Photo: Marilyn and Hank Rossiter, who served in Liberia from 2004-2006, continue to walk alongside their Liberian friends. By David Fisher Fast.
The Liberian government has closed schools in an attempt to arrest the spread of the Ebola virus.
But this doesn’t stop the teachers at the Bridge of Hope girls’ school. They continue to educate through visits to students’ homes, teaching families how to prevent Ebola.
The teachers also pray with the families, encourage them, and deliver a life-line of supplies.
Bridge of Hope was founded in 2007 by Liberian pastors, Jackson and Victoria Weah, and Marilyn Rossiter, who, with her husband, Hank, served in Liberia from 2004-2006 through Mennonite Mission Network.
The Rossiters and the Weahs created this school in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, to give girls the same opportunities that Liberian boys have. They also wanted to offer this education in a Christ-centered community where students are respected.
When the government mandated school closures, Bridge of Hope had 142 students from kindergarten through sixth grade, and was $10,000 away from completing a third floor that would have expanded the school to the ninth grade. The school is applying for a grant to supply the school with a library, an important resource in an area where electricity for computers is rare. Plans were also being made to transition the school to be operated entirely by community members.
In an Oct. 8 e-mail, Jackson Weah wrote: “The situation in Liberia is precarious with deaths in every community in our nation. Bridge of Hope was sailing smoothly until this nightmare erupted with deaths right at the door stairs of the school.”
In September, last year’s valedictorian, Issatu Kromah, lost her father to Ebola and Principal Victoria Weah’s sister also died.
Jackson Weah said that Bridge of Hope is initiating a feeding program “while we await the government pronouncement to reopen schools – hopefully in December.”
Although no other teachers are known to have been affected by Ebola, at least 10 more people in the immediate area have been infected. Hank Rossiter described the situation as being in a “holding pattern.”
Although the Rossiters left Liberia in 2006, they continue to raise funds for the school’s future from their home in Ohio. One of the Rossiters’ highest priorities is to assure teachers’ pay in order to provide quality education to their students. Teachers in Liberia often take jobs with multiple schools, in order to guarantee a paycheck.
The Rossiters also want to assure food and sanitation supplies for Bridge of Hope families. In an already fragile economy, the Ebola crisis has caused the price of staples such as rice to skyrocket.
Hank and Marilyn Rossiter suggest the following prayer, as one way of walking alongside the people of Liberia:
“Pray for all the sick and those caring for them.
Pray that the Bridge of Hope teachers and staff will have Christ’s courage and faith to interact with those coming for food.
Pray for health care workers in over-crowded clinics and Ebola stations.
Pray for good weather and safety in the construction of new clinics, and for the training of health care workers.”