Change Agent Network Partners with GGAA to Build an Education Village in Grand Gedeh County – FrontPageAfrica

MONROVIA – After toiling for more than 16 hours on muddy roads from Grand Bassa to Zewdru, Grand Gedeh County, a team from Change Agent Network (CAN) or Opportunity Network Liberia (ONLIB) arrived in the southeastern town of Zwedru , Grand Gedeh County to a warm welcome from citizens. The team left Monrovia on August 27 and returned on September 3, 2022, consisting of Dr. Stefania Forte, CAN Board Chair, and Mr. Eric W. Wowoh, Founder and Executive Director of the organization.

The visit, according to the Executive Director of CAN, was to update residents on the educational infrastructure development program in the county and to ensure that it is embraced, owned, operated, supported and protected locally by the direct beneficiaries.

“We decided to come and meet the people of the county. We cannot come here with any form of development without the knowledge, support, commitment and involvement of the local people themselves. The team met with the traditional council and county elders, youth, women, political leaders and others to share the message of the mission, vision and local ownership of this great program from the very beginning. We do this because if you don’t involve them from the start, it might be difficult to involve them at the end,” Wowoh said.

He disclosed that there would be two massive programs undertaken this year in the town of Zwedru namely: Resource Center for Women and Children and Grand Gedeh County Leadership Academy which would be owned, operated and supported by the Great Gedeh Association in the Americas (GGAA) and county citizens both at home and abroad. The GGAA provided 5 acres of land located in the community area of ​​Boleyville on the outskirts of the town of Zwedru for the construction of this incredible educational village. The deed and all legal documents for this property are in the name of the GGAA.

There will also be an extension of this great education program to Gbarzon district, particularly in the town of Zleh with a vocational school on 180 acres of land which has been provided by the local people themselves. The name of the school is Zleh Town, Gbarzon District, Academic and Vocational Village which will be built on 30 acres of land taken from the 180 acres of land that was donated. The remaining 150 acres of the property will be used for commercial agricultural purposes to generate funds to help support the program locally. The deed and all legal documents for this property are in the name of the Gbarzon District Association in the Americas (GDAA).

CAN’s executive director indicated that the projects will not be built solely by Change Agent Network on a dollar-for-dollar basis. “We have told both the Grand Gedean Association in the Americas (GGAA) and the Gbarzon District Association in the Americas (GDAA) that CAN will dedicate every donated dollar to building these two massive educational programs in the county. We are not going to do everything out of pocket. If, for example, GGAA contributes $10,000.00, we will contribute the same amount because it is their own work that we are helping to implement. We want you to own it,” he stressed. He added

Mr. Wowoh informed the citizens that labor for the project will be recruited exclusively from the county.

CAN’s board chair, Dr. Stefania Forte, said the organization’s engagement with the GGAA and GDAA did not come about on the fly, but following an invitation from the GGAA specifically to serve as a guest speaker at their 32nd Annual Convention held May 13-15, 2022 Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Change Agent Network has a strict policy that limits him to going to a space where he is invited only. According to her, the invitation to be a speaker resulted in a pseudo-invitation that provided an opportunity for conversation that would eventually lead to the building of a monumental education empowerment village that the county may not have. never seen before.

Dr Forte said the Grand Gedean Association in the Americas had previously considered erecting a statue in honor of former Liberian President Samuel Kanyon, but CAN suggested that, however good the statue project , there was a need to expand the impact of the memory of the former Liberian leader through education as this would align with CAN’s educational goals.

“So the idea of ​​the Grand Gedeh County Leadership Academy and the Grand Gedeh County Women and Children Resource Center initiated by the Grand Gedeh Women’s Initiative and the GGAA is a work of solidarity,” said Dr Forte.

She stressed that it is not “we who bring something to the county. It is we who work with the solidarity work of the county. The philosophy of our organization is “not charity but solidarity”. You meet us halfway to solve a problem but you also have expectations. So we’re here to get people to understand the vision and buy into it. Once people understand, we can continue. These consultations are important because we are making the proposal a reality. It’s tedious and a lot of work, but we’ve done it in other counties. So we’re delighted to be here.

