By Meg Ramey and Duke Adams, Rotary Club of Harrisburg Keystone, Pennsylvania, USA
Since I was first introduced to Rotary in 2016, I have experienced a month-long vocational study trip to Taiwan, became a Rotarian, and met my wife, Dr. Meg Ramey, all through Rotary. Along the way I’ve served a few pancakes, planted some shrubbery for a Martin Luther King memorial, picked up pounds of trash, made some great friends, and had the honor to experience the hospitality of Rotarians locally and abroad. Rotary is awesome! Now, I am embarking on my latest Rotary adventure as the 2021-22 president of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg Keystone.
One of the biggest goals for our club in the upcoming year is the successful completion of our 2021-22 district grant project. In partnership with YesLiberia and several non-profits in Monrovia, Liberia, including the Rotary Club of Sinkor, the Rotaract Club of Monrovia, YMCA, and Educate the Future Liberia, we will purchase a much-needed school bus for the children and greater community of Monrovia.
Liberia does not have a government-provided, “free” education system like ours. Instead, families must pay for their children to attend school. Each year, through their Tuition Assistance Program, YesLiberia provides scholarships for 100 students (60% of whom are girls between the ages of 7 and 22) to attend one of the YMCA-sponsored schools that they could otherwise not afford.
Of course, with no government-funded education system, there is also no school bus transportation either. This means that rural children who want to attend school must walk miles, sometimes up to 90 minutes, to attend school. These walks are often on poorly maintained and unsafe roads through dangerous areas that leave the children, especially young girls, at a higher risk of sexual assault.
YesLiberia provides scholarships for 100 students, a majority of whom are girls ages seven to 22, to attend a YMCA-sponsored school.
Our bus will not only provide safety and educational benefits for Liberian students, but it will also assist the community with transportation, provide jobs for women by hiring female bus drivers, and continue the efforts of youth empowerment in Liberia.
All the YMCA school children will ride the bus for free to and from school. The bus will then run several routes for university students and others in the community, who will pay a reduced bus fare that will generate income to make the operation and maintenance of the bus sustainable. Additional profit will be used to fund scholarships for Liberian school children. To learn more about the need and benefits of this project, watch our “Hop on the Bus” video (2 min.) or read more details on our website.
Several clubs across our Rotary District 7390 have signed on to our grant including the Rotary clubs of West Shore, Mechanicsburg North, Littlestown, and York, and others have made donations, making this a true district-wide project now. But there is still a significant amount of fundraising left to do before this bus can take off.
We are very excited about this project, and available to answer any questions individually or to do a presentation for your club to provide more details. Please contact Meg Ramey or Duke Adams for more information. We look forward to traveling with you and making this bus a reality.