Areas of Impact
As Liberia struggles to recover from the impacts of civil war, ineffective government policies, and more recent effects of the Ebola and COVID-19 crises, there are numerous obstacles between children and classroom learning. Gbarnga Mission is dedicated to providing a Christian education to help students and families develop long-term solutions and skills needed to be successful, grow strong in faith, and reach their God-given potential as fulfilled Christian adults.
By focusing on these four Areas of Impact, we are working together with community members to address needs such as clean water, sanitation, electricity, hygiene, nutrition and other inequities of poverty as we strive to minimize barriers to a child's education.
Pre K - 12th Grade and Liberia Reads! Literacy Program
Our primary focus is primary and secondary education. Because reading and writing are critical foundational skills, we emphasize literacy through our partnership with the Liberia Reads! program that trains our teachers in effective teaching techniques that engage our students in exciting and interactive classroom learning. Because of pervasively low literacy among older students, GLTC is building a school community from preschool and adding a grade each year.
Adult Literacy Classes
Though slowly improving, the adult literacy rate in Liberia is 63% for males and 34% for females – highlighting one of the many gender disparities. Gbarnga Mission recently installed solar panels on our school and began adult literacy classes – in the evening so it doesn't interfere with income-producing work during the day. A 52-year old woman student learned to write her name for the first time in her life. Another is practicing to be a lay reader at church. Literate parents are better equipped to support their children's school work, creating a culture of family literacy.
We are committed to providing quality education. Our compassionate Christian teachers have appropriate instructional materials and work in a supportive and mentoring environment. Ongoing training expands and hones their expertise, particularly in methods that are not commonly used in Liberia such as project-based learning and critical thinking skills. We support advancing their education through outside resources such as the teacher training institute in Gbarnga. Our teachers are also members of the Association of Literacy Educators in Liberia.
Unemployment is very high in Liberia. Adults and high school graduates need skills that are immediately relevant and needed in the community. As our school grows, GLTC will offer vocational education for our students. Vocational training in Hydraform blockmaking has already been offered and we are laying the groundwork for a class in tailoring and poultry farming.
Liberia's 14-years of civil war destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, including schools. Gbarnga Mission is constructing a much-needed school in the community of Deanville on the outskirts of Gbarnga. Located in this rural community, GLTC offers a better quality education than government schools, reduces the 45-60 minutes children spend walking each way to Gbarnga, and minimizes the danger of unattended young children traveling along the highway.
Gbarnga Mission leveraging Liberia's abundant sunshine by harnessing solar power. A solar-powered pump supplies the entire campus with clean drinking water. Photovoltaic panels on the school provide lighting for evening adult literacy classes and security at night. Electricity in the administration office allows the Principal to run laptops and charge phones. Capacity for electricity in the classrooms will be added as the school grows.
Hand Pump Rehabilitation
When well pumps are in disrepair, unhealthy alternatives like river or swamp water become de facto water sources. We help repair and rehabilitate existing hand pumps to get clean water flowing again.
Church Support & Bible Distribution
We work closely with the Lutheran church in the center of Deanville Community to support their ministry and outreach efforts. Hundreds of Bibles have been distributed to its members and other local churches. Good News Bibles are being used as part of the Adult Literacy program as well. We recently supported critical roof and structural repairs to the mud block church building.
Much of the agriculture and livestock industries were decimated during the civil war. The majority of chicken eggs on the market today in Liberia are imported from Brazil or Eastern European countries. Responding to a demand for locally grown eggs, Gbarnga Mission partnered with Rotary International and BRAC to start a poultry farm. Our goal is to sell eggs as an income source to help the school become financially self-sufficient while providing jobs for local villagers. Eventually, eggs will be a protein-rich part of the school lunches served to our students.
The GLTC Guesthouse was constructed to provide rental income to support school operations and employment for local caretakers. Guests have included local Liberians and international travelers visiting the rural areas of Liberia. The Guesthouse is often used to house visiting missionaries. Guests can make reservations on AirBnB.
Gbarnga Mission is developing a range of entrepreneurial ventures on the GLTC campus in our pursuit of long-term sustainability. Over 20 members of the local community were trained in machine operation, production, and construction techniques for Hydraform interlocking soil cement blocks. Our school buildings are constructed using these blocks. We hope to develop this into a small business, job producer, and vocational training opportunity.
Our 15-acre campus has ample undeveloped land for growing things Liberians love like potato greens, cassava, and peppers. GLTC staff and community members work together to harvest fresh crops to augment our school lunch program. We've started a new initiative to grow corn which will be converted into poultry feed by one of our Christian partner organizations about an hour north.
Water is life, especially in Liberia where water-borne diseases like typhoid affect the well-being of our families – especially children who not only suffer from frequent illness but also miss important days of school. Water from our bore hole well runs through a chlorination system and fills the campus water tower with clean, safe drinking water for our students and staff. A second well with a hand pump provides water for community access – helping keep children healthy and in class.
Eight in ten Liberians have no decent toilet – many just go in "the bush" instead. Open defecation, as this is known, spreads disease and contaminates nearby ground water sources. Our school has modern bathroom facilities with toilets, sinks, and running water. Hand washing education and soap distribution in conjunction with Clean the World Foundation reinforces healthy personal hygiene habits among our students.
Malaria is endemic in Liberia and continues to be a major cause of death for children under age five. Gbarnga Mission works with local partners to educate about malaria prevention, dispel myths about its causes, and distribute insecticide-treated bed nets to all households in our community. In cooperation with a Ministry of Health initiative, all of our students are also participating in a deworming clinic to eradicate intestinal parasites, another consequence of living in poverty.
Almost one-third of Liberian children under five are stunted due to poor nutrition, limiting their ability to reach their full potential. GLTC serves a nutritious lunch each day to help our students improve brain development – and combat poor concentration that comes from studying on an empty stomach. Fish for protein and fresh vegetables grown in our campus garden fortify our students for learning the best they can.
During a recent Deanville community meeting, many of the adults attending our literacy class shared the need for reading glasses. With support of donors and connections through the Rotary and Lion's Club in Liberia, Gbarnga Mission coordinated a community-wide eye clinic. Numerous people were examined of whom 90 received free reading glasses, 50 adults and children received eye medications, and others were referred for further surgical procedures – turning your gifts into the gift of sight!