As you know, Liberia has seen enormous damage in communities and individuals everywhere. The recovery of a destroyed Liberia requires concerted efforts on all fronts. Resurfacing roads, assisting with job creation, conducting workshops, or digging wells are all necessary but insufficient without working to resolve conflict and provide mental health and community intervention. A rural mother of three, traumatized by rape and/or the death of her husband, shackled by illiteracy, will not recover simply by employment and good access to the cities. Nor will her village. Community workers, trained and supervised by graduates of the Mother Patern professional social workers, will provide tools to help her work better with her family, her neighbors, and with her own internal roadblocks.
This is just the beginning of the Mother Patern BSW program. There is much work to be done. Most of our students will not receive their degrees and licenses until spring 2011. Her partner colleges, Kuyper and Calvin, have committed to provide more support, including sending instructors to liaison with the staff and teach courses. Someday we hope to exchange faculty and students, or at least have students from the US programs visit us.
For me, this is a huge moment. This is in part why I came; to help facilitate this event. But of course, it is not the biggest moment in my effort here. It is not, as the French would say, my raison d’être-- my “reason to be” here. My biggest moment will be on that rainy day in August 2011, when the first of many graduating classes march out of the Monrovia Pavilion, degrees in hand, on their way to help Liberians all over the country-- including that mother, her three children, and her village-- find their way to wholeness and freedom.
That is the reason I came.
The 2o first year BSW students plus most of the incoming students who just received their Associates degree in Social Work for a total of around 26. Pioneers all! The director of the program, Joseph Kpukuyou on the left, Yers Trooly on the right.