MIDLOTHIAN

After Darlene Hardy shared her philanthropic adventure in Liberia with the kids at Mission Midlothian, the students took matters into their own hands.

The children at Mission Midlothian became passionate about the impact on others their age without food, education and medical supplies.

On May 30, the children with Mission Midlothian presented a check of $1,375.50 to Hardy to donate to the organization she traveled with, BESTWA.

Linda Motley, of Mission Midlothian, said when Hardy described the living conditions of the orphanage the students were immediately touched.

“They wanted to help in some way, and when they found out the kids weren’t in school because they had to pay, our kids just wanted to help,” Motley said.

The kids conducted two fundraisers. First, they went door to door in Motely’s neighborhood. As a visual aid, the kids gave beans and rice to those who opened the door to explain that was all kids ate in Liberia.

Travis Matchett, a fifth-grader at JR Irvin Elementary, said at first he was nervous speaking to strangers about the cause.

“I feel like trying to help people from Africa would make their hearts open up a little bit more because they are less fortunate than us. So I stopped getting nervous and opened up,” Matchett disclosed.

When Matchett heard the stories from Liberia, it made him sad, which only motivated him more. After he heard from Hardy, he knew there was more Mission Midlothian could do.

“I had heard some stuff from the news, and it didn’t sound that bad, but when she [Hardy] came, I wanted to get more involved,” Matchett explained.

“Think of all the stuff around you and the poor kids in Africa who don’t have that stuff, and if you donate, you can help them get that stuff like some kids don’t even get to go to school. They don’t get a proper education,” he advocated.

From door knocking, the children raised $74. Then, Mission Midlothian and the parents involved conducted a garage sale. Mission Midlothian matched the amount the kids accumulated and donated more than $1,000 to educate 11 children in Liberia.

AN UNFORGETTABLE TRIP

Hardy never thought she would travel to Liberia. She envisioned the country infested with mosquitos and disease. It was her dear friend, Andy Perkins, the founder of BESTWA, who introduced her to the experience.

“But, I ended up going,” Hardy said. “It was the most life-changing event in my life, and I’ll never be the same.”

The focus of the trip was to build a birthing clinic since the mortality rate is 48 deaths per thousand live births, according to the data search engine Knoema. The team of five stayed at the clinic during their stay.

Hardy emphasized on the poor medical treatment received. She revealed how she saw a baby with an IV that was prompted by a piece of cardboard. The mother of the child refused to name it for fear of the child dying. Unfortunately, the mother was correct, and her child died.

When Hardy arrived at the government pharmacy medicine was scarce, and body bags were prevalent. Since her return from the February trip, the pharmacy burned down twice.

Other than the medical aspects, it was the people, deep poverty, unemployment, lack of resources and the posttraumatic stress from the civil war that altered her perspective on life.

Through the difficult times, Hardy pointed out, “these people are still filled with kindness and joy and peace and love.”

During the 11-day trip, the group provided old uniforms from the Midlothian and Duncanville Police Departments.

“The Liberian police haven’t had uniforms in 10 years. They were so excited,” Hardy shared.

ORPHANS AND EDUCATION

BESTWA also sponsors the orphanage, The World Champion Orphanage that houses 35 children. Hardy sat down with the woman who runs it and heard the story about her attempt to escape the civil war. When the Rebels intruded her town, “she was running for the river,” Hardy relayed. “It was in flood stage, and everyone is dying around her. They are drowning and being shot at, and she said, ‘God if you save me. I will give my life for you.’” The moment she spoke, she was able to walk across to safety.

It was that experience that influenced her to devote herself to the orphans at The World Champion Orphanage.

In Liberia, education is not free. Primary and secondary education is not guaranteed, which makes the chances to obtain a degree nearly impossible. Hardy spoke with one of the college students BESTWA sponsored. He shared his story of how he was kidnapped and tortured for five years during the civil war.

“There is a severe shortage of qualified nurses, doctors, and teachers in Liberia,” Hardy emphasized. BESTWA is in need of sponsoring four more kids to attend college. A college scholarship is estimated at $250 a month.

“Higher education is one of our least funded because people want to feed the children and send them to school,” Hardy disclosed. “But they don’t understand unemployment rate is so high.”

BESTWA began the feeding program 10 years ago in Buchanan, Liberia. As of 2018, three feeding sites serve a total of 1,027 children each day with food, medical care, education and financial support.

In 2017, BESTWA funded 238 education scholarships to needy children in the feeding program, 937 children received hot meals each day and emergency medical care. The annual review concluded that none of the children in the feeding program died from disease in over four years.

After the trip, Hardy concluded, “I will never be the same and I don’t want to be the same.”

Hardy will return to Liberia Sept 13—24. If interested in partaking in this philanthropic trip, email Andy Perkins at andy@bestwa.org. For more information, visit bestwa.org.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450