Greetings in Jesus name!
By the grace of God, we had two beautiful, eventful days already this week. We were in the village of Gbokolleh, about 15 miles northeast of Monrovia, where visiting Jeanette Mills aka Jabonkah Sackey spoke to about 32 women who graduated from our small-skills training program yesterday.
It was a program attended by a representative of the Minister of Gender and Development and local chiefs, church people, press and villagers. There was z procession, great singing in English and Kpelle, speeches, drama, presentation of certificates, distribution of 65 packets of rice, exhibition of materials – soap, tye-dye cloths, etc produced by the girls in this community. [Photos soon]..
The community appealed to government and Church Aid to help with water and sanitation, a school, connection of their feeder road from village to other villages [about 17 villages in this chain], empowerment of girls, etc.
They were appreciative of the training and other assistance from CAI and partners to this village. You know this includes US Embassy, CWS, New Water in the Desert Assembly, etc who have assisted CAI in the past in the work in Gbokolleh. An Assistant Minister of Gender and Development pledged $500 for the women to continue their training activities.
We pledge to work with all the partners to establish The Gbokolleh Girls Mission that will help empower youths in this neglected part of rural Montserrado, a few miles away from University of Liberia Fendell Campus.
When the girls complete 6th grade in this community, they get stuck in the village because there’s no junior or senior high school here. As a consequence, teen pregnancy is on the rise. The village is on the road to the neglected and shrub-covered town of slain 19th President of Liberia, William R. Tolbert.
On our return to town, we swung through the old Soul Clinic mission in the eastern Paynesville suburb of Monrovia where Sister Mills was a ‘mission girl’ between 1962 and 1966
Thanks, God bless
PS. A brief about CAI and Gbokolleh is attached
CHURCH AID INCORPORATED
2ND CYCLE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT SMALL-SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAM
SPONSORED BY THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE
About Church Aid and Gbokolleh Village
A little over 5 years ago, Gbokolleh Village, about 15 miles northeast of Monrovia, the Capital of Liberia was randomly designated by an assessment team from the parent body of Church Aid, The New Water in the Desert Assembly (NWIDA) as an outreach community. The church has just launched her “Mobile Missions” initiative to reach “neglected” and hurting rural and semi-urban communities. Just a few years away from the civil war that ravaged the country, people still require help in many ways.
The first mission was fielded to Gohnzipo Village in western Liberia. It was highly successful. The teams took along both physical [food, clothes, medicine, building materials, school materials donated by CWS, etc.] and spiritual [counseling, etc.] help to reach a whole village. During the subsequent review and planning meetings, the road between UL Fendell Campus and Bensonville City was selected for our second mission.
That’s how Gbokolleh village was “invaded” by a big Mobile Mission convoy with assistance from Church Aid and other departments of the church to the utter surprise of the villagers. The elders welcomed us and asked us to stay with them to help in whatever way. Patients were treated; material relief items distributed including school materials for the kids, hygiene and baby kits from CWS in New York; adult literacy learners, and houses with leaks, repaired, vegetable seeds for farmers, amongst others.
Then the first training was launched with a small grant from US Embassy Public Affairs Office (PAO) to include two other areas, Golodee in Bomi County and the Girls Career Club (GCC) in Brewerville, Montserrado County. So here we are celebrating the development of a healthy partnership between this village and Church Aid and partners. We look forward to strengthening this partnership in many ways including empowering the girls of this community, encouraging food production activities, etc. in collaboration with existing and new partners to include Christ Cornerstone Christian Church based in California, USA, [bold added] whose representative is here with us today; Ministry of Gender and Development, etc.
Congratulations to the graduates. And thank you to the Governor, Chiefs and Citizens of Gbokolleh for their warmth welcome. God bless.
