The First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell is sponsoring a Mission Trip to African Dream Academy (ADA), Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa
For high school students and adults from the churches and synagogues who belong to the West Essex Ministerial Association (Children of any age are welcome if accompanied by a parent.)
This one-week trip will take place over spring break 2024 (Monday, April 1 to Monday April 8 or leave Easter Sunday evening) When we leave and return also depends on flight availability, which cannot be predicted now.
Organized by Lydia Spinelli, Elder at First Presbyterian and President of the African Dream Academy Foundation. She has been to visit ADA seven times. For questions, email her at email@example.com
Photos of High School students visiting ADA https://photos.app.goo.gl/hXnqpF441rZWLNEY7
Why visit Liberia when there is so much poverty in the US?
- Liberia is very much tied to slavery in the US. In the 1800’s the American Colonization Society sent the freed slaves to Liberia. They became the monied and politically powerful class. Over time, the indigenous Liberians became increasingly resentful leading to a civil war from 1989-96 and another from 1999-2003. The country’s infrastructure was completely destroyed and it is still slowly building it back. Many live without electricity and running water. The US has a special responsibility to Liberia. Liberia is one of the 8 poorest countries in the world.
- In the US, poor people still have an infrastructure: electricity, running water, widespread public transportation and free public schools. Liberia does not have any of those.
Why visit African Dream Academy? https://www.africandreamacademy.org/
- Liberia does not have free public schools. African Dream Academy is a tuition-free independent school.
- ADA provides lunch, uniforms and transportation as well as an education.
- ADA provides a full day of school whereas public schools only offer a half day.
- ADA has a computer lab and science lab, probably the only science lab in a school in Liberia.
- Students start each day with devotions including a Bible verse.
- In 2016, only one of 42,000 students passed the pan-African exam for graduation. Analysts believe that civil war, poverty and unemployment have contributed to the massive exam failure in the West African country. Lack of basic education facilities like classrooms, books and teaching staff have further worsened the situation. ADA has graduated its first two classes. All the ADA students passed the pan-African exam.
- ADA is one of the few if only non-profit schools that has grown 1200% in 10 years (from 144 students to 1800 students) from one building on rented land to 3 buildings on land it owns.
- ADA has a technical school for parents. When the students leave for the day, parents come in to learn computer skills, catering, tailoring, interior decorating, hairdressing, beauty care, soap making, driving, air-condition and refrigeration repair, carpentry, electricity, plumbing and masonry.
- ADA has added a GED program in the evenings.
- Students at ADA and their families have access to a free pediatric health clinic, called Haven Care.
What would the trip entail?
- Most of the time will be spent at African Dream Academy. There will also be a trip to the free pediatric health clinic affiliated with the school, called Haven Care. Participants will be questioned about what area most interest them to help at the school. Those interested in young children could spend time helping in early childhood classrooms. Those interested in older children could help in those classrooms. It would be nice to take some supplies for a particular art project and some books to read to the students and give them the books. Those interested in computers or science could help in those labs. Those interested in music, art, physical education and soccer could help those teachers.
- There will also be a visit to some homes so participants can see how people there live. We will visit the center of Monrovia and a street where handmade crafts are sold. If we are there on a Sunday, we will attend a church service.
Where will we stay and what will the trip cost?
- The Kendeja Resort Hotel is one block from the school. It is on the beach and has a salt-water pool. (Please keep in mind that things can go wrong with the amount of generator power so the pool could be out of service which happened to me once out of seven visits). It is not really safe to swim in the ocean as there are strong currents but sitting on the beach is nice. Usually, we are at the school during the day and then go back to the hotel and jump in the pool. The hotel provides a good American breakfast as part of the fee. Generally, we wrap up something from breakfast (i.e., a peanut butter sandwich) and eat that at the school. The hotel has good dinners which can be eaten by the pool. When we go into the city to see it and shop one day, we can go to a different restaurant. The hotel costs $150-$165 for a regular room with a king-sized bed. Three students could stay in them. There are seven executive suites that cost $250 and 5-6 students could stay in them. Adults could go one or two to a room, depending on their preference and what they are willing to pay.
- Airfare has usually cost $1500 but it is high now ($1900). Figuring 6 nights at $50 per night for Youth, $50 a day for food and the highest airfare at $1900, youth would spend approximately $2500 each. A visa is needed to travel to Liberia and it costs $160. Medical and Evacuation insurance is recommended and costs approximately $110. Adding those in plus unforeseen expenses, $3000 per person should be expected. There will be fundraisers during the year to provide scholarships to those who need them.
Will we be safe?
- Students will be with the group at all times. The hotel is one block from the school and participants will be transported to and from the school by van or bus. The hotel is safe. There are guards on the beach. Travel into Monrovia for a visit will happen in a van or bus with everyone staying together.
- Founder and CEO of ADA, Rev. Samuel Enders so transformed the area with the school, technical school for parents, GED program and pediatric health clinic that he was petitioned to run for Congress. He did so as an independent and won with the largest plurality in Liberia. We will have the help of his congressional staff.
What shots will we need to travel to Liberia?
- Yellow Fever
- Chicken Pox
- Hepatitis A and B
· Medication for Malaria (This is the dry season but just in case.)
· Insect repellant for clothes and body