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My life - my Liberia: our people, personally and authentic

Pastor Sumo V. Korvah

As a humble and a Religious Educator, Pastor Sumo V. Korvah sees feels he has more to do a recipient of an honor from Swiss International Nongovernmental Organization based in Liberia, Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland. Prefer to be called an ordinary person, though with a lot of obligation to his community, the church and educational sector, Mr. Korvah believes suing his endowment to help other people is a bets way of helping humanity. “I am just an ordinary person who is using my endowment to help young people. I grew up as a child and my adult life has been here.” Pastor Korvah hails from Lofa County but grew up in Montserrado and is currently residing within the ELWA Junction Community in Paynesville where he serves as key decision maker which he view as an opportunity to intervene into matter that shift the lives of so many persons. “I’m more like a community leader and that just exactly who I am. I am a pastor, father, husband and also a professional person. By career, I am an educator; I spend more than 95 percent of my life in the classroom. Right now I work with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment as a human resource person.” Relationship with BTFS His encounter with BTFS came in the wake of the organization work in the educational sector of Liberia, where it was providing awareness on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and working with students and administrators to establish health clubs within some Liberian institutions. “BTFS works with a school and I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors of that school. And we encountered the President of BTFS, Mr. Felix Walz few years back and then he expressed some interest in the work that we do at the school and he decided how BTFS can come along with us in some key areas that they selected like water, sanitation and infrastructure work. It’s a partnership and we’ve been meeting and discussing and enter into an MOU. Aside from that I have done some workshop for them, preparing young people in various topics as assigned from time to time. More than that, the core employment team of BTFS are all members of my church and I have that discipline guidance role with a lot of them personally, so BTFS and I are inseparable. Currently, there is an online program ongoing and I serve as a local facilitator for one of their courses. That’s my relationship with BTFS.” BTFS Impacts Lives Though according to Pastor Korvah, the organization is young, the work done in few time speaks volume of its readiness to improve the living conditions of underprivileged Liberians. He said BTFS humanitarian services fall in line with the prevailing situation Liberia and Liberians are faced with after years of conflicts. “BTFS is young relatively; however, the nature of work they have selected to do in brining communities together is good, I don’t think there’s a better time for it in Liberia than now. We talk about reconciliation, we talk about community engagement, we talk about health and hygiene, we talk about young people and I don’t think there’s a better time for it than now.” He also gives an account of how BTFS has been working hand-in-hand with community members, saying “BTFS has been in the community working with young people sensitizing them and one of their pilot projects was on teenage pregnancy and that how the school came in. We realized that the community converges in the schools through their children, some child come from some community. So they felt that this will be a good spring-boat to take our message to the community, that’s how BTFS got involved with the schools.” These approaches by the institution staffs, most especially the foot-soldier tactic according to Korvah, will sent out messages of essence to all parts of the community and Liberia as a whole on the NGO area of interest. He related this to the numbers of challenges faced by Liberians, but noted that such engagement would contribute in curtailing them. “Definitely, we can’t begin to number the challenge that Liberians faced but few like we talk about the teenage pregnancy, this thing will ruin our country, our people. Today, it’s the young people that rea affected but nobody remains a teen forever, teen will grow into adulthood and into leadership, some of them are rape and these are the people who are going to be handling the leadership of our country. They decided to work with water and sanitation, how many household have water pipe-borne   water? He questioned. During the dry season, some around here and see, water access is a serious challenge to this entire SD Cooper Community. Even our community and other surrounding neighbourhood, people have to get up at early as 4AM to get a chance at the Well. The Well is in somebody’s property, so they control when they open it and close the Well. In the midst of all of these challenges, BTFS has decided to work in alleviating safe drinking water crisis.” Recognizing BTFS Community-Police Partnership Building Pastor Korvah is also enlightened about BTFS strive in bring the community and police together. “There is this notion that BTFS is trying to curb from the communities, that the police is our enemy. BTFS has spent a very, very strong support when it comes to brining the police and the community together. So, these some of the many things that I can just list at the top of my head that BTFS is involved with that the community is benefiting from,” The man of God said. He expressed the need that the organization extends its arm to other areas outside the Capital, saying “the needs are enormous and if BTFS can grow by taking this community initiatives to other communities, apart from the SD Cooper Community, it just going to be a blessing to Liberia. We are at a very critical place; the world has shifted to technology education and can you imagine that our schools now still do not have labs; computer education is still a privilege, we need organization like BTFS that can drive us in those directions. My failures are my lessons and I say this with proud, so those lessons I didn’t learnt from someone as a young man and experience has to teach me and BTFS is enlightening other young people that they don’t have to go through the same struggle, I believe it is an opportunity,” Pastor Korvah averred. The man of God takes the honor as one that drives him to doing more as a leader for his community, the church, educational sector and Liberia at large. “It’s an awesome feelings, I feel awesome. Where we sit now, I’m elated because BTFS could have chosen anybody for the month of April, to be chosen humbles me. I am humble by the selection and recognition.” “It also awakens me that people depend on my decision, people depend on my activities and that people are watching me in essence. Let me say thanks to the Bowie Trust Foundation Switzerland, Felix, Mr. Gaye and all of the team that work there for the honor and the work they do but I look forward to BTFS growing beyond SD Cooper Road,” Pastor Korvah ended.

