A Road From Poverty: The Power of Education

Facia Sirleaf, a buildOn member and junior at Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia, wrote this guest blog. Facia was born in Liberia and moved to young age to a resettlement camp in Ghana at a young age. She later emigrated to the United States with her family. Facia is an aspiring writer and poet, and hopes to study forensic anthropology in college. This blog was originally published on the Global Campaign for Education United States Chapter’s blog.

The beginning of the school year always provides me with a time to reflect on why education is important. While some people might take education for granted, my experiences have helped me develop a passion for learning, and a strong belief that education and literacy provide the best foundation for economic and social improvement.

My name is Facia Sirleaf, and I’m a witness to the power of education. As a child, I saw how my beautiful homeland of Liberia was devastated by war and a lack of educational opportunity. As a young refugee in Ghana, I was introduced to formal schooling and the power of learning to read and write for the first time. As an immigrant and now a citizen of the United States, I’ve experienced how the opportunity to receive an education can help make dreams possible.

As a rising junior at Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia, I see great value in my education in helping me pursue a career in Forensic Anthropology. My passion is driven by my upbringing, as well as my recent experience traveling to Malawi with buildOn, an organization that I’ve been volunteering with since I was a freshman.

In April of this year, I traveled to Jembe village in Malawi with buildOn to help build a school, learn about culture, and study why education is important to development. I lived with a host family and spent two weeks working side-by-side moms and dads who just wanted to improve education for their kids. What I learned, I will never forget. I found that people from the U.S. and Malawi share several things in common; however a lack of opportunity and poor education systems are destroying potential. I saw dedicated students in the village studying day and night just for the small chance to go to secondary school. I made friends with young girls from the village, knowing that each year of primary school they were able to finish, their chances for a better life would be improved. I will always remember that, and most of all I will never forget how lucky I am to have access to education and all the opportunities I’ve had in my life.

As I get ready for the first day of school in Philadelphia, I can’t help but think about the students attending school in Jembe, Malawi. While our first days of the school year will no doubt be very different, our goals are the same-to use education to improve our own lives.

Recently, I was introduced to the Global Campaign for Education-US and its important mission to ensure access to quality basic education for all children. I can’t think of a better way for like-minded groups to get together in support of something that is so personally important to me, and to many others in the world. I would like to encourage everyone to support GCE-US and its coalition members as they help women, men and children access quality education to travel that important road out of poverty. I would like to also dedicate this poem I wrote to the efforts of GCE-US:

A Road From Poverty
Little Charles Phiri wants to be a farmer,
Wants a better future for his children and himself
He’s on a journey, a road from poverty
Mother Kwacha wants to better herself through business
She’s on a journey, a road from poverty
Thandizo has been left alone with siblings
She the child must now become the mother
To feed herself and her siblings she must marry
She’s on a journey, a road from poverty
Lady Labaya has never seen the inside of a school
Old and strong, she pushes her children to better themselves
They are all on a journey, a road from poverty