From Liberia with Love - Liberian children help typhoon-affected peers in the Philippines
MONROVIA, Liberia, 7 January 2014 – Liberia is one of the poorest countries in world with more than 60% of its 3.5 million people living on less than US$ 1 a day. For most Liberians, earning a living for themselves and their children is an everyday challenge. Most parts of the country, including its sprawling capital city of Monrovia, is grappling with insufficient water and electricity, poor infrastructure and limited services. All these are the legacies left behind by the 14 long years of a brutal and bloody civil war.
So it was both a humbling and an inspirational moment for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and UNICEF when the students and teachers of the Issac A David Senior Memorial School in Monrovia, donated 40,000 Liberian dollars (approximately 500 USD) as disaster relief assistance to victims and survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
“We saw the terrible destruction caused by the typhoon and so we all joined hands to help those in need,” said 12th Grader Zark Elisha Whapo. “Because of the war, many of us Liberians were in trouble and we received a lot of help from other countries and the United Nations. Helping others brings more happiness. There is joy when you give,” he added.
“I am sorry that children in the Philippines have to go through such tough times. I want them to take courage and look forward to the future,” he added.
Another 12th grader, Sonnie Lawarence said that she and her friends felt good to help people who were in need of support. “I want to tell all children affected by the typhoon to not give up your fight even if your homes are destroyed. Always be strong and know that people are there to help you,” she said.
Acting Principal Mr. Konah Parker said that the support was initiated by the administrators of the school and the students. “All students from Grades one to twelve agreed to pay US$ 1 from their school fees which added up to 500 USD. They heard and saw the terrible destruction caused by the typhoon. It reminded them about the troubles our own people had to go through during the war,” he said.
UNICEF Representative Mr. Sheldon Yett, who was also representing the UN country team in Liberia, personally visited the school to thank the students for their generosity, and to discuss with the students their role in disaster risk reduction and as agents of change in their own communities
“You should all be proud of your contribution. Your money is already making a difference for the children on the ground. You are an inspiration to young people in Liberia and beyond,” he said adding that the students' contribution was particularly meaningful given what the students had been through themselves and their understanding that they could play a positive role in helping meet the rights of children half way around the world.
Mr Yett said that given the vast scale of destruction in the Philippines, the country had huge funding shortages to meet outstanding needs for food, water, shelter and protection of thousands of children and that their contribution would be welcomed.
“We are motivated by the UN by coming here to our school to thank us for our support,” said Zark. “We wish we could do more,” he said.
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