Tarneu Kerkula – Liberia National Police Chief Inspector, General Commander of the Zone Eight Depot In Paynesville

Tarnue Kerkula comes with humility and is a willing to serves the Public in his capacity as a Liberia National Police (LNP) Officer. His Work with in the law enforcement sector cannot only being seen visible but is a pragmatism among Liberians struggling to build a resilient security sector. From his interaction in community base initiatives, most especially promoting community policing in hotspot across Liberia, Kerkula was earmarked as a dedicated personality by cross sections of Bowier Trust Foundation Staffs and have accepted this honor with proud to do more to public service. Kerkula currently serves as General Commander of the Zone Eight Depot In Paynesville.

Kerkula’s Story  

“I am a son of Liberia and hailed from Lofa County, Kolahun District, a devoted Christian who is married. I serve as Chief Superintendent for the past eight years and I am a student of the University of Liberia studying Public Administration Major and Management Minor” I am among the first class graduates of community policing of the Liberia National Police  and a servant of the community which he serves.” Tarnue Relationship and Experience with Community His relationship with community members currently serves as a pathway for other law enforcers to built a better relationship with their communities. “ I take people within my community to be my bosses because it is my pleasure to serve people. As a resident of Freedom-Land Community in Paynesville City, I have always find myself in services, ranging from school, church, private security and now the Liberian National Police force in serving my nation” As a servant, he feel disheartening when people are abuse in all forms and manner due to vulnerability. “I feel it is my duty to serve my nation, especially where people are left vulnerable and abuse and they need assistance. I feel that if indeed I just sit at the bench and watch, I will have no input. I feel that the only way to give relieve to my citizens is to form myself part of the service agency, and this agency is the Liberia National Police which I see as the best because they interact with the public on a daily basis.” As a passionate worker and once member of the boy-scout, he feel that the police will make it easily for him to work in the community, saying I am very proud because I am not a Commander that sits in office and give command, but I am always on the field.” Impact of LNP Service A 15 years of service to the Liberia Police is quite significant but Tarnue feels he still have more to offer his country. “I am in my 15 years of service to the LNP and I have made significant difference. When I joined the Liberia National Police, Paynesville was the most high crime breeding area in Montserrado” “In 2004, we had a group of criminals call ‘Asakaba’ in the Redlight area located in Paynesville who frustrated people, take away people materials and beat them and sometimes abuse them. But after I found myself in the position to rescue, I ensure that they were remove from that area” The criminals used a gospel song commonly sang in Liberiann churches for praise and worship called “Lift him up higher, lift Jesus up higher” to implement their deeds. They sang as they attack someone passing through a route that they were stationed “Lift him up higher; bring him down lower, what you have money, give us it, yes sir” “While serving as Commander of Zone nine in Redlight, I was able to work with the community police to bring down many hardcore criminal gangs in Paynesville, including the notorious ‘Turtle Base’ and things are still working up to now.” Relationship with BTFS           In 2014 – during the EBOLA crisis – Commander Kerkula began working with by then UNPOL Peacekeeper, Police Captain Felix Walz, later founder of the Bowier Trust Foundation, and became close friends with him. Kerkuka has used Bowier Trust Foundation as a limelight to create massive awareness and stronger relationship in various community. “I must be grateful to the all mighty God, because with the Bowier Trust Foundation which is an NGO that really embrace this concept and support our ideas. And this concept initiated by Bowier Trust has been supported 100% by our political Representative, Hon. Samuel Enders and as for now, we have a listing of over 210 persons willing to form part of the community policing force” (vigilante units). Called for Capacity Growth “We believe in capacity building, and we are doing the vetting of the men; we will be training them in community policing and information sharing, human rights, our constitution and how to applied force as well as the limitation of their powers and Code of Conduct. Challenges while Serving / Motorcyclists  Mobility remains a challenge not only to Supt. Kerkula’s command of the LNP,  but to several other security sectors. “Mobility is a serious challenge, but in so doing, the limited resource we have is used to provide service to our people. Some communities are not layout, so in case of incident to get easy access in responding on time will not be accurate. We want BTFS to help in that direction for us and to also help us with at least three laptops that will help us easily carried out our work, because we are in the digital age.” These materials according to Supt. Kerkula will help with fast information sharing. Concluding, Kerkula named BTFS – Police – Motorcyclist relationship as vibrant, which he noted have created a stronger partnership between the two group more than ever before, but stressed the need that more training be done.

