Meet Manbu — He loves to fix and build things!
Children need to play.
For children to reach their fullest physical, emotional and spiritual development, play is critical. Children who don’t play, don’t thrive. This is especially true for children who have suffered through war, natural disasters, epidemics, death and loss, and separation from loved ones. Even in survival, their lives have been forever changed.
There are no toys or games in places like Liberia, where the opportunities to play are often non-existent. But kids are amazingly inventive: A tightly wrapped ball of rags can become a soccer ball, a simple barrel hoop or old bike wheel, plus a stick, becomes a classic hoop-and-stick toy. And for some kids we see in Liberia, an empty tin can tied to a long piece of string becomes a favorite pull-toy. Imagination does the rest.
And for kids like Manbu, a 10-year-old 5th grader, imagination knows no bounds. The first thing you notice about Manbu is his drive to invent and create. Whenever we see him, he seems to have a new toy or other creation, made from found materials - recycled sticks and twigs, plastic bottles, string and wire, an old broken LED flashlight, taken apart and repurposed. From what you or I would regard as junk or trash emerge a helicopter, a toy truck with electric lights, a bench and table for his mother, a solar-powered cooking stove.
Appropriately, Manbu’s favorite subjects at school are math and science. “I like to fix things,” he told us, “and I want to be an engineer.” How did he learn to connect the batteries to the lights on his truck? “On my own,” he said matter-of-factly.
So far, Manbu’s world does not extend beyond Kolahun. But he hopes one day to go away to college and become an engineer. And after that? “I want to come back to help my mom, brother, and sister, and also my community.”
Perhaps Manbu will be one of those who get the lights back on in Kolahun, solarizes the wells and pump stations, and builds the new irrigation and flood control systems. There are many bright, young minds like Manbu in Liberia, and poverty should not be a deterrence for them to reach their full potential.
Shyly, near the end of our interview with Manbu, he wondered aloud if RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA might help him go to college one day.
We’re working on it, Manbu, we’re working on it!