The Hustle & Bustle at Strive
With the Strive community resource centre in full swing, the neighbourhood is brightened by children playing, singing, laughing, and learning. It’s been seven months since Strive opened its doors and it has quickly become a thriving, bustling centre. The opportunity the centre provides for locals to teach, run, and attend classes has added great value and connection in the community.
On our evening walks, we often pass by a local painter and craftsman named Boyce. We noticed that a couple of nights a week he sets up a small table overflowing with art supplies while surrounded by several others sitting on chairs and the grass. He told us that he was teaching craft lessons. After sharing the information about Strive, Boyce now runs a popular crafting class every Saturday at the centre. His attendance has already increased from 5 to 11 students, and he told us that he thinks he will reach 20 very soon!
In addition, a new music program was recently launched at Strive. We send many thanks to Instruments Beyond Borders
for the donation of the instruments to the program. We were also able to award 12 musical scholarships to students for this inspiring program thanks to the generosity of the Universal Outreach community this past Christmas.
Good Clean Fun in the Test Kitchen
We had a great highlight in the food lab this January when Adrian from the Rocky Mountain Soap Company in Canmore Alberta hosted a training program for a range of natural cosmetic products. With the help of our business mentorship program, the demand for Liberia Pure continues to grow and this chance to learn the necessary skills to diversify their product range has come at a perfect time. Over the course of Adrian’s 8-day visit, the group learned how to make soap, lip balm, and body butter – all with an emphasis on local ingredients. The consistency, lather and smell of the coconut oil-based soaps are divine! Thank you to Rocky Mountain Soap Company for this great opportunity.
The food lab also saw some activity in early February, when the Liberia Pure team took the initiative to explore the viability of selling dried ginger products. The team processed and dried a big batch of local ginger in our newly developed dehydrator, then added it to honey. It was deemed delicious and ginger honey is now on grocery store shelves with cinnamon honey and garlic infused honey about to follow.
The Universal Outreach compound has another budding young entrepreneur on-site testing out his idea and learning something new about business every day. Chris started a cold water business last December and since then he can be seen walking out the gate at 6 am each morning moving sacs of cold water via wheelbarrow to his customers. He’s already experiencing the roller coaster of a new business start-up with his expansion to more used freezers that break down at the most inconvenient times. There is no better way to learn than by doing it, and we’re happy to be mentoring Chris as he faces the challenges of being a successful entrepreneur.
We are delighted to share some positive developments from our scholarship program. Four female students, who have been with our program since day-one, graduated from Jr high and moved on
to attend high school this year. Two of the girls, who live close to Strive, come in every Saturday to attend the critical thinking and writing class. We’ve known these girls since they were small, and it's great to see them flourishing.
As well, we send out a big congratulations to Enoch and Phillip who recently graduated from their respective trade programs. Both of them have since found work thanks to their new skills. Phillip told us that his plumbing course was, “very valuable”, and that he has already received contract work in the field.
We met Ruth when she was coming to Strive nearly all day, every day. Ruth loved to be there, gazing at picture books, putting together puzzles and chatting to the staff. Although the team at Strive appreciated her company they
soon called in her family to find out why she wasn’t in school. As it turns out her mother sent Ruth from her home upcountry to live with her grandmother, but her grandmother couldn’t afford to put her in school. Thanks to the Bright Stars Scholarship program we were able to offer this young girl the opportunity to continue her education. She’s now in school and we still get to see her frequently at Strive’s after school programs. We are very grateful to be able to support budding scholars and future change-makers thanks to all the people who support the scholarship program.
The Buzz in Beekeeping
This past December, Universal Outreach hosted its advanced beekeeping workshop in partnership with the Association of Beekeepers of Liberia. The program consisted of theoretical sessions to provide insight into the science behind beekeeping, along with a practical portion and field visits. The farmers attending the workshop came from across several counties in Liberia and deemed the workshop exceptional. One of the highlights mentioned was the discussion around how to partner with farmers to increase the number of hives and therefore share the benefits of beekeeping with more people.
The Universal Outreach extension team continues to implement beekeeping training programs around Liberia’s newly formed National parks and they look forward to a 400-person training in partnership with the World Bank and the Forest Development Authority later this year.
Lofa Honey House
The construction of the new honey house in Lofa county is in its final phase and is
expected to be completed in two months. The region has a growing connection to beekeeping. Three years ago 8 gallons of honey came from Lofa and this year—in the first week of harvesting—over 60 gallons have been produced! The development of this facility is a big next step towards streamlining the production process and connecting beekeepers to markets.
Kent recently went to Lofa and spent a few days harvesting honey with local beekeeper Sata Sarnoh. Sata was thrilled when she harvested 10 gallons of top quality honey from one of her hives. Afterwards, she explained to Kent that one of her daughters has been ill and needs medical attention so this influx of honey money has come at the right time.
To see more of this trip to Lofa County, and see Kent in action, please watch the video below!