Fighting a pandemic is daunting for any community. But, what if you must hike to a well multiple times a day just to meet your family’s basic needs? How much of that water are you going to want to use for frequent hand washing? How likely are you to spend money on soap when you barely have enough for food? Social distancing? Is that even possible in crowded markets where daily trips are necessary due to lack of refrigeration? Hand sanitizer? Disinfectant? What are those and where do you get them? You can understand the challenges in preventing the spread of disease in developing countries.
It is not possible for most schools to go online. The majority of students do not have power or internet in their homes. With churches closed, online services are not an option and many are unable to read the Bible for themselves.
“Surviving a pandemic in Africa looks much different than in America.” shares the Executive Director of Innovative Education International (IEI), Gary Friesen.
Since 2015, our partner IEI has been bringing Christ-centered educational programs to secondary schools in Liberia. Within three years they helped Sinoe county jump from #11 to #1 on the West African Examination Council exam. Since then, they have expanded into other counties in Liberia providing their signature SmartBox, an “instant wireless classroom” that functions as a computer lab and digital library of educational resources.
With schools presently closed due to the country-wide lockdown and communities suffering economically, the ministry’s focus has shifted. National team members are delivering bags of rice to needy families including the local disabilities center where residents are most vulnerable. The team is sewing and distributing masks for the community. Anticipating a shortage of food in the months ahead, IEI is expanding their gardens and raising goats and chickens.
Friesen summarizes their effort which may look different on the outside, but is the same at its core, “Our goal – a measure of economic self-sufficiency and the means to bless our neighbors as we share the gospel of Christ in word and deed.”
Written by Erica Simone