A Report on Forgiveness Education in Liberia, West Africa
Because of the efforts of Josiah Cheapoo who runs Grace Network, and others at The Crossing, the International Forgiveness Institute, and the University of Wisconsin (all in Madison, Wisconsin, USA), a bold forgiveness education initiative has begun in Monrovia, Liberia, Africa.
Rebels in Liberia were known for their gruesome practice of hacking off limbs during the country’s 14-year civil conflict.
Liberia has emerged from a horrendous civil war in which over 250,000 people were killed. It took the efforts of some very brave women to stand in the chasm between the warlords and the innocent citizens to finally end the war.
Part of the reconstruction effort now is forgiveness education for children so that they can grow up with a sense of the inherent worth of all.?? It is hard to capture, torture, and kill someone whom you see as possessing the exact same precious inherent worth as you. Forgiveness education emphasizes this kind of thinking toward all.
To date, Mr. Cheapoo has been able to establish six “Community Centers” in which children gather to learn the life-giving principles of forgiveness. They learn the inherent worth of others by reading stories of Dr. Seuss and seeing how all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable.
Within these centers, 600 children are beginning to learn the lessons of forgiveness. We are also planning a “pen-pal” program among four 11th grade classrooms in Monrovia and one 11th grade classroom at Edgewood High School in Madison, Wisconsin.
We want students on each side of the globe to see a different perspective on life so that their views can be challenged, enriched, and begin to include the concept of forgiveness in their everyday lives.
We can’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow always is filled with hope when forgiveness accompanies us on our life’s journey.
Editor’s Note: Read a related story in the Forgiveness News section of this website: “Forgiveness and New Skills in Liberia, Africa.”