Character Solutions in Liberia
Cultivating Character / Character Education
“In the year 1822 a weary group of seasick travelers survived their eastward journey across the Atlantic Ocean from North America and established a small settlement on a tiny, tropical island along the Atlantic coast of Western Africa. Populated by freed slaves from the United States, that settlement was the seed that grew in 1847 to become the Republic of Liberia—Africa’s first republic—whose name means “Land of the Free.” With just over 3 million people, Liberia’s population is similar to that of Montreal in Canada. Its area of 111,370 square kilometers is comparable to the state of Tennessee.
“Three prolonged and violent civil power struggles between 1980 and 2003 reversed decades of progress. Conflicts and carnage devastated the country, causing many Liberians to flee their “Land of the Free.” So decimated was its infrastructure that basic services such as water and electricity are still unreliable. The median age in Liberia today is 18. The life expectancy at birth is 38 years for men and 41 years for women.
“But a new day is dawning for Liberia. The nation again made history in 2005 by electing Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President. She is the first elected female head of state in Africa. In January I had the privilege of presenting the Mission To Children’s character education program, Character Solutions, to the President and her Cabinet. Their genuine interest and warm response led the President to extend our time so that all Cabinet members could ask questions and make comments.
“One Cabinet minister insisted that we make that same presentation at a conference of 290 people the following Saturday. These people work with youth in 63 communities—about 14,500 children. We did so, and their enthusiasm for our program matched that of the President’s Cabinet, giving our future ministry strong support at the highest level of government and the most grassroots level of service.”
-Dr. Skip Garmo, President, CSI
This past Febraury 2009, Mr. Sam Hare, Deputy Minister for Youth Development (MYS) made some remarks on the relationship between Character Solutions, REAP, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports: “Our MYS relationship with CSI and REAP is crucial. We need these new approaches to make the differences, the changes, that are necessary.” Minister Hare spoke enthusiastically about the teamwork of MYS/REAP/CSI that made this week of training possible and about the significant impact it can have on Liberia's youth. He also presented “three Cs” that are important in the new Liberia: competence, character, and contribution. "Contribution" means serving our communities rather than sitting on the sidelines and expecting others to do all the work.
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February 21, 2009
CSI presented to 116 Liberian street children. Team facilitators included youth workers from all over Liberia
August 14, 2007
Dr. Garmo presented CSI materials to 69 orphans and caregivers from various orphanages around Monrovia, Liberia.
August 15, 2007
Dr. Garmo presented CSI to 69 student council leaders from private and public schools around Monrovia, Liberia.
August 16, 2007
Dr. Garmo presented CSI to 37 youth organizational and community leaders.
August 17, 2007
Dr. Garmo presented CSI to 25 university professors.
August 18, 2007
Dr. Garmo presented CSI to 31 religious professionals.
January 22-27, 2007
Dr. Garmo went to Liberia January 22-27, 2007 and 450-478 participants were impacted including: educators, church leaders, orphan care givers, community leaders, instructors at the National Police Academy, instructors of the military, staff of the National Immigration, the entire staff of the NCDDRR, and 290 community youth leaders.
Monday, January 22nd—CSI Presentation to Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia
Dr. Garmo presented an hour-long CSI overview to the President, the Cabinet, the Vice President, and heads or representatives of several other ministry divisions or NGO’s including the Ministry of Education. The entire session was filmed by a company doing a documentary on the president’s first year in office.
Tuesday, January 23rd—CSI Seminar
The Deputy Minister of Education made opening remarks to about 45 people and spoke very highly of the CSI program and the importance of good character. She had attended the CSI presentation on Monday.
Wednesday, January 24th—CSI Seminar
This group included the head of an association of about 40 orphanages who was very interested in what CSI is doing. He may take a leadership role in implementing CSI in these orphanages. 54 people attended.
Friday, January 26th—CSI Seminar
This seminar was held at the center for retraining and rehabilitating child soldiers (NCDDRR). In Liberia they are dealing with around 100,000 kids (or now adults) who have been child soldiers in the past and need to be retrained to reenter society. The entire staff of the DDRR attended. About 10 members of the National Police Academy also attended. 44 people attended the seminar.
Saturday, January 27th—CSI Seminar
Dr. Garmo presented a CSI overview to a group of more than 290 youth workers from 63 communities in/near Monrovia who work directly with the youth of Liberia. Each of the 290 influence about 50 youth, reaching 14,500—including the two-thirds of Liberian children who do not attend school.
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