– Jewel Starfish Foundation beneficiaries tell VP Taylor Leila B. Gbati
The Jewel Starfish Foundation (JSF) is an organization that aims to improve the lives of Liberian adolescents as well as the status of women in the country.
Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is currently serving as Vice President of Liberia, established the Jewel Starfish Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to enable disadvantaged women to better themselves via the pursuit of an education.
At the Monrovia City Hall on September 25, 2022, the JSF hosted a gratitude luncheon in honor of 25 of the students that it had funded through Rick’s Institute, the Muslim Congress, and College of West Africa. The students came from all three of those institutions.
Students from the More Than Me Academy, which was closed down by the government of Liberia after an event involving a sexual assault committed by a teacher, account for 21 of the 25 graduates.
During the ceremony, Vice President Taylor made a message of congratulations in which she thanked God for allowing her to serve in a position where she could put her skills to use.
During her recent trip to Zewdru and Nimba Counties, Vice President Taylor met with JSF recipients. While she was there, she shared with those individuals that very few people are given the opportunity to participate in the work that God is doing in the world.
She made it clear that despite the fact that David enjoyed God’s love, he was denied the opportunity to construct the temple in the way that he desired because God insisted that David’s son should do it instead.
Her perspective is that individuals who have been selected for this unique assignment have no choice but to keep going since the work they are doing is God’s work, and she is thankful to be a part of it.
The Vice President of Liberia went on to say that she didn’t want the day the girls graduated from high school to be treated like any other typical day. Because of this, a meal was planned so that the parents could rejoice with their children.
“It gives me great pleasure to see that all of the alumni from Rick’s Institute, CWA, and Muslim Congress are present today. These grads represent the crown jewel of our program. Congratulations to you both! “VP Taylor said.
She took the opportunity to express her gratitude to members of her office for the time and effort they had contributed to the JSF. She emphasized that the JSF is an important project that people may not recognize today, but that on the 25th anniversary of the JSF, people will learn about the types of people who have gone through the JSF program and are now working in offices doing work on behalf of Liberia.
She also praised the Chair of the JSF Board of Directors and the other members of the JSF Board for the system that they established, as well as the Ambassadors of South Africa and China for their support of the JSF.
For her part, the Chair of the Board of JSF, Norwu Howard, provided an overview of the event in which she disclosed that on the Sunday morning of September 8, 2019, they gathered at the More Than Me Academy on Ashmum Street to escort 25 girls to the Rick’s Institute. This was a day of motivation during which the students were overjoyed for another opportunity to achieve their dreams of entering high school.
Madam Howard also mentioned that it was a day of tears as mothers accompanied their daughters in buses with their supplies as they made their way to Rick’s Institute, where they will spend the next five years studying in order to successfully complete high school. Madam Howard said that the mothers accompanied their daughters in buses with their supplies as they made their way to Rick’s Institute.
When the Board of Directors of JSF made the decision to assume responsibility for the tuition of an additional 25 girls, they had no idea where the funding would come from. However, the determined founder of JSF saw the precarious situation the girls had been through, and she told them that they were going to find a way to help the girls because it would be a loss for Liberia if they did not complete high school.
“After waiting for them for three years, we are finally here to celebrate their achievement of graduating from high school. I have worked for JSF for over 20 years, and during that time I have seen our founder give her all to guarantee that JSF continues to thrive. She sometimes put the needs of her family on the back burner in order to make sure that disadvantaged girls were not left behind, and to this day, her sacrifice and dream for Liberia’s Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity are being realized, she added.
She claims that the JSF has a track record of educating thousands of girls, some of whom are currently contributing back to society by serving in government and non-governmental institutions. She says this is evidence that the JSF is a successful organization.
The chairperson of the JSF Board of Directors stated that the JSF is resolved to alter the course of the big outlook that the majority of parents have as a result of their failure to ensure a bright future for their children, and she added “We are going to need some help with this. We recognize that we cannot save everyone, but we can make a difference in the lives of our young by transforming their life one person at a time. This endeavor will require the commitment of a small number of people who appreciate the importance of education.
“As we continue to act as advocates for the JSF, we would like to extend an invitation to you to join us on our quest to invest in putting an end to poverty in Liberia and illuminating the lives of girls through education. Many thanks to everyone who has played a part in the success of these girls; it is because of them that the JSF even exists “In the end, she decided.
In the meantime, Joetta James, a resident of West Point and also a beneficiary of the More Than Me Academy, congratulated the founder of the More Than Me Academy for the wonderful work that VP Taylor is doing. James was addressing on behalf of her fellow alumni of Rick’s Institute.
One of the students who has benefited from her participation in the More Than Me Academy is Joetta.
Joetta stated that following the occurrence involving the sexual attack and while she was a student at the school, she and her classmates were ridiculed and ostracized by certain family and friends who believed they had the HIV virus. Joetta was a victim of the sexual assault.
She claims that they are from a slum community where there is only one restroom for everyone to use. She also claims that when they go to take a bath, other people occasionally refuse to let them use the bucket on the grounds that they believe they have HIV.
Joetta stated that she was anxious about the circumstance and unsure of what action to take as she was explaining her ordeal.
At a gathering that was held at Monrovia City Hall for the purpose of hosting a symposium that was arranged by the JSF, those of us who attended were requested to talk about our personal experiences and what was going on in our lives at the time. When I stepped up and recounted what my friends and I were going through at that same moment, the Vice President of the company agreed to visit the More Than Me Academy shortly after I finished my explanation. After having conversations with us at school, the JSF offered to pay for us to finish our education at Rick’s Institute soon after we graduated from the ninth grade. The VP visited our school and participated in these conversations “Joetta recounted.
She went on to say that they are not merely girls but rather women disguised as girls, and she added, “They are women who are bound for a better future, women who are shattering every barrier that stands in their way. In spite of what others may believe, nothing positive can ever originate from West Point. Imagine for a moment that Rick’s Institute has just graduated a dozen very bright young women. We gave thanks to God for today and prayed that he would be with JSF as they continue to light fires in people’s lives “.
Naomi Wesseh, who is also a recipient of the JSF and a graduate of St. Martin’s Catholic High School in Gbarnga, Bong County, explained that when she lost her father in 2014, all hope was lost, and she was worrying about how to pay her school fees. She was a beneficiary of the JSF and graduated from St. Martin’s Catholic High School in Gbarnga, Bong County. The Vice President stepped in and paid all of her school costs for seventh through twelfth grade.
Naomi bragged that she is now a graduate of one of the most prominent high schools in Liberia and that she is on her way to study at Nor East Norma University in China. Today, Naomi is a graduate of one of the most prestigious high schools in Liberia.
“I would have laughed in your face if you had told me five years ago that this was going to be my path, but God, who sees and knows everything, picked VP Taylor to be my mother and sponsor. If you had told me that five years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I regarded myself as quite fortunate. “I give thanks to God for making VP Taylor my destiny helper and for choosing him. It is an honor to serve,” she said.
Naomi said, VP. Taylor might not be aware of how many lives she has transformed, but her own has been transformed to such an extent that she will be thankful for everything that has happened to her for the rest of her life.
Naomi, on behalf of the JSF, expressed gratitude to the government of China for its broad support of initiatives aimed at the growth and empowerment of women and girls.
For their part, the parents of the graduates expressed their gratitude to JSF for bringing light into the lives of their children and ensuring that their children completed their secondary education.
They have stated that they will keep providing the JSF with support in whatever way that is feasible so that they can guarantee a better future for their children.
The Ambassador of South Africa, as well as parents and other guests who had traveled from afar attended the event.