Global partnership inspires self-help projects

Four years ago, St. John’s, Worthington, embarked on a project to help repair the Episcopal Elementary School in Robert’s Port, Liberia. The school was severely destroyed and ransacked during Liberia’s long civil war (1989-2003). The building was unfit; yet, because of the dire need for education, the school’s authority continued to conduct classes there for the children of the 10,000 resident community.

Episcopal Elementary School

The Episcopal Elementary School in Robert’s Port, Liberia

There were no doors in the building and the window panes were all broken. During tropical storms, puddles were left in the classrooms. Children found themselves sitting two and three to a chair, while others trekked the mountain with chairs on their heads in order to provide seating for themselves. Learning of this need, St. John’s decided to respond to the education needs of the children by donating the parish’s Millennium Development Goals funds toward improving the repairs of the school.

You may recall that the General Convention of The Episcopal Church in 2006 passed a resolution of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals adopted for the world in 2000. The goals were designed to make a positive difference in the 196 world nations. The implementation of the goals was for fifteen years. The Episcopal Church resolution called for the nearly 7,154 congregations to donate the 0.7 percent of their operation budget toward any of the goals. These goals

are:

• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

• Achieve universal primary education

• Promote gender equality and empower women

• Reduce child mortality

• Improve maternal health

• Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

• Ensure environmental sustainability

• Develop a global partnership for development.

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Students at the Episcopal Elementary School

In a collaborative effort with the administration and students of the school in Robert’s Port over three years, desks were provided for each child to have a seat, and steel doors and windows were installed. Inspired by the benevolent action of St. John’s, the teachers and staff of the school took on self-help projects in order to enhance the administrative operation and comfort of the school. They provided a joint room for the principal’s and registrar’s office and a teacher’s lunch lounge.

The United Nations, no doubt, will evaluate the accomplishment of the eight Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015; and, conceivably, the Episcopal Church will too. It is commendable to note the efforts of a parish in the Diocese of Southern Ohio toward accomplishing a goal. This does not discount the efforts of other congregations of the diocese as well. Referencing St. John’s parish, certainly, these self-inspired actions on both sides: St. John’s, Worthington and the Episcopal Elementary School, Liberia are truly remarkable and do demonstrate evidence of global initiative and empowerment in mission and ministry.
Abby Flemister serves as the director of Partners-in-Ministry-in-Liberia (PIMIL), a ministry of St. Matthew’s, Westerville.