middle and upper schools (Elementary & Junior High) schools jointly had eleven (11) teachers. The various instructional departments remained active during the period in report. Mathematics, science, language arts and social studies were given major attention considering that these subjects are the focus of national examinations and foundation for future academic pursuits and professional studies. Overall academic activities at the school resulted into a total number of two hundred and five (205) students making straight passes (with no deficiency) to various classes. A total of thirty-three (33) students who have deficiency in one subject were recommended by the Academic Committee for vacation school as prescribed by the Division of General Education and Ministry of the Liberia Annual Conference/UMC and a total of fifty-three (53) with deficiency in two or more subjects failed. In the category of those who passed, we will today be graduating fifteen (15) students ten (10) boys and five (5) girls) from Junior High School to enter high school, and eleven (11) students; nine (9) boys and two (2) girls from kindergarten to primary school. Madame Chairperson, the above statistics puts academic performance at the school at seventy-nine percent (79%) which is above average. Many thanks to our able teachers and support staff for working assiduously towards achieving these goals. We are also grateful to our parents for the level of support they gave us and their children during the academic period.

As part of instructional activities several workshops aimed at improving the instructional skills of teachers were held during the period in report. In furtherance to securing qualified teachers, a number of our teachers will be enrolling at teacher’s training institutes on an in-service basis. We are making special arrangements to ensure that after the completion of their studies, they will return to the school.

Campus life of students
As stated in our report on enrollment, there are a total of eighty (80) students that are boarding on campus; fifty-five (55) boys and twenty-five (25) girls. They are resident in two separate dormitories (boys’ dormitory and girls’ dormitory). The school has ably borne the responsibility of feeding, providing lodging, medical care and doing guidance and counseling. Madame Chairperson, we would like to report that our staff has not only seen these children as students, but as members of our various families because we realize that every child needs a parent, and that these children are away from their parents. During the period in report, cordial relationship existed between these students and our faculty and staff, including other mission personnel not connected directly with the school but who are staff of other projects at the Mission Station. The school has provided them a minimum of two meals per day, safe drinking water, given intermittent electricity, provided recreational and sporting facilities and activities, nurtured them in Christian discipline and discipleship. We proffer many thanks to all faculty members and mission staffs who have helped us maintained our children on campus.

Rewards and Discipline
It is good to give people their flowers while they are alive. The Holy Scripture also states that we should not spare the rod and spoil our children. The Camphor Mission Station is a place that provides secured learning environment, supports social transformation and encourages the molding of responsible character. On account of the aforesaid, some students will be receiving award for good character while others will be receiving notice of disciplinary actions including expulsion for gross indiscipline.

We like to note that discipline here at the Mission Station is intended to correct, and not to destroy. As such, we are very careful on the process that leads to taking disciplinary action against a student. The process for disciplining students begin with classroom punishment or “special attention”, and then to work punishment or counseling on second or repeated offenses. Suspension is the third alternative and then expulsion is the final option for continuous defiance. This process is prescribed by the Department of General Education and Ministry and is standard for all United Methodist Schools. A student will be expelled who has gone through the abovementioned stages of discipline and the school’s administration no longer sees any way that he/she can improve. Against this background, Madame Chairperson, the faculty senate and the Administration of the school have unanimously decided that seven students be expelled on account of gross indiscipline and glaring academic incompetence.

Our objective of deciding expulsion is to avoid such students influencing other students of good conduct, especially those sharing dormitory facilities.

On the other hand, awards will be given to students who have demeaned themselves during their entire academic sojourn here at the school. The process of giving award is based on collaborative reports of discipline and good conduct from a majority of instructors, other mission staffs, background checks with parents and community dwellers. A second condition is the resilience of students at academic pursuit and excellence; in spite of the many odds against which this underprivileged community is existing. The following students will receive awards for good conduct, academic excellence and resilience. They are:

1. Alphonso Brown(longest staying student – from ABC to 9th grade)
2. China Dossen
3. Isaac Yates
4. Churchemar Krangar (longest staying student – from ABC to 9th grade)
5. Christiana Brooks
6. Ruth Sayuo
7. Annie Nimene

Students Alphonso Brown and Churchemar Krangar will receive “Resilience Awards”, in addition to good conduct, and academic excellence.

2010/2011 In Preview
Madame Chairperson, we are pleased to inform you of the following goals that we have set for academic 2010/2011.

1. Staff Development: As we embark on moving the school to full high school beginning 2012, the prerequisites of improving the instructional skills of teachers will be of major interest during the next school year. We will be advocating for scholarships for teacher to advance their studies in teacher training institutions. We are pleased to report that some of our teachers are already ahead of this process. Three of them have been enlisted for study at the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute under a government sponsored program. We will also be advocating for improved facilities; housing, salaries, etc for teachers. This we believe will attract more qualified teachers.

2. Academic Activities: Considering that kindergarten and primary education are the foundation levels of any academic pursuits, we will give these areas much attention. Every academic shrewdness depends on its foundation. Improving reading, writing and spelling skills of the lower school will be focused. We have identified resource persons who will help us introduce Phonics as a subject for the next academic year. We are also making frantic efforts to introduce French during the next academic year as required by the Ministry of Education. Information technology (computer studies) will be introduced to the middle and upper schools (4th through 9th grades).

3. Boarding facilities: As we advocate for increase in student population for the next academic year, dormitory facilities will be improved and possibly extended to accommodate more students. Electrification of the dormitories has already begun to provide reasonable “lightning time” for study and other extra curricular activities scheduled during evening time. The feeding program will also be enhanced. We are anticipating providing three meals daily beginning academic 2010/2011.

4. Girls’ Education: Realizing the low level of girls’ enrollment at school in our country and specifically in this community, it is our intention to steadily increase the percentage of girls who come to school here at the Mission. We have targeted to recruit and enroll about one hundred and fifty (150) girls during the next academic year which will put the percentage of girls’ enrollment from 26% to at least 31% for the first time. This process will continue each year until we can hopefully narrow the gap to a reasonable proportion or attain a one to one ratio.

5. Extra Curricular Activities: Madame Chairperson, subject to the School Board’s approval, we will create a Department of Extra Curricular Activities in the school that will focus on occupying the “out of classroom” time of the students with meaningful activities. These activities will include sports and recreation, academic clubs, press clubs, drama clubs, devotional and spiritual growth programs to include Bible study groups and evening services, choir, and etc.We have realized that when children are kept idle, they find anything to do. It is our responsibility as school administrators to give direction to what students do while here on campus.

6. Discipline: The United Methodist Church and the United Methodist School System give us the charge to develop in students Christian principles and moral standards. Doing this will require relentless efforts to keep a well demeaned student population. In order to ensure this, students and parents will jointly be required to sign a “behavior bond” prior to admission. In addition, our discipline process as prescribed in the Handbook of United Methodist Schools will be strictly adhered to. Students who are found to be grossly indiscipline and perform very poorly in their academic activities will be expelled.

Madame Chairperson, distinguished guests, parents, in closing, we wish to extend many thanks to our students, parents, donors and all who helped in making academic 2009/2010 a smashing success. As we will embark upon the journey into 2011/2012, it is our hope that you will continue to give us your support and cooperation so that together, we will mould the minds of your children, in order that our homes, our church and society will be better places to be. Long live the J.F. Yancy Elementary & Junior High School, long live the Camphor United Methodist Mission.

God bless you.

Submitted: Paul J. Glaydor, Sr.