BEE Liberia is a non-profit organization that offers and supports educational opportunities, technology, and social services to underserved youth and communities in Liberia. The acronym BEE stands for believe, educate and empower.
BEE Liberia was founded by 23-year-old, Pennsylvania-based Olive Massaquoi who was born in Liberia and immigrated to America at age 3 with her family to seek refuge from civil war in Liberia. Massaquoi also serves as the organization’s executive director. BEE Liberia supports The Olivia S. Washington Schools of Liberia, which were founded by Massaquoi’s mother, Olivia Sarnor.
In 2005, while visiting Liberia, Olivia Sarnor saw a dire need in the community in which she was raised.
“The school in my mother’s childhood village was torn down,” Massaquoi told Fufu & Soup Mag. “The closest school was nearly two-hours away. My mom felt she had to do something about it, so she started an after-school program to support the local children academically.”
The after-school program blossomed into a school of more than 200 students in the Gbarngba community of Liberia. This is the only school available to community members within a two-hour walk.
Last year, a second Olivia S. Washington school opened in Red Hill Field, Lower Virginia, Montserrado County.
The school system offers computer classes to primary school students, school lunches and snacks, which enable children to focus while in the learning process. Community members have free access to school libraries.
In her heart, Massaquoi always felt she was meant to use her talents in the education sector in Liberia, but while in college at Eastern University, her focus remained on becoming a lawyer. “I majored in political science and communications. I even did internships relating to law. I only wanted to attend law schools in my state, but after graduation I wasn’t hearing positive news from the schools I applied to within my state,” she explained. “I was really down because things weren’t going as planned. I let go and just asked God to guide me.”
Things changed for the better after Massaquoi met with a friend’s father, Bruce Main, who operates Urban Promise International, an organization that trains future leaders of youth development programs. “I met a lot of great people through the program and received positive feedback. My mother works three jobs and sometimes goes into her savings to help with school needs, it only seemed right to start BEE Liberia to aid the needs of the students and school.”
As the executive director of BEE Liberia, Massaquoi’s day to day duties can greatly vary. “One day I could be working with someone who wants to donate clothes to the kids and the next day I may be on the phone with one of our teachers in Liberia dealing with a major issue like a roof that’s just blown off one of our buildings.”
Despite the challenges, Massaquoi truly enjoys the work she does to aid in rebuilding Liberia. BEE Liberia welcomes volunteer efforts and other resources such as sky miles donations. “We’re implementing a model where people can donate whatever resources they have, regardless of age or status.”
If you’d like to assist in BEE Liberia’s mission, please contact the organization info@beeliberia.
(BEE Liberia – 501c3 pending)