Liberia is a country in West Africa; bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north, Côte d'Ivoire to its east and Atlantic Ocean in its south. It is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Though it is rich in iron ore, rubber and timber, but approximately 85% of the population lives below the international poverty line. The country's education sector is hampered by inadequate schools and supplies, as well as a lack of qualified teachers.
Liberia is in the process of re-establishing herself to get her out of the post civil war effects. The UN is also supplementing Liberia through a Peace Keeping Mission. Pakistan is front line contributor in peace establishment missions all over the world. In Liberia, almost 2,000 military and police personnel from Pakistan are undertaking the assignment with full motivation, zeal and enthusiasm. To be specific, Pakistani troops have been at the forefront to bring improvements in civil infrastructure and provision of basic facilities to the locals in Liberia.
Recently, Pakistani Contingent's 'Force Quick Reaction Force' (FQRF) renovated GoYe Apostolic Pentecostal Community School which shall accommodate more than 150 students with better schooling facilities. The school is located at Camp Clara in Monrovia. Before this renovation project, the school was lacking basic facilities. School staff comprised of only seven teachers who were previously running the school in a single room. There were no separate classrooms for different classes and students had to sit in a single room. Dearth of furniture, books and stationery was a major worry for the school administration. Moreover, there was no facility of a playground. It was kind of a hodgepodge learning environment.
The renovation task was completed in a short span of time. Now the school has separate classrooms, new furniture, an outdoor playground, and a new nursery classroom. The School has also been facilitated by provision of free medical check-ups to students, organization of sports events and cartoon movie nights.
Reconstruction of Principal's office and seasonal renovations are in process. That efforts by Pakistani Contingent have been well appreciated by the locals as well as UN Mission Staff in Liberia. Ms. Massa Gibson, one of the school's seven teachers, shared her feeling by saying, “I just want to say thank you. This is so important because it will not only help our country but the people of Liberia also. Children now have a decent school and playground; and we hope they will grow up fine.” A 13 years old girl Sangay, who studies in 8th grade and wants to become a doctor, said, “I love the new school, it is so beautiful. I appreciate the Pakistanis for what they have done. The walls are so pretty and we have a place to sit and learn.”
Force Commander of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Major General Leonard M. Ngondi, who is originally from Kenya, inaugurated the new school and acknowledged the efforts of Pakistani Contingent. He emphasized the role of UNMIL in supporting the government of Liberia to fulfill its responsibilities. He said, “Our main purpose here is to enable government and Liberian people to do their work in a better environment. They may be having some problems, but those problems can be addressed.”
Besides renovation and construction of education facilities, Pakistani Contingent is also providing technical, vocational, and educational training as well as essential medical aid and sensitization to locals in Liberia – truly serving the humanity for a noble cause. Pakistan Army has a history of being a peace friendly force and has done much to prove it. The services of Pak Army have been acknowledged by world leaders many times, and the army and people of Pakistan have a proud contribution in promotion of world peace.
The writer is part of Pakistan’s Peacekeeping contingent in Liberia.
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