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November provided little time to relax for the small team who headed out to Liberia for the Dedication of Everland. It was a journey that that would prove unforgettable. Carrying gifts, flags, clothing, blankets, cards, toys and practical items from kind-hearted supporters and sponsors, it was always destined to be a life-changing experience.
And life-changing it was, although not all of it stress-free. No matter how much you prepare and organise, one cannot anticipate the obstacles which present themselves from time to time, and that was certainly the case on this journey. Supporters had diligently sent either Karen or Dee their flags, gifts and cards for their sponsored children in advance and all were duly squeezed into the very heavy suitcases destined for Liberia. However, Air France managed to lose all four of the 23kg suitcases Dee and her companion had checked in, and so the gifts, toys, blankets and pretty much all else weren't available for the dedication itself, although they did finally arrive - via Casablanca - the day before departure, and so all was left in the good hands of the pastor heading up the project in Monrovia. Thankfully, the other half of the team had no such problems, and thanks to all that they brought along successfully, we had more than enough goodies to hand out to the Everland children, and plenty more besides. The children in Monrovia were in for a treat!
ABOVE: As you can see, in spite of the suitcase saga, between us we had more than enough for the Everland children, and much more besides. Gifts were sorted into piles, with one pile for each sponsored child, and the remainder for the other children present at the Dedication. No child went without, and many received much more than even we anticipated. The piles above include toothbrushes, flags, badges, Michael t-shirts, hand-made t-shirts, flannels, bandanas, trunks, hair grips, hair bands, gum, pens and pencils, pillowcase dresses diligently made by our creative Trustee, Karen, and much more besides.
ABOVE: Many of those sponsoring children through MJL sent cards and gifts for their respective children. On the left, you can see some lovely items - football and pump, little koalas, Australian flag, photos and letters - which were sent from Mary and Janene in Australia, who sponsor little Atinah K. On the right are hand-stencilled personalised washbags which were given to each of the Everland children, courtesy of our creative and invaluable Trustee, Karen. These bags proved useful for putting gifts inside before they were given to the respective child for whom they were intended.
ABOVE: Some more beautiful items sent to us before our journey by our thoughtful Trustee and Treasurer, Tori. From skipping ropes, cuddly toys and bracelets for the girls, to toy gliders, crayons and boomerangs for the boys, the children at Everland Liberia will never go without.
ABOVE: While all the visiting team got our hands dirty, from the outset, MJL Trustee Karen adopted the roadsign project as her very own, and from start to finish, her dedication determined it a huge success. Above you can see how it progressed from a huge chunk of dirty metal which cost an awful lot of money, to a cleaned, stencilled and beautifully painted sign. Forward-thinking Karen had ordered the stencil, based on our artist Mimi's stunning artwork, weeks before our trip, and it proved invaluable. As you can see, the sign is going to look pretty incredible when it is placed in concrete outside the children's home.
ABOVE: Roland and Mrs Sake, who provided much transportation during our trip and proved excellent hosts, are seen here admiring the now completed roadsign. ABOVE RIGHT: Letter to the children and goodies provided by MJL's Trustee and Treasurer, Tori.