Hannah Yarsiah-Resident of Zorla Town, Paynesville

Swiss International organization, Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland (BTFS) Personality of the Month of February, Hannah Yarsiah is a widow with five girl children. Her involvement with BTFS Community engagement has attracted her to the organization since 2017. As a community dweller, Madam Yarsiah is always committed in adhering to the NGO calls for dialogue on possible means of improving health, sanitation, security and education in her community. As a sign of recognition for her dedication and services to community growth, BTFS Field Team took a visit to the home of Madam Yarsiah, following her selection as personality of the Month. During the visitation, Madam Yarsiah explained about how BTFS has made a difference in that part of Liberia since she move there as a resident in 1982. “I was born 1976, June 18, and I move on the SD Cooper Road in 1982 and still residing here. I began my education in 1983 but could not complete due to difficulties, so I stop in the eighth grade. Since the death of my husband some years back, life has not been fine with me, so I have to fix people hair to get money for earns means. Those who used to help me have stopped their support and my children and I are living by the grace of God,” Madam Yarsiah said. Outlining Community Hitches Her longtime resident, Zorla Town in the SD Cooper Community located in Paynesville, outside Monrovia has faced series of challenges which has created difficulties over the years. “Sanitation is one of our major problems here we don’t have good latrine and save drinking water, we lack the two in particular. As for security, sometimes the boys have been getting up to watch at night but are not all the time because no encouragement from the community dwellers and as a result, most of the boys are now refusing to continue. I think there is a need to do more in improving education on so many things in this community, because people are not aware on somethings that will protect their lives. Interaction with BTFS Madam Yarsiah furthered that BTFS engagement in community initiatives has driven her attention and believes such initiatives have greater impact to creating a positive change for its inhabitants. “I got in contact in BTFS in 2017 when they came around to ask for place for dirt and they talk to me about helping communities address issues on sanitation and hygiene, water, security and creating awareness. From that time, anytime they call for meeting I can attend because I can see them doing so many things about what they told me. In fact I have encouraged so many people, including my Community Chairman to attend their meetings and we have even sent children for their program as well as our female for workshop organized by BTFS. Bowier Trust activities that I saw on their brochure look very interesting to me. In there, they talked about sanitation and construction of wells for safe drinking water and other things about developing the community. In one of their meetings with communities’ leaders, we talked about security and other things communities can be aware of, especially the criminal rate, and I believe and them because they are concern,” Madam Yarsiah noted. BTFS Building Girls Awareness She praised the organization for its engagement with females in various communities as well. “In recent time, they have a workshop where women from various communities sent their children and I sent two of my children and they came back and really praised the NGO for the kind of presentation. According them, it was their first time to learn some of the things taught at that workshop. Our children are usually carried away by peer pressures so when it comes to girls education, I love for my children to be a part, because they are my future leaders. I will like to thank Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland for their activities and they should continue their hard work as they help the community and educate our girls about their future, motorcyclists and police on building good friendship. “Lastly, I will want the NGO to hurry up with their water and sanitation project for the community and also that they start to help us build latrine in various communities because we are faced with serious toilet problem.  We also need something to put our dirt in, instead of placing it all around the community,” Madam Yarsiah averred. Madam Yarsiah is also recommending that BTFS takes its initiative in rural Liberia as a mean of decentralizing the NGO activities.

