Carolyn A. Miller Elementary School

Carolyn A. Miller Elementary School (CAMES) was founded in 2003 with the mission to provide a tuition-free education for the neediest children living on the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. Many of these students are orphans or unaccompanied minors who were separated from their parents while fleeing the war. However, even families still left intact find it very difficult to feed their children on a regular basis, let alone pay for school tuition, supplies, and uniforms.

Growing up in extreme poverty through both Liberian civil wars, Karrus Hayes understood the unique educational needs of the refugee children living in Buduburam. With nothing to call his own except an incredible vision, he rallied community support, borrowed $50 USD and accepted donated space from his church to start the first tuition-free school for some of Liberia’s most vulnerable children.

In the beginning, students eagerly packed themselves into low-ceilinged, bamboo-partitioned, sweltering rooms. However, by 2005, the school was beyond maximum capacity at 150 students. It became apparent that CAMES needed more space than the local parish could provide. With little funds but the need for a new venue, Karrus found an abandoned building with no roof and a dirt floor. Though many could hardly imagine this becoming a functioning school, Karrus and the children of CAMES shared a common vision – new classrooms with desks and a library full of books.

In an international effort known as Ten Days Mission, this once dilapidated building morphed into a clean conducive atmosphere for learning, with modern conveniences such as electricity, running water and flush toilets. Nine classrooms now cradle more than 500 energetic children in pursuit of an education, while the dedicated staff teaches a rigorous curriculum of English, Mathematics, Science, French, Religious Morals and Education, Drama, and an Introduction to Computers course.

After school activities include a number of sports programs, a pen-pal exchange, and several social clubs which are supported by faculty, volunteers and the Parent Teacher Association. In addition to providing a solid education, effective September 2007, CAMES incorporated a School Feeding Program (Niapele Project). For many of these students it is the only meal they receive on a regular basis.

Carolyn A. Miller High School

The Carolyn A. Miller High School was founded in October of 2007 in response to the dire need of elementary school graduates to be able to continue their education and for other adolescent refugees who had been out of school due to lack of funds. This new opportunity is vital for the poorest of the poor and is the lifeline for the most vulnerable children in Buduburam.

The Carolyn A. Miller High School currently employs 17 instructors and 2 support staff. They in turn provide 250 students with a tuition-free education for Grades 7-11 and will incorporate grade 12 in 2008. A special focus of this institution is to prepare its students for the West African Examinations which occur in grades 9 and 12. Currently, the pass rate of this standardized exam is around 5% for Buduburam refugees. Students must pass the Grade 12 Exam in order to receive high school graduate certification.

In addition to a rigorous curriculum, these students are offered the opportunity to engage in after-school activities ranging from drama to music to sports to the debate team.

Carolyn A. Miller Community College

The Carolyn A. Miller Community College was founded in 2005 in order to provide post secondary students a means to further their education. Courses are held in the afternoon from 1:30-5:30 at the Carolyn A. Miller Elementary School. All students receive an ID card and diploma upon completion of their studies.

Areas of Study Offered

    • School of Business Studies
      – Accounting
      – Management
      – Marketing
      – Business Administration
      – Human Resource Management
      – Computer Science
    • School of Theology
      – Bible
      – Theology
      – Intercultural Studies
    • Information Technology
      – Hardware
      – Networking
      – Software (Auto CAD, Corel Draw, Office Suite, Adobe Photoshop, Computer Programming)
    • School of Business Journalism
  • Vocational Training – Carpentry
    – Masonry
    – Interior Design
    – Tailoring

Adult Literacy Program

Many Liberian adults have completed little to no formal education due to the war or simply because they do not have the financial means to pay for an education. VAAFD provides a free opportunity for adults on the Buduburam Refugee Camp to learn and practice English. Teachers enable students to develop a basic understanding of English through written and oral communication exercises.

Youth Empowerment and Scholarship Program

It is estimated that 80-90% of the children on the camp do not attend school. Many do not attend because of tuition fees and basic school costs (books, writing utensils, uniforms, etc.). Although the Carolyn A. Miller schools are tuition-free, they cannot possibly accept everyone. This program provides limited scholarships to deserving children who cannot attend elementary or high school. Also works in collaboration with Two Steps Forward, an organization that sponsors selected children for their books, school supplies, exam fees, etc.