So our first year is “fini.” True, we have been here a year and a half, but the first few months were all about getting accustomed to life on the West African coast. 2006 saw adjustment, and we began in earnest what we came here to do. For those of you who wonder what we do here besides hang around the porch and collect animals, here is a list of activities that kept us feeling useful in 2006. For those of you who support us in any way, from the US, Canada, or Liberia, include yourself in the “we.” Some of you may have seen a similar list in our Christmas letter. If so, feel free to feel good all over again. Working together, "we..."
* helped facilitate a budding partner relationship between Calvin and Kuyper Colleges with Mother Patern College of Health Sciences working to develop Liberia’s first professional social work program.
* trained through LEAD 90 businesses in three twelve week courses, distributed business loans and saw new jobs created.
* developed and taught 3 new college courses for the upcoming Mother Patern BSW curriculum.
* Worked with the Liberian Ministries of Health and Education, to forward key progress toward improving national mental health standards and service for the future.
* assisted in the creation of community development association in our area— The Foster Town Community Development Association. (FoCDA). Three community workshops were offered by FoCDA, with attendance over a hundred at each. More coming.
* are lending our heads and hands as the community establishes a market. Currently people travel miles to get daily food; donations from Madison members have been used to secure land and start building a structure and tables-- allowing many to shop near home.
* taught and trained in a dozens of workshops, ranging from two hours to two weeks long, offered to hundreds of people in settings throughout Liberia—topics: counseling skills, psychosocial skills, classroom management, phonics, teacher/student and teacher/parent relationships, Reformed theology, alleviating poverty, starting a business, church leadership.
* participated in establishing neighborhood watch groups, in partnership with the local police station.
* are helping facilitate partnerships between 2 local schools and Millbrook Christian and Beaver Dam Christian in Michigan. Letters exchanged, money raised for school improvements.
* providing ongoing monthly support of local orphanage: school scholarships and uniforms plus food money for 37 children.
* raised funds for two new roofs—one on a local church, the other on a local home, and a new pump-head for a neighborhood well.
* established a new community library (our living room) – at least 30 books and games loaned weekly to neighborhood kids.
* are sponsoring and lending our enormous athletic talent to the Eleven Dangerous Dwarves – the local boy’s soccer team.
* have placed hundreds of band-aids placed on cuts, given out thousands of pinches and administered countless “conks” to dozens of little heads.
* distributed scads of clothing, Bibles, books, toys, educational materials, loans, school scholarships, gifts to families for various needs (funerals, sickness, housing, etc.).
We have said it before many times. The Reeds are in Liberia as servants, mostly doing what we can to help others—from the US, Canada, and Liberia—as they work to rebuild this nation. I think of us all as builders and farmers, creating structures for the future, planting crops that produce for many years to come. We are in this together, and we are humbled to be a part of the effort.
May 2007 see more building, more planting, and more fruit.
Happy New Year!