Sadly Marion, like many disabled children across Liberia, had to struggle to convince her family and community that she should go to school like all the other able-bodied children in her village. However, she was determined to beat the odds and now that she is in the classroom – she is thriving!
Born with a crippled arm which barely functions, 8-year-old Marion rightly pursues education with her peers at Upper Careysburg Public School, some four miles on the outskirts of Monrovia. At school she doesn’t notice her disability, her classmates are supportive and her teachers treat her the same as everyone else. This may sound commonplace, but in Liberia – it’s unusual.
Alongside helping students to succeed academically, Bridge Liberia is creating a supportive environment where all children can grow in confidence. An independent study showed that when compared to traditional schools, parents of students in Bridge run LEAP public schools are more satisfied with school and students are happier. Marion shows how a school’s ethos can positively impact individual lives.
Reading a book at the front of her class recently little Marion sounded sharp with huge optimism for the future. When asked what makes her happy she responded ‘Reading, listening to bedtime stories and playing with my brothers.’
Her parents are farmers who over the year raise money from the small number of crops they harvest and sell to the markets to take care of the family. Quita, her mother, is very hardworking and is now optimistic about Marion’s future. She believes Marion is a “blessing from God and the fact that she is thriving [despite her difficulties] shows them God’s love every day”.
Her teacher Miatta Sorzor, who led her class last year says ‘Marion is a smart kid, she moved to the next class with an average of over 80% in her tests and is a very impressive kid. She is strong and never allows her disability to have any effect on her studies or how she interacts with her peers.’
In many Liberian counties, disability can damage a child’s ability to integrate and be accepted by their peers and community. However, Marion does not have to worry about that anymore, she has found a place where her disability does not limit her opportunities and where she can grow in confidence and excel.