Narrow Gate Exchange is available to qualified young men between the ages of 18-25 who are working in cooperation with a qualified NPO Affiliate. NG Exchange students are required to visit the US and attend a 60-day intensive program (in English) where they will receive personal discipleship and high-quality training on proper maintenance/operation of a Wood-mizer sawmill. Attendees also work on developing their skills as woodworkers, business plan development and becoming more effective disciplemakers in the process.
What are the qualifications to become a NG Exchange Student? We are looking for young men ages 18-25 who possess a love for Jesus, are committed to seeing their country and communities thrive, and possess a desire to learn skills to launch a business that will provide jobs and economic benefit to their local community. Students should possess the following: A desire to return to their country and see their communities transformed; dexterity when using their hands or perhaps actual “hands-on” experience or aptitude with making things with their hands; ‘leadership skills’ or the ability to ‘teach others’; an aptitude of running machinery and/or running a business is a huge plus…as is demonstraing an “entreprenuerial spirit”
Want to find out more about where our students will be staying?
Narrow Gate Exchange Students
Sie Dweh Freeman - Liberia
Read Sie Dweh’s testimony
I was born in 1996 in Maryland County, Liberia. At the age of seven I lost my biological mother. She was pregnant at the time. My mother was a business woman and she often traveled across the border to Ivory Coast to do business. On one of these trips she was captured by the Ivorian rebels and they killed her. A year later I lost my father, who died from an illness. My father was a pastor in the Methodist church.
Following the death of my parents, I lived with my brothers and sisters. We worked on the farm and grew rice. I did not have the opportunity to go to school until I was ten years old. The school had very poor standards. There was little discipline among the students and I did not learn very much. Because I could not speak English, only speak the Grebo dialect, my future was limited.
One of my uncles helped me enroll in a better school and I started to learn English. I learned quickly. I was growing fast, and I was always tall for my age. The next year, my older sister invited me to go to Ivory Coast with her. She was very good to me.
At the age of 13, I moved back to Liberia. My uncle, Rev. S. Sie Freeman, invited me to live with his family in Monrovia so that I could go to school. But first, he had me go to Harper, Maