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Knowledge is Strength

 

 

Greetings from Africa!

I’m Aaron Williams and I work for Universal Outreach Foundation as the beekeeper training manager and also as a beekeeping extension worker. Being with Universal Outreach means a great deal to me because of the passion I have for the work I do; most especially gives me an opportunity to share my knowledge with my fellow Liberians.

Right now I’m in Egypt participating in a project analysis course. This opportunity was made possible thanks to funding from the Egyptian government and the Universal Outreach community (thank you!). I look forward to returning home later this month so I can use my new skills to impact the lives of the Liberian people.

The project analysis course is helping me better understand the value and impact of project design. I see this being advantageous as beekeeping grows in Liberia and we look to a future where Liberia is the hub of beekeeping in West Africa. With project analysis I’ll be able to design and evaluate the best way for the Association of Beekeepers in Liberia (ABEL) to invest its time and resources. When Universal Outreach encouraged us to start this association it was because they knew that in the long term it is ABEL that will be the voice of beekeepers in the country and I want to ensure we are progressive.

Egypt has also opened my eyes to what is truly possible in the field of agriculture. Egypt is a desert country, but they are producing crops and exporting. Liberia has land that is rich in organic matter, but because of the limited knowledge of the average Liberian farmer agriculture is still at a subsistence level. In Egypt, I’ve learned ideas like grafting citruses (bees love the citrus tree flower), field layout for irrigation and the usage and preparation of organic fertilizer. These are all helpful ideas that I look forward to sharing with farmers in Liberia.

I could say so much more about my program, but I’d like to conclude by thanking the UOF family for their continuous support to the development of Liberia. Thank you for supporting the development of the honey industry over the past six years—you have done very well for us. If you came here to meet the beekeepers you would feel proud. I look forward to us working together to support small-scale farmers with the new techniques I’ve acquired in Egypt. Where there is food there is also good health and joy!

Aaron B. Williams

Courageous beekeepers get a hand up

 

A few months ago I wanted to get some fresh beekeeping photos, so I tagged along with the beekeepers while they harvested honey in Nimba County. We ended up in a village that was gifted hives from another organization, but didn’t get any beekeeping training to help guide them. I have to commend the people I met for their courage, but courage wasn’t going to translate into cash unless this group learned how to manage bees and harvest honey properly themselves.

 

 

When they asked if Universal Outreach could give them some tips, we were happy to oblige because WE CAN. This is an example of the benefits of having an extension team that travels the country ready to support beekeepers. They have the time to meet with people like this who are willing and able, and very cost effective for us to support. This kind of program flexibility in a budding honey industry is incredibly valuable as it allows us to respond to real needs in a timely manner.

 

 

One month later, two Universal Outreach beekeeping trainers hosted a workshop with this enthusiastic group to ensure their future as beekeepers. Now instead of getting crushed, bees are now being gently brushed out of the way when frames go back into the hives, instead of getting stung, beekeepers are properly dressed to protect themselves from aggressive bees, and instead of harvesting everything in the comb, honey is now selectively chosen so only the quality capped honey is harvested. This group is set up for a bright future in beekeeping and I’m glad we were able to help.

 

 

Landis Wyatt, Communications Manager for Universal Outreach

A Story From the Field

In December 2016, we asked the Universal Outreach community to give the gift of beekeeping. Three months later and the our beekeeping team was on the road to south-east Liberia to train a community to beekeep. Enjoy this story from Cecil Wilson, Universal Outreach’s Country Coordinator and head of the Beekeeping Extension Team, as he tells you about his journey into south-east Liberia and meeting some of Liberia’s infamous honey hunters.

 

 

“When we arrived in the village, community members lingered close by with great expectation. They’ve heard about improved beekeeping practices and many times both government and NGO’s have promised to train them, but never have those promises materialized. This community is noted for having the most fruitful and brave honey hunters in Liberia.

When they were told that the Universal Outreach would help them with training and starter kits, it seems like one of the many promises they received in the past. Now the vehicles were coming into their village full of beekeeping supplies. At this point it seems like a dream to them. Some skeptical people thought that we had come to draw honey from their rich forest where thousands of Kola trees mingle with other forest trees, for our personal gain, but soon enough we knew they would realize our team was set to deliver a beekeeping program unlike any other they have ever seen and dispel their concerns about potential ulterior motives behind our presence.

The training goal was to construct sixty beehives for twenty participants, supply them with hive management knowledge, honey extraction equipment and also a year of intensive extension support for as long as they remain committed to beekeeping’s best practices. They are also going to receive top dollar for their honey when harvest comes.

On the first day of the workshop, the venue was stormed with more then forty people seeking to be admitted into the training hall, but—as the nature of our program is—knowledge is available for those who see the value, so we allow all interested persons to sit and drink from the facilitators. The Universal Outreach facilitators have been trained to help people seeking to jump out of poverty and move up the economic ladder to a life where they have a better influence over the direction their children’s lives take. Up until this point this community generates its income from farming, a little hunting and honey hunting.

Precisely forty-two people went through the training, but at the end only the targeted twenty persons received beehives. The other inputs such as beekeeping suits and harvest equipment will be shared on an “as per needed “basis. They were also told that the extra people who were allowed to sit in on the workshop will receive our extension support if they take the initiative to build their own hives.

This was also the first workshop in which participants elected a person who did not receive beehives to be their chairperson. To our surprise he went on to start the construction of sixty hives in the month following the training—a sign of true resilience!

It is our hope that these people, with their great knowledge of their Kola forest and existing experience with bees, will create the best possible environment for the bees; become the bee’s champion and not its enemy; and become productive honey producers and conservationists.” – Cecil S. Wilson

Host family needed in Annapolis, Maryland to help a Liberian child in need.

Update on this post

A host family was secured for Maima and she was able to go to the United States for treatment. She had a successful surgery and returned to Liberia after a three month recovery period. Thanks to Children’s Medical Mission West, Dr. Zebovitz and the Pluta family for making this a reality.

 

maima ocean_2

Maima is a young girl from the small town of Royesville, Liberia, West Africa. As many of you know, Royesville is where in 2009, Universal Outreach started a school building project and has been invested in the community ever since.

Two years ago it was identified that Maima has a serious issue with her jaw that makes it impossible for her to open her mouth more than a few centimeters. After long struggles to find a solution in Liberia’s overwhelmed medical system, she traveled to neighbouring Ghana for a CT scan. The CT scan was immediately sent to Children’s Medical Mission West, a charitable organization that focuses on medical emergencies.  A doctor in Maryland has been found who is willing to provide her free medical care for her Bilateral Temporomandibular Joint Boney Ankylosis, a condition that restricts her ability to open her mouth and has endangered her health.

This medical solution will win Maima a new lease on life that her family could otherwise never afford. While her medical and transport costs are all covered,we still need to find an Annapolis-area family to volunteer to house herwhile she is undergoing her surgeries and follow-up care over the course of six to twelve months.

Hosting Maima would be an outstanding cultural experience for an American family. Liberia became a homeland for freed American slaves, giving Liberia and the United States a long-standing bond that Maima’s country and its people treasure. By hosting her, a family can explore the cultural bridges between Liberia and the United States, learn the subtle differences between Liberian English and the English spoken in North America, provide a miracle for a country with limited medical capacity, and change the life of a child in need.

To learn more about Maima, please contact Landis Wyatt; to learn about the role of a host family and the screening process to ensure a safe and comforting placement, please contact Tami Shobe. Thanks for taking the time to read about Maima, and please share her story with your friends in the Annapolis area!

With gratitude,

Landis Wyatt and Kent Bubbs Jr