Sending Materials to the Obama School
LAP sent 70 boxes, as well as gardening and carpentry tools, and chairs to the Obama School in the fall of 2017. The shipment included: fabric, two sewing machines, scissors, needles and thread for the adult vocational education sewing class; school supplies, hundreds of books, a microscope, musical instruments, sports items, and clothing for students; and reading glasses for adults. All these materials were donated by LAP supporters, including many from the Monona, Wisconsin Senior Center’s sewing group. LAP also added a desktop computer and a PA system that the school had requested.
We were able to send all these items to the Obama School thanks to our friends at Friendship International (FI), a non-profit group located in Beaver Dam, WI. FI has sent containers to Liberia for several years– providing beds and supplies for Liberian hospitals, desks for schools and many other items. They gave the Obama School 40 metal desks in 2015 and carried the Obama School’s two stoves to Liberia in 2016.
It has been very difficult to send materials to Liberia in the past, due to the high costs. Too, we prefer to buy materials in Liberia when possible, as a way to support the Liberian economy, and, because it is faster.
We have prioritized sending books because they are hard to find and very expensive in Liberia. Books are bought at local library sales in Madison, at garage sales, at the Children’s Cooperative Book Center at UW-Madison and occasionally on Amazon or Ebay.
Stella Marie and Tyler McKittrick, who learned of the Obama School through our LAP website, have also sent materials to the school. They have sent two barrels, with lots of school materials such as pencil sharpeners for each child, 700 pencils, paper, and DVDs. Their last barrel included badges for all the Obama School students. They had had them made at the request of the principal because most schools’ students wear badges identifying their school.
Purchasing Materials in Liberia
Since LAP prefers to buy materials for the Obama School in Liberia when possible – to help the economy, to avoid shipping costs, and for speed – we have purchased many different items there. They have included: textbooks for all the students, school supplies, a laptop computer, two printers, a camera, 15 manual typewriters, sports equipment, and material to make school uniforms. We were even able to buy nine manual sewing machines (made in China) right in Monrovia for our adult vocational program. We also bought books in Monrovia from One Moore Books, a company that publishes books about Liberian and Sierra Leone children. Now students at the Obama School can see faces like their own and read stories of children living in various places in Liberia. We’ve also had items made in Liberia when possible, so that local carpenters have a way to earn income. They built the 250 chairs for Obama’s students and 10 larger chairs and tables for teachers right before the school opened in 2011 and later made cabinets to hold books and school supplies, and book shelves.
Dresses for girls at Obama School
Seamstresses in Madison, led by Madison board member Linda Grimmer, made 71 dresses that are each different, for all the girls at the Obama School who are in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The fabric for the dresses came from colorful pillowcases to which the seamstresses added elastic, rick rack, buttons or pockets to complete each dress. The dresses were sent in the container shipment in November.