June 28, 2013
Thanks to Jeanette-Jabonkah’s new Facebook page, she has found her mother, Zena! When her FB page was setup, I advertised it in Liberia, where Jabonkah was born in 1948 and raised and left in 1966 for the USA. Well her brother, from a different mother, Samuel Sackey saw Jeanette’s FB page and made contact and posted that Zena was still alive! Now Jeanette is almost ready to leave California for Liberia.
Jeanette is keeping a journal, and I have hired, thanks to Rev. Brown the CEO of Church Aid Inc. of Monrovia, Liberia, Cyrus, a young college student, to video record a portion of Jeanette’s mother and daughter and family reunion, plus Jeanette and I are working with Rev. Brown to learn first hand about his philanthropic work in Liberia, because Jeanette and I are supporting Rev. Brown’s good works though my church, the Church of the Brethren.
Am I going to write a sequel to Driving the Birds? I’m not sure yet, however I’m trying to plan ahead for this possibility. For the moment, as writers do, I’m imaging working backwards from this reunion where Jeanette and Zena tell each other what has happened since 1977 when they lost contact: Jabonkah and Zena’s stories. What do you think?
Thanks to some awesome friends and lovers of Jabonkah’s memoir, Driving the Birds, we have raised $1,640 to offset the $2,400 airfare from the USA to Liberia, West Africa. Jeanette is so grateful to you all, as I am. Jeanette has her passport and started her horde of immunization shots last Monday. Rev. and Mrs. Brown are prepared to assist Jeanette as is, of course, Samuel and her Liberian family. Yes, we have a concern for Jeanette’s safety while she is in Liberia because she exposed the secrets of the Sande’s secret society in Driving the Birds.
The Sande protects its ancient rituals with the threats of dead and by calling on the sprits of the land to use its juju to punish, if not kill, those graduates who speak of the Sande’s secrets. In the Poro secret society, which is for Liberian boys, there is the Leopard Society that brings death to those who cross the Poro. Bodies have been discovered with the claw marks of the leopard, man made of course using leopard claws. The secret societies of Liberia are not a fiction, but they are very real and a powerful part of Liberian culture and history.
In Driving the Birds, Jeanette wanted to expose the Sande to help stop the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), and in her recent interview that is available on YouTube, Jeanette said that she can never go back to Liberia for fear of her safety. She said this about a month ago, before she knew Zena was alive!
Samuel, Jeanette’s brother, says that Liberian radio shows are just now talking about FGM and says that the subject is no longer taboo, however Rev. Brown advises us that FGM remains a very sensitive topic. Jeanette is not going to Liberia as an anti-FGM advocate but to see and love her mother and family.
(I must say that Rev. Brown’s works are not related to an anti-FGM advocacy, and I will not speak to his views about FGM because of the very sensitive nature of the FGM topic in Liberia. Jeanette and I donate $1.00 (about 25% of our net) for each copy of Driving the Birds that is sold online to the Church of the Brethren that has supported Church Aid Inc. in the past, again, neither the COB or CAI have an anti-FGM advocacy; this is solely Jeanette’s and my passion: to help stop FGM. But CAI is helping Liberians in many positive ways which Jeanette and I support.)
Jeanette and I were on Liberian radio last January when she discussed Driving the Birds and FGM. Last week, we received word that they want us back on the air, but their has been no follow up contact. We are not sure that we could accept an invitation to be on the Liberian radio until after Jeanette’s return.
Well, that is all for now. Post up any questions and/or comments.
Satta, Samuel Sackey’s sister, and Zena Sackey. June 2013
Jeanette is returning to her home in Liberia to see her mother whom she thought was dead, until just recently.
Great news, however, Jeanette could be putting her life in danger because she exposed the secrets of the Liberian secret society, the Sande, in her memoir Driving the Birds. She had never dreamed that she would ever go back to Liberia for safety reasons, but her mother is alive, so Jeanette is going! Jeanette has not seen her mother in nearly 50 years.
Please go to my website http://shadwellpublishing.com to learn more about Jeanette, by watching her interview that is available on YouTube.