GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn native Whitney Slovick has long had an interest in understanding global poverty.
On a trip last month to rural Liberia, she experienced it firsthand.
“I was just struck by the limited options of food there,” she said. “There’s so much need.”
In Liberia, $1 in U.S. currency is equivalent to $80, she said. There is little to eat, people’s clothing is threadbare and disease and death are prevalent.
Slovick, a 2006 graduate of Glenbard South High School, met with educators March 15 to 30 while visiting Flehla, a three-hour drive from the capital city of Monrovia.
She holds a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and leads a nonprofit after-school program for underserved youth in Nashville, Tenn., where she lives.
In Flehla, Slovick led a three-day teacher workshop training about reading strategies and facilitated a forum on classroom management.
She worked with educators affiliated with Safe Home Christian School, which is located in the town, as well as other area teachers.
The opportunity for Slovick to visit Liberia arose when her former co-worker, Brittany Eagleman, whose father helped establish Safe Home Children’s Village – the orphanage associated with the school where she was working, asked her to lend her expertise to the community.
Safe Home’s facilities in Flehla are supported by the Kansas nonprofit Treasure in Heaven.
The orphanage is home to 62 young people, Slovick said, and the school educates more than 200 students in kindergarten through high school.
Eagleman will move to Liberia next year to establish a trade school as part of Safe Home’s resources. It will teach skills such as sewing, computer use and woodworking, while providing academic support for students.
“The development of it has been really cool to see,” Eagleman said of the Safe Home network, adding local residents have been receptive of Treasure in Heaven’s efforts.
Slovick hopes to continue to play a role strengthening education in Flehla.
“I would love to be able to go again,” she said.
For more information about Safe Home school and children's village or to donate to Treasure in Heaven, visit www.treasureinheaven.org.