Where We’ve Been
Excerpt from the story of Eric N. Karmee, 2017 9th grade graduate from Dougbe River Presbyterian School of Liberia who has a dream to become a pilot:
‟At first the children of the Twarbo and Glio regions struggled for education. Some were engaged into early marriages, some were wandering without any reasons, while others were involved in criminal activities. All these acts were done by children because there was no school, and they knew nothing about the importance of education. Fortunately for us, one of the sons of the soil, Mr. Isaac Monah, saw the need of building the first school Dougbe River Presbyterian School of Liberia (DRPSL) in the region”.
Isaac Monah grew up in Grand Gedeh County, Liberia, the region where the Dougbe River Presbyterian School is located. As a child, there was no local school, so his parents eventually arranged for him to live with his uncle’s family to attend school – 14 people in a two bedroom apartment many hours from home.
Observing how hard things were for his uncle with so many people to support, Isaac eventually asked to be sent back home. Over the next several years, he continued living with family friends and relatives far from home in order to gain an education, until Civil War broke out in 1989.
Like many other young men in Liberia, Isaac was forced to flee the country or be conscripted into an army, either the government’s or the guerrilla fighters’. After working as a jungle guide for visiting researchers in Ivory Coast, he moved to Ghana, where he finally received his high school degree.
In 2002, Isaac had the opportunity to come to the US, with the help of his friend, Scott McGraw, a professor at The Ohio State University whom he had met while working in Ivory Coast. He eventually settled in South Euclid, Ohio, and, inspired by conversations with Scott, decided to seek out a Presbyterian congregation for his church home.
In 2007, after 18 years away, Isaac returned home to visit his family and community. While there, he was struck by the fact that there still was no school – children had to travel far away to get an education. And in speaking with the villages, they made it clear that the best way to help them was to build a school. So Isaac returned to Cleveland, determined to make that happen.
He shared his vision with his church family at Noble Road Presbyterian church and his pastor, Francis Miller. They recruited friends and others who could help, and came up with a plan to make Isaac’s vision a reality. When Isaac and Francis returned to Liberia to share their plan with the villages, the community became energized and committed. They donated 150 acres of land for the school’s development. And the dream became a reality.
The Dougbe River Presbyterian School of Liberia opened its doors in November of 2012, committed to Isaac’s vision of a school rooted in faith that contributes to the development of Grand Gedeh County through the education of children and youth. In 2015, Dougbe River School was established in the United States as a 501(c)(3) to act as a primary fundraising agency for the school and its mission.
With the partnership of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve, and the support of more than 30 worshipping communities and countless individuals, it has grown into Isaac’s vision of a place set apart, where students are fed and nourished in mind, body, and spirit.