West Point is an assault on your senses. It is loud, the air smells of sweat and cooking oil, and it is full of people running in all directions. The kinetic feel to the place is exhausting, yet energizing. You can stop, but West Point keeps moving around you.
There are children everywhere. It is incredible. As the More than Me team walked through the winding sand paths that make up the streets of the West Point slum, a gaggle of children followed us, surrounded us, grabbed onto our arms.
We are in here in Liberia to put 100 girls in school, to meet with the girls, to meet their parents, their teachers, to see what their lives are like. In West Point yesterday, we met a woman who has six children, her husband is blind and begs on the street- the family’s only source of income- and they live in a one room shack with only a blanket on the floor. “How many of your six children are in school?” Katie asked. “School?” The woman said. None of the children were enrolled in school, and no one in the family had ever been to school. The More than Me team told the mother that one of her girls was getting a scholarship, that one of her girls will be the first in the family to learn how to read, write, and do math.
We met and saw children who had made toys out of cans; children who were dancing; children who were playing soccer; and children who just wanted to hold our hands. In West Point, people defecate in the open air and nothing is built on solid ground, but the kids are just like kids everywhere. They make goofy faces and have no shame in staring at you. They have no problem calling out to you, “Hey whiteman!”, “Whiteman got beard!”, “Whiteman take photo!” The kids we met yesterday loved to ham it up for the camera- lots of funny poses and faces.
Two years ago, More than Me had four children enrolled in school. Now, we have 100 girls on scholarship. When you enter West Point you quickly see that there are thousands of children who want to go to school. There are thousands of girls like Abigail, Princess, and Elizabeth; bright girls who joke and laugh and ask questions. We are doing a lot, but there is more work ahead.
Stephanie and I have only been here for two days, but we are learning so much. We have seen the impact a scholarship can have on a girl and her family, and we are finding new ways to grow and make More than Me even better. Taking a walk in West Point yesterday was eye opening for so many reasons. We are looking forward to returning each day to meet with the girls we are enrolling in school. Walking in West Point you can feel the energy of the place. It is inspiring and troubling. And so, we will keep working, keep walking, keep talking, and keep you updated. Stay tuned!