Success = the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status
Consult the dictionary and you’ll find a definition of success that sounds familiar to most of us. We are measured by this definition at every turn. What school did we attend? Where do we vacation? What do we drive? What is our job title?
In developing parts of the world, including Liberia, success is defined differently.
Success = getting an education
Let’s consider what success might look like through the eyes of a Liberian student. If you can travel safely to school, wear a clean uniform, own a backpack and school supplies, eat at least one meal a day, and be in good enough health to learn - you are deemed successful.
By this measure, students sponsored through Keyara’s Gift have been wildly successful! Even with Covid shutdowns, 104 out of our 105 students were promoted to their next grade. (The single exception was a student, battling a complex medical issue that required hospitalization, who missed too much class to advance.)
Success = the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
Over the next few weeks we want to celebrate our students' success, introduce you to specific students, dive deeper into the nuances and realities of their hard-earned accomplishments, and thank YOU for making it possible.
Through this Fall campaign, our own standard for success will be to raise enough support ($425/year) for each of the 110 hopeful students, eagerly awaiting their chance at an education, their chance at success.
To those of you who have already given, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for choosing to invest in the life of a Liberian child! We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to help bring hope to Liberian children!
With all our thanks,
Karen and Kreig Ecklund
Founders - Keyara's Gift
"Look both ways."
"Wait for the light to change."
"The crossing guard will help you across."
"Don't forget your bike helmet."
"Stay in the crosswalk."
These refrains are typical for American school kids to hear on a weekly, even daily basis, as they make their way from home to school. Liberian students don’t have the same benefits of an infrastructure or the economic security that would put their “safety first”.
Approximately eighty percent of our students live in a household with only one caregiver who leaves home early in the day in order to make ends meet. That means young kids are on their own to make their way to school. With the vast majority of roads un-policed and unpaved, crowded with speeding cars in varying stages of disrepair, and flooded during monsoon months, their daily commute is perilous!
Getting to the Starting Line.
Fortunately, there are specific ways your sponsorship impacts the safety, learning, and well-being of our students, including:
Local Enrollment: We strategically try to enroll students in schools close to their homes, so they can walk to school.
Safe Environment: Kids in school means kids off the street - keeping them engaged and learning in a supervised and safe environment.
Encouragement & Oversight: Student Case Workers advocate for our students by checking-in, on a weekly basis, with each student. They ensure attendance is regular, homework is being done, students are equipped - and maybe most importantly, they advocate for students with teachers and administrators, especially when a caregiver might be unable to do so.
Francis lives with his single mother and eleven other siblings and dependents. After getting himself and his younger brother ready, Francis and Daniel walk 20 minutes to school where they enjoy reading, writing, history, math and PE. His Case Worker, Goldy, visits weekly and helps with his lessons but also takes the time to hear about Francis’ everyday interests, concerns, and health. If he is sick, she will make sure he is seen by a doctor.
On behalf of the 110 students, eagerly hoping to attend school in November, we thank you for considering sponsorship! For only $425/year you are giving them a glimmer of what “Safety First” can mean.
"Dress for Success!"
This adage was first made popular by a 1975 best-selling book, of the same title, in which the author John T. Molloy discussed the effect of clothing on a person’s success. If you dress the part - you’ll internalize and reflect confidence - making your projected identity a reality.
What was true in 1975, is true now. We all feel great when we are dressed well. Our sponsored students are thrilled, at the beginning of each school year, to don their school uniforms, without which they can’t attend school. No uniform, no school! Sadly, the cost of both school fees and uniforms is often a barrier of entry for many school-aged kids.
Back-to-school shopping for our sponsored students includes a trip to the market for a pair of shoes, a trip to the tailor for two customized uniforms that match the style and color of each particular school, and finally a backpack with pens, pencils and composition books. Each student also receives a uniform for PE. Without their Keyara’s Gift clothing stipend, school wouldn’t be possible.
Bendu was only two years old when her father died, leaving her to be raised primarily by her grandmother, who was already struggling to support other family members. As a young child Bendu worked hard to help with household chores - including the very labor-intensive process of doing weekly laundry (fetching and heating water, manually washing and rinsing clothes, and hanging them to dry).
Imagine Bendu’s delight, when eight years ago she began attending school, sponsored by Keyara’s Gift. Now that weekly laundry included her two school uniforms and PE outfit! With school fees, uniform, and supplies covered - Bendu enjoyed the privilege of learning. Reading and science are her passion and now that she has graduated from 12th grade in August, she would love to pursue a career in nursing.
Without your help, Bendu wouldn’t have a uniform, nor a seat at the table of learning. Your help became her hope. Thank you!
So far in this campaign, we have raised enough funds to send 32 students to school this year. We have 78 more students, eagerly hoping to also be sponsored for only $425/year. Will you please consider helping other students, like Bendu, experience what it means to literally and figuratively “dress for success”? If you are able to give by Thanksgiving, we have a generous donor who is willing to match your donation, up to $5,000, doubling the impact!