We can now report that all FUEL Youth team members have made it home to Washington, DC, safely (Edward stayed a couple weeks longer), but we’ve got even better news… FUEL Youth has officially been granted 501c3 status from the IRS!!! Needless to say, the FUEL Youth team is absolutely thrilled with this news, as the 501c3 process has been a long and sometimes tedious one for our group of non-lawyers. We are very excited to see what the future has in store for our young nonprofit. In the immediate future, FUEL Youth will be pulling together all of the photos, videos, information and stories from our recent trip to Liberia for an event with our friends and supporters here in the Washington DC area, so stay tuned for more information on that….
Let’s update you on our last day in Liberia! It was definitely a bittersweet day. We headed out to Gardnersville for one last hurrah at UCA. When we got there, all of the kids and teachers had gathered in the auditorium. We began to get a little suspicious of what they had planned for our last day at school. Songs commenced, and shortly thereafter, FUEL Youth was presented with certificates of appreciation for our work at UCA. The gifts did not stop there though! One by one, each member of the team was gowned with Liberian outfits…bright tie-dyed orange, green, and brown fabrics made into two piece outfits- very becoming! We’re hoping there will be an opportunity to sport our new threads in the DC area in the near future. After being gowned in these spectacular outfits, Bendu- Eddie’s wife- presented us with yet another gorgeous outfit she had sewn for each of us. We were incredibly touched by everyone’s love and kindness. The kids ended the program in song, one class singing, “we hope to see you in January 2009!” And they very well might
After the program ended, we had to start the difficult process of saying good-bye to the wonderful community of UCA and Gardnersville. Our hearts absolutely sank as we climbed in the car and waved good-bye to our new family and friends. We headed back to Vivien’s to pack up all of our belongings, then began the caravan to the airport. It was getting dark by the time we got there, but we still had an hour or two to spare, so Mansour (The lovely Lebanese man Ali stayed with on her last journey to Liberia) took us on a driving tour of the Firestone rubber factory and park, which was located right next to the airport. We then headed to the airport and did our last round of incredibly difficult good-byes to everyone. We definitely had to wipe some tears from our eyes as we waved and headed inside, but we also were leaving with a new-found sense of inspiration and excitement of the work and plans we have ahead of us for FUEL Youth!