Hillsboro High School Principal Greg Zimmerman and his wife, Kristi, a teacher at Wonewoc-Center, were scheduled for a return visit to the Borto School and Orphanage in Liberia from Aug. 19-28.
Their plans were changed, however, in early July when news broke in the American media of the Ebola crisis. Further reports from Liberian friends confirmed it was as bad as reported, if not worse.
“It’s been surreal for us,” Greg reported during a recent interview with the Sentry-Enterprise. We were just there in January.”
They have been volunteering their services, both in Liberia and at home, to the Borto School and Orphanage since visiting there and becoming close friends of Langley, the school principal, and Quita, director of the orphanage.
Greg and Kristi are supervising an ongoing charity named “Hope’s Cause” in tribute to a young Liberian girl who was adopted by a friend and brought back to the States.
Thanks to a number of generous folks and some administrative assistance from Hillsboro Wesleyan Church, funding for both Liberian institutions have increased. In fact, students from Hillsboro High School joined the cause and prepared packages of educational supplies as part of their “Pay it Forward” project.
With the help of Don Hammer, Greg sent out eight barrels of supplies, but has not yet received word they had arrived in Liberia.
Included were homemade, small slate chalk boards that were a far call from I-Pads, but very helpful to students who don’t even have books to study.
While there, the Zimmermans and some other volunteers also offered educational tips and some of their experience to the few teachers at the school.
Much of the charity offerings were originally used to feed the 46 children at the orphanage and later used to purchase sanitizer and wash buckets for clean up purposes. They quickly learned that water with bleach in it is among the best tools for fighting Ebola.
Since the outbreak, the school has unfortunately closed, but, thankfully, the orphanage is still operating, caring for 46 children who have no homes or parents. It seems that the horrors of Ebola are creating orphans throughout the country!
Most of the schools in Liberia are now closed and the teachers are unemployed, along with most adults. There are some schools in Monrovia, the closest city.
Some fortunate children have been brought there for schooling through “scholarships” from caring folks like the Zimmermans, who are seeing that a little girl named “Gracie” is receiving an education.
Hope’s Cause is also helping to find ways to support teachers that will be so important to future educational efforts for all the children that are being victimized by the effects of the horrible epidemic.
Greg is supportive of American assistance through the use of military engineers constructing small medical stations where volunteer personnel like Doctors Without Borders and Salvation’s Purse can treat folks, hopefully stopping the epidemic and saving many lives. It is similar to the use of Navy Seabees constructing airfields and living quarters for soldiers in World War II.
He reported that hospitals do not have a good reputation in Liberia. However, if it’s American built and serviced, it’s “valid.”
“The Liberians, whose founding ancestors were freed American slaves, appreciate the U.S. If it’s American, it’s a good thing!
“People will trust the U.S. treatment centers and the American medical workers will help victims and provide a sense of security and trust among the local people who are living with fear every day.”
Greg also pointed out that this is a good time for construction, with the dry season just starting and expected to last until next April.
If you would like to make a contribution to assist the Borto Orphanage and help reopen the school, please make checks payable to Hope’s Cause Liberia. The donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to the Hillsboro Wesleyan Church, 1020 High Ave., Hillsboro, WI 54634.
Your prayers for the many orphans and families of Liberia are also much needed and very appreciated.