According to her, the resource center for women and children will be the first time in the national framework that such a magnitude of space is available only for women and children and their needs to serve them.

“It would be an example for other counties to emulate. It’s not just schools and resource centers; these are historic landmark projects for the first time – because the school is not just a school but a university village. We will provide them with a quality education which, when they leave the county, will not fascinate them since they can say that they have had access to languages; I had access to e-learning, classical music and playing instruments. So when we talk about school, we don’t just bring school. We bring a solid academic experience to the child – experience that would likely be the county’s first time seeing. It’s not just passion but technical know-how. So we have this expertise because we have done it in other counties. We will have clinics, technical and professional training, a sewing program,” stressed Dr. Stefania Forte.

Superintendent Kai Farley expressed how impressed he was with what he had seen Change Agent Network had done in other counties when he met the team in court at his office.

“I want to emphasize that no one can do it for us but ourselves. It takes a person with a heart to do this job. I beg you to be an ambassador so that our brothers and sisters in the diaspora can see the need to return home to help with development. There is nowhere like home. We will give our full support,” Superintendent Farley said.

For her part, the Mayor of the City of Zwedru, Cecilia Harris-Jolo, indicated that she was very happy that CAN was collaborating with the Grand Gedean Association of the Americas considering undertaking such a project. “If I had my own will, I would even suggest that the project start today,” she added.

Grand Gedeh County Deputy Superintendent of Development, Betty Breeze Doh, mentioned that she was happy to receive the delegation, especially with such good news of planning to build a learning academy in Grand County. Gedeh.

“I heard about the Grand Gedeh Women project and stressed the need for community engagement to assess the real needs of the population. Then, the need for a quality educational institution became one. We need real schools. The learning environment in most of our schools is very poor. Many schools have overcrowded classes. We play too much with education in this country. When former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Liberia’s education system was a mess, she was right. It is indeed a waste,” Grand Gedeh County Deputy Superintendent for Development pointed out.

For the rural women of Grand Gedeh County Chairperson, Yesadea Barzon, the long silence of the GGAA and other diaspora county citizens was already seeding pessimism that no rural woman had given birth to a child who lives in the United States or other parts of the country. the world that would think of returning home.

“We wondered if any rural woman had given birth to children living abroad and managing to think of home. With our heart we welcome you. Thank you for reaching out to us and not meeting with the political leaders and stopping there. I wondered: as rural women, none of us give birth to a child or children in the United States and other parts of the world who would watch and remember the sacrifices their mothers made for take care of them through agriculture and other means? ” she affirmed.

Ms. Barzon noted that there was a time when women were forced to stay home while men went to school. Nowadays, according to her, this no longer happens. “Every rural woman is aware of her rights and educational opportunities are available for everyone,” the rural women’s leader told the visiting delegation.

She spoke as they sang: more men in front and women behind, together we will walk side by side. “As the women of Grand Gedeh, we are ready to work with you during the construction period,” she said.

The youths of the county implored the team to have single people responsible for ensuring that this project is implemented without setbacks due to mismanagement.

Youth coordinator Youseo Dehsuah pointed out that young people are begging our Diaspora parents to see reasons to come home and join hands to develop Great Gedeh and not come home as corpses.

Amid the resounding chanting of traditional slogans, the traditional leaders said the fact that the team came from far to the United States and traveled horrific roads to come to Grand Gedeh sends a message of commitment to the service. “The traditional rulers of Grand Gedeh County are ready to work with you to ensure the implementation of this project. We will work to ensure that every bottleneck is removed,” the group’s spokesperson said.

The change agent delegation also visited Zleh town in Gbarzohn district by bicycle as their vehicles could not survive the horrible road condition between Zwedru and Zai town. They were welcomed upon arrival by the townspeople, local government and traditional leaders.

It was announced that when all goes well, the school will be built and ready for academy activities by the 2023 school year.

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