Buckeye Valley Middle School (BVMS) students received lessons in math, geography, and history from one of the founders of Restoration of Educational Advancement Programs (REAP), Christine Tolbert Norman, an honored guest of Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin and his wife, Jill.
The Martins met Norman recently at a Pointman Leadership Institute conference in Africa.
Norman’s father, William Richard Tolbert Jr., was president of Liberia from 1971 until 1980 when he, along with two of his sons, was assassinated in a coup. The rest of his family, Norman included, were exiled from Liberia. Norman made her home in the Ivory Coast.
Norman, a teacher at her core, looked up into the student filled bleachers and told them, “You have a wonderful school.”
“In Liberia, the schools have no air conditioning and only a little electricity,” she said. “When you grow up with good values and character, like here, there is no way you won’t succeed. You have good schools, you will find good jobs.”
Norman told them about her life, her father’s assassination, her exile to the Ivory Coast, and the civil war of Liberia.
“Imagine losing your parents. You have no skills, and no job,” she said. “After the civil war, I went home to help restore the country.”
Norman is helping Liberia through REAP, the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization she helped create. Located in Monrovia, Liberia, the nonprofit provides needed school resources to war-affected West African countries.
Norman gave the students a different kind of math problem to think about.
“One dime will feed one child in Liberia,” she told them. Then she asked, “How much will it cost to feed 30 children?” Without hesitation, they all said “$3.”
Norman said the change students throw aside can help change the life of the children in Liberia by keeping them in school. She said the things that get tossed away here could be used in African schools.
“We need everything,” she said. “We need school buses.”
Norman said by keeping children in school, teaching them good values, good character, and practical skills, they will be successful in life and make a better world.
According to Norman’s REAP Bio, since 2002, “she has worked to provide hope, opportunities, and empowerment to youth, young adults, ex-combatants, widows, orphans and other marginalized groups in her home country of Liberia through her nonprofit organization REAP. She is also an international educator, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and advocate for peace and reconciliation, and an agent of positive change.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.