How an unknown factory came to the aid of NV Massaquoi Students in West Point with a charitable donation
Not many Liberians have heard about the Liberty & Justice Factory (L&J) in Monrovia.
Located in the Johansen Community, a stone’s throw away from the diplomatic enclave of Mamba Point, the factory produces clothes of all kinds and sizes but it specializes in t-shirts and trousers exports for American brands including PrAna and Haggar for students.
This factory is voluntarily producing 1,500 sets of uniforms for students of the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi Elementary and Junior High School in the township of West Point—a facility with an awful history.
At the peak of the Ebola crisis last August, the school was temporarily used as an Ebola holding center but angry protesters, believing the virus was a hoax, ransacked the facilities and the government was forced to close it down.
The resulting contamination made the school unsafe for students. So it remained closed even after the Ministry of Education announced in January that schools should reopen on February 16.
The Department of Children, Family and Human Services, a Liberian NGO, saw the need to reopen the school, applied for funding began renovations. Today a coalition of UN and international aid organizations are helping to complete the renovations, make the school safe and its educational environment conducive for learning.
When classes resume, parents won’t have to buy uniforms. That’s because the Liberty and Justice Factory is providing the uniforms free of charge.
Chid Liberty is the factory’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Mr. Liberty is proud to be associated with the school’s rebranding despite a decline in revenue due to Ebola. But how did his factory get involved in the renovation process?
“We wanted to see if there was anything we could do, especially for all the children in Liberia that are trying to go back to school. The first thing that we thought about was many of the women in our factory, after [the] Ebola [crisis], who were struggling to get their kids back in school, pay for uniforms and [school] supplies. So we said well, this is one thing that we can do to help Liberia right now:”
He said, the L&J intends to give away 50,000 sets of uniforms to the needy students from various schools by the end of this year. “We have spoken to the Ministry of Education [about the possibility of helping government-run schools]. So at this moment, we don’t know which schools will get the uniforms but they will be ready,” Mr. Liberty said.
Established in April 2010 to respond to the needs of women’s groups with small projects in tailoring, the factory consists of 300 employees, who are predominantly women.
Florence Johnson is overseeing the 20 women set aside to work on the uniforms for the school. The women worked eight hours a day and six days a week, with an hour break a day, to meet the April 28 deadline.
Ms. Johnson is proud to be heading a competent team that is contributing to humanity but admitted that there is a bit of pressure to complete their task.
Annie Blamo is one of the women tasked with producing 150 pieces of shirts and or blouses a day. She lives in West Point and her seven-year-old son, Wilson will be attending Massaquoi School when it reopens in about a week.
“I am very proud to be working on such a project. We are so happy for what this factory has done for the children at the N. V. Massaquoi School and their name will forever be remembered,” Ms. Blamo added.
Community residents will have a chance to see and hear from those who have conducted the renovations at the Open House on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
And when the students parade to their campus for a grand ribbon cutting ceremony on May 1, they will be wearing uniforms made by women of the Liberty and Justice Factory.