Liberian Class Room Teacher

The classroom teacher, Francis Oscar admires BTFS as an international NGO, eagerness to support communities, schools and the security sector by giving them the needed supports. Francis Oscar was born on September 16, 1993 in Plebo Maryland County located in Southeastern Liberia. Oscar started his primary education in Maryland before moving to Monrovia where he completed his senior high education at a public school, Paynesville Community School. Mr. Oscar is currently residing in the ELWA Community outside the capital, Monrovia. Liberia shamble economy had made it impossible for Oscar to begin college education but the primary teacher has managed to navigate his way in becoming a trained teacher, earning a certificate in primary education and has also benefited from several teacher training seminars. Since his graduation 2014, Oscar has volunteered his service at the African Cooperative School (ACS) a Classroom Teacher, Principal Assistance, Sports Director, Quizzing Coordinator and Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland Wash Club Volunteer Focus Person at ACS. 2018 is his fourth year of vocation to the teaching field which he said drew his passion throw motivation from residents of his community as well as his passion for the profession. Oscar said: “I feel motivated and I grow more passion for teaching each time parents and residents praised the methodology I used to teach. I also feel that I have more obligation to doing my work when I am criticized by other, I mean the teaching work.” According to Oscar, his first encounter with BTFS served as that defining moment that made him more interested in giving his voluntary service to the Swiss-Liberian Based Non Profit Organization. What he said inspired him, was BTFS engagement with students on the importance of health and sanitation within their schools and Communities. Oscar also stated that within a short period of time, BTFS surprise the school and residents of the SD Cooper Community in Paynesville with the launched of an educational program that puts students on the frontline to do more. “In 2017 the institution launched its award program and this program actually motivated our students to study hard, instead of during too much play,” Oscar stated. The classroom teacher said he actually admires BTFS as an international NGO, eagerness to support communities, schools and the security sector by giving them the needed supports. He said: “The work of BTFS since I started knowing the organization is good, especially for an undeveloped community like White Sand Community in this SD Cooper area.” Oscar further indicated: BTFS activities in few time is overwhelming for Liberia. It would encourage more kids to go to school and positively exposed young children in the community to developing their environment to educational activities. But Oscar believed it would be important that the organization do more in Liberia because its works are visible and outstanding. Oscar said: “I want BTFS to decentralize it projects in other parts of Liberia and not SD Cooper Community alone because I think those initiatives they have embark upon are good.” Oscar praised BTFS for its instrumentality in promoting Wash Club activities in his school, basically center on health and sanitation. Moreover, Oscar believes BTFS humanitarian work is helping to beef up the Liberian government developmental plan. Oscar believed if more support is provided for the NGO to expand its activities, schools, communities and Liberia at as whole will experience tremendous transformation in the area of health, education and security among others. However, BTFS Administrator Hamnson Gaye wants other people the NGO is working with to emulate the example of Mr. Oscar who is dedicated to humanitarian service. The President, Management and Staff of Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland say, Congratulation! Mr. Francis Oscar for your selection as BTFS Personality of the month of January.

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