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On 23rd November 2012, a dream came true for Michael Jackson's devoted fans around the world as they saw the dedication of Everland Children's Home - a building which will be a home to no less than 50 children for whom it will provide love, sustenance, stability and joy.
In under 16 months since the founding of the charity, MJL had raised enough money to finance the building of Everland Children's Home in its entirety, as well as the funding for a generator and all interior furnishings. This was made possible by less than 300 fans from 27 different countries around the world. This groundbreaking iniative is the first time in history that supporters of someone in the public eye have joined forces to engage collectively in such a humanitarian endeavour, and it is not surprising considering Jackson's love for children and the countless good deeds he did throughout his life. Michael Jackson never asked his fans for just one thing during his lifetime. 'Help me to help the children' he said, and emphasised that helping just one child means having done so much. His fans are now going above and beyond that in the star's absence by funding the building of Everland, which will cater for 50 children at a time. The following pictures, taken by a small team that attended the Dedication, are a record of a little bit of HIStory in the making.
ABOVE: Excited children join us in the school yard at New Kru Town, for an adventure. As yet, none of them have seen Everland, and those who will be residing there have been asking Reverend Dekontee regularly about the home and when they will move into it. Some are living in slums in the community with very little to sustain them. Others sleep where they can find a place to rest their head - often in the church compound.
ABOVE: The small team prepare for the trip to Everland and enjoy some precious time with the children.
ABOVE: Joe and Eric play football (or soccer, for those in the US!). They are very good at it, too, and could give us a run for our money.
ABOVE LEFT: Sweet Adolphee, one of MJL's sponsored children, spent a lot of time seeking out and holding Dee's hand throughout the day.
ABOVE RIGHT: The children were mesmerized by white fingers and long nails!
ABOVE LEFT: A hired minibus arrives to pick up as many children as will fit into it. The children suddenly run from the school yard to the bus and at least 30 of them pile inside. The road to Everland was so rocky and full of large mud ruts due to the heavy rainfall that the bus got stuck in a rut halfway. All the children had to get out and all the men present had to push it real hard to get it to move. By a miracle, the bus of 30+ children eventually reached its destination.
ABOVE: This is the wonderful pastor who is making it all possible out on the ground in Liberia. Reverend Dekontee has a heart for children, a passion for the Lord, and a deep respect and admiration for Michael (as you can see, he wears his t-shirt with pride!). We couldn't have wished for more in someone who is tasked with heading up such a huge project.
ABOVE LEFT: The children see inside Everland Children's Home for the first time.
ABOVE: Reverend Dekontee speaks to the media, neighbouring land owners, supporters and all those present about Everland and what it will mean for the children, as well as how grateful they are for all the support given by fans inspired by Michael's living legacy.
ABOVE: The Reverend holds up a large charity cheque showing how much has been raised to date, for the building, a generator, and for all the furnishings. The cheque shows that $42, 967.77 USD had been raised in the 15 months since the charity was founded. Incredible!
ABOVE: Reverend Dekontee shows off the Dedication plaque for the Home, which was beautifully made and kindly supplied to the charity for just the cost of the materials, by Charles at Photos Forever (www.photosfe.com).
ABOVE: An excited team and children inspect the inside and outside of a miracle called Everland.
ABOVE LEFT: One of the neighbours who has been invaluable in guarding and protecting the land.
ABOVE RIGHT: The children pile back into the minibus which somehow manages to make its journey back down the bumpy dirt track successfully.
ABOVE LEFT: The sponsored Everland children stand in line for their gifts, while other children from the slum community form another line for their gifts.
ABOVE RIGHT: Suddenly, there is a surge and this is what happens next. Yes, Michael is still causing chaos!
ABOVE: Karen and Dee can't get the goodies out of the back of the car fast enough for all the little (and big) hands that are excitedly grabbing and prodding from behind!
ABOVE: Word travels fast thorughout the community and many join us in celebrating the Dedication of Everland. We thankfully have enough gifts to go around.
ABOVE: Sadly, all magical days have to come to an end, and it's time to say goodbye to New Kru Town and its beautiful people..until next time.