One of the core values of World Hunger Relief, Inc. (WHRI) is to develop partnerships, which lead us to new opportunities in our path of following God. One of our long-term partnerships with First Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia led us to a new partnership with Ricks Institute in Liberia.
Ricks Institute was founded in 1887 and had developed a reputation as one of the country’s most prominent preparatory schools. Agriculture was a central component of the school with rubber and oil palm plantations on its 1,000-acre grounds. But that was before Liberia’s two civil wars, from 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003. The wars ravaged the school as active fighting took place on the campus, and rebels looted and vandalized the buildings, leaving the classrooms and dorms broken and charred. These rooms then became a refuge and shelter for over 30,000 people.
While the scars of the wars are still visible on some of the school buildings, a new story is forming at Ricks. On the wall in the auditorium foyer there is a quote from Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberia’s current president, which summarized this new story so well:
“We are committed, as a people, to build a new Liberia from the ashes of an old turbulent and tragic past to a future of hope and promise.”
Neil Miller made an initial visit to Ricks Institute in 2012 to explore the potential for this partnership. Since that initial visit, WHRI has had 3 interns participate in our international service learning internship with Ricks as well as Job Carpenter, a biology teacher from Ricks, participate in our 13-month internship in Waco.
Job completed his internship at World Hunger Relief in August of 2013 and returned to Liberia. He accepted the new position of director of Ricks Institute’s Agriculture Program and began incorporating many of the practices he’d learned at World Hunger Relief.
The Agriculture Program at Ricks is now using organic farming practices, and using soil conservation practices. They also started keeping records, writing down planting dates and harvest yields, tracking livestock births and sale weights.
As the Agriculture Program at Ricks Institute continues to grow, it not only increases the amount of food it provides to the school and its local communities, it also creates opportunities and jobs for people in the local communities. World Hunger Relief will continue to support these new stories of hope and faith through our exchanges and technical advice.