My More than Me Mission: Entry 1
“Fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.”
My dream is to touch the lives of girls living in the slums of Liberia. And this week, I am making that dream become a reality.
Hi. My name is Grace Schroeder and I work for a non-profit called the More Than Me Foundation that gets girls off the street and into school in Liberia. I am leaving to go on a missionary trip there in two days! It is something that, a year ago, I would have never imagined I would be doing, and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be going! I will be recording my experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned through working with More Than Me right here to share with anyone willing to read them.
My goals while working for More Than Me are to tell as many people as I can about the girls in Liberia and the More Than Me vision of living for something bigger than yourself, and to spread God’s love while doing it!
My goals while being in Liberia are to bring the girls happiness and hope, encourage them to always be seeking God, play with them, and hear each of their stories.
I’m going to fill you in on why we get girls off the street and into school in Liberia, West Africa.
Liberia is the second poorest country in the world, with 85 percent of their population living on $1 a day. The highest reported crime is rape of girls ages 10-14. Public school is free there, but it is not a learning environment because students of all ages are put into one classroom together and teachers barely show up to class. But 73 percent of children in Liberia are not in school, usually because they are forced to work all day long to make money for their families. Some children sell peanuts or other merchandise that they find, and unfortunately, others sell their bodies to older men to make money to help their families survive.
More Than Me pays for the scholarships of girls to go to private school where they can get a quality education and be protected from the dangers of Liberia. We cause them to value their minds rather than their bodies, to have stability and growth in their lives, and to have dreams for their futures! We pay for their education, school supplies, uniforms, and lunches (which are usually their only meal of the day). More Than Me has been around for 3 years and have put 100 girls into school so far, and we are currently planning the building of a Girls Academy for our students to go to school during the day, and then stay after school and off the streets longer while learning vocational skills, leadership, etiquette, and have recreational programs. I am so proud to say that I work for such an amazing organization that changes lives the way that More Than Me has!
So here’s where my story with More Than Me began. The founder, Katie Meyler, grew up in my church. When I was home on Thanksgiving break, my sister, Jessica Schroeder, told me that Katie invited our youth group to help do flash mob in New York City to help promote a voting contest for the non-profit. To be honest, the main reason I did it was to cross “Dance in a flash mob” off my Life List… but that day ended up changing my life and opening my eyes to the value of what More Than Me does. By the way, “Write a blog” is on that list, so this is a pretty big moment for me! Anyway, after learning our dance to “Run The World” by Beyonce on the train ride into the city, dancing in Washington Square, and hopping subway cars to hand strangers voting cards to help us win $25,000, Katie asked me to intern for More Than Me. I immediately agreed! In the 12 hours that I was with her that day, something sparked in me that made me want to learn as much as I could about the More Than Me students, the dangers of Liberia, and how education can change these girls’ lives! Since then, I brought More Than Me to Ithaca College and raised enough money to pay for 18 years of schooling in Liberia with the much needed and much appreciated help of a dozen amazing students that offered to fundraise with me! I have a lot of plans to expand More Than Me this fall semester, but you’ll read about that in another entry.
It is incredible to think that my dream is becoming a reality in only a couple days. I can’t stop thinking about how I want to love on everyone I meet, take tons of pictures, and come home forever changed! Thank you SO MUCH for being interested enough to read about my journey and the lives of the More Than Me girls. Feel free to comment, ask questions, or make suggestions! I am so blessed and thankful to have such incredible support from so many people!
Thanks for reading about my More Than Me mission!