Turning Pain Into Power

If you have adult children and is married to someone other than their father, make sure you have written your burial wishes in a will. My father died in a tragic car accident when my mother was forty-five years old; ten years later, she remarried. She married someone we knew very well; he was a pastor in the church where we grew up. We accepted him into the family and treated him well. No one could replace our father because no one in the Lewis family is replaceable. We are a close loving family and we continue to do everything together as a family. We spent more time together than with others.

Lewis Family

For twenty-seven years we built a loving-caring relationship with Mom’s new husband. As they got older, we honor them as our parents; doing chores at their home, taking them to appointments, shopping, road trips, etc. For Mom’s eightieth birthday, her grandchildren gave her a trip to Barbados (where her father migrated from), taking her husband along. He was the only grandfather they knew. They loved him.

2009 Summer Camp Pootie-Cho

A year after their trip, Mom died from a heart attack. Losing our beloved Jeanette is the most painful experience we’d ever have. When my Dad died, I was a teenager (third of seven children) and we manage to deal with that loss because of Mom. Like a mother-hen, she kept us, (and later, our children) under her wings at all times. Mom was blessed to see thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and she taught each of them their ABCs and numbers before they even turn three. Mom was a primary school teacher, and she loved her job and the children she taught.

Mom’s death was unexpected. After Bible study, I was back at my computer working when my phone rang just past eleven. Because we live in different states, Tuesday nights 1-hour Bible study is how we spend time together and catch up. Mom taught the lesson that evening, and did the closing prayer; not knowing that would be the last time I would hear my mother’s voice. We were overwhelmed with shock, but things would get worst.

Using Georgia next-of-kin law, suddenly, and unprovoked, Mom’s husband decided to deliberately keep us out of our mother’s final arrangements. He would only allow me to write her life sketch, being a writer (which Mom would have never allowed because she did not do it for my Dad, nor my brother, Jenkins) and he would allow my sister, Marie, to make the family blanket. Thus, our grieving process was hi-jacked by the 96-year-old pastor who I had known most of my life and treated him like family. We did not participate in our beloved Jeanette’s final arrangements nor her burial. That was extremely painful!

Monrovia, Liberia

I grieved my mother’s passing with rage, not sadness. The Lewis family has too many happy memories to keep my sadness afloat. I had to find a way to deal with my anger. Being angry would cloudy the loving memories of our beloved Jeanette, so I had to turn that pain into something positive. I decided to honor my mother by doing what she loved to do, teach. Rather than stand before a class of kindergarteners, I decided to write books that would help underprivileged children start their educational journey with quality materials. Hence, Teacher Jeanette Kinder Kollege was birthed. I collaborated with Village Tales Publishing senior editors, Manseen Logan and Patrice Juah, and we developed nine workbooks (math, science, social studies, Bible stories, language arts, reading, writing, spelling, technology, and handwriting). These workbooks provide plenty of practice for students to succeed in kindergarten and beyond!

The workbooks are intended to be used for homeschooling, giving low-income families an option if they cannot afford to send their children to school, especially with the burden of buying uniforms besides paying school fees.

2009 Summer Camp

Mom loved children and was always surrounded by children. Whether it was at home, church, vacation Bible school, or the neighborhood, she was in the mix with them. God had given me the idea to keep my mother’s legacy by writing children’s books for underprivileged children, especially Liberian children. Liberian children continue to have a hard life because of poverty and other reasons. Too many children in Liberia suffer physical and mental abuse, causing them a painful childhood. The 15-year civil war and Eboli added more assault, leaving many children as orphans. I was turning my pain into power, but how was I to help these children turn their pain into power. My sister, Joann, would recommend how.

Teacher Jeanette Kinder Kollege workbooks were ready, but I wasn’t sure how to get them to the children who need them the most.

“Why don’t we homeschool those children living in an orphanage?” Joann suggested to me.

“OMG! Joann, that’s brilliant,” I said. “We can hire teachers, train them and send them to the orphanage to homeschool the children.”

Salala, Bong County

I believe access to quality education will afford these children the opportunity to start their educational journey with the right tool and help them turn their pain into power. The goal is to help children living in an orphanage meet the basic needs of quality primary education. The Teacher Jeanette Kinder Kollege (No Child Left Behind[1]) is an initiative undertaken by the Lewis family. Like our beloved Jeanette, we believe that every child is precious and every life has a purpose. I’m hopeful that these books, used in homeschooling, would provide education to these children without access to quality education. This is only a start. I pray that God will help them with more opportunities to turn their pain into power using their education.

Learn more by visiting Teacher Jeanette and Liberia Literary Society websites. We need your help.

BeEncouraged, turn your pain into power!

[1] The 2-year program includes a 1:20 Teacher-to-student ratio, Teacher Jeanette Kinder Kollege workbooks (math, science, social studies, Bible stories, language arts, reading, writing, spelling, technology, and handwriting) and a backpack with school supplies. Students are expected to complete the course in a two-year time period.

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