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Kits for Kidz: one student’s dedication to helping schoolchildren in Liberia

Madeleine Lawler, Bear Facts Contributor

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Photo used with the permission of Olivia Noland
Liberian children from pose for a photo at Hope Academy. Olivia Noland, freshman, hopes to help Hope Academy by sending them school supplies.

Without qualified teachers, clean running water, electricity, and even paper or pencils, many impoverished children in Liberia have hundreds of obstacles in their way that set back their learning. One student is on a mission to change that.       

Olivia Noland, freshman, traveled to Liberia on a clean water mission trip with nonprofit Hope2Liberia in January. Inspired by the living situation of many Liberians, she is now working with the Kits for Kidz program, where students from the community can donate backpacks to help school children in need.

“We started it because the kids that do go to school, which is a privilege, don’t really have anything to go to school with,” Noland said. “Many of them can’t afford their uniform. Most of them don’t even have backpacks, and if they do, I don’t even know why they have a backpack because there’s nothing to put in it. If they have a pencil, it’s tiny and doesn’t have an eraser, and the little paper they have is basically from random notebooks.”

Through the website Olivia and her mom set up, those who wish to help can purchase $15 backpacks containing school supplies for children at Hope Academy, a school in Liberia. Because of Liberia’s fourth world country living conditions, the two could have chosen many paths of aid, however, they decided to help students because Olivia is a student too, according to Amy Noland, Olivia’s mom.

“Liberia has so many needs, you could pick anything to help with because they just need everything,” Amy Noland said. “But because Olivia is a student, that really spoke to us because she got to see first hand kids her age that sat in class and stared at a chalkboard and had no pencils, no paper.  If they couldn’t remember what they heard during the day, they basically didn’t learn anything.”

The family’s goal is to supply 400+ fully stocked backpacks on Hope2Liberia’s next container to Liberia, and they advise members of the community to help by either sponsoring a backpack or other school supplies such as chalk, which only costs 50 cents.

“It’s just a really inexpensive, easy way to give back. We live in an area that’s so blessed; we have so much,” Amy said. “Even people that live in our area that feel like they don’t have much, they have so much more than anyone over there. [The Liberians] really live in dire conditions.”

Although Liberia’s people live in fourth world conditions, “It’s inspiring to see that they have so little but can still be happy,” Olivia says.

“The biggest thing that I learned while being there is that being happy is a decision. It’s not made or created by certain circumstances of life, or decided by whether you’re privileged or not, and that has been proven to me by seeing people in probably the worst situation of life I possibly could have ever imagined,” Olivia said. “[The Liberians] are happier than anyone I’ve ever met, and that’s because they choose to be happy with what they do have in their life.”

 

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