Lucretia Goe´s Dream Comes True
Lucretia Goe´s Dream Comes True, By Friends of Liberia
ALEXANDRIA, Ind.--When Lucretia Goe fled her Liberian home during a civil war in 1991, she never imagined going back. She and her husband, Daniel, and two young children had a harrowing escape, lived in a refugee camp for more than a year and arrived in the United States with fear and loss etched deeply in their hearts.
But these days Mrs. Goe is all smiles, precisely because she is going home, after nine years, and she´s bringing a part of her new Indiana life with her. The Anderson Community Schools reading teacher will spend July in Suaccoco, Liberia, teaching Liberian primary school teachers some new skills.
"This is like a dream come true for me," says Mrs. Goe. "All during the war at home, I wondered how my former coworkers were surviving with barely enough food and certainly no school supplies. Now I can go back with something to share that will make their lives better." She is part of a program called Liberian Education Assistance Project (LEAP). Six U.S. teachers will work with 15 teacher teams from schools in central Liberia. The workshop site is Mrs. Goe´s alma mater.
Mrs. Goe, who now lives in Alexandria, is a graduate of Cuttington University College and she spent a decade teaching fourth-grade at the International School on the campus. Her children, Yidi and Tophlay, were born at the small hospital nearby. Daniel Goe worked for almost 10 years as deputy director of the Peace Corps program in Liberia. In fact, several of her partners on the teacher training project worked as Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia during the ´60s and ´70s. They are specialists in math, science, music and early childhood education who began their careers in Liberian classrooms.
Before the civil war, which began in 1990, Liberia had one of the highest literacy rates in West Africa. But in seven years of brutal warfare, many children never had the opportunity to go to school. In the absence of government, teachers were not paid. Community schools struggled to stay open but had no means to replace materials after the looting that accompanied the skirmishing of a half-dozen warring factions. Children as young as 10 were drafted to fight.
The LEAP program, funded by private grants and donations, was developed by Friends of Liberia, a non-profit organization started by former Peace Corps Volunteers in 1986. During the war, the group sent relief, kept members informed about the latest news in that country and became involved in peace negotiations.
Mrs. Goe and her fellow teachers hope to make the teachers workshop an annual event in Liberia. Their goal is to develop a corps of Liberian teacher trainers who will become a conduit for the best practices of teachers around the world. Mrs. Goe explains LEAP´s purpose this way: "Those who build schools and send materials are making a valuable contribution. But if you develop a teacher´s skills, you are guaranteeing that the quality of the education in that new school will prepare children for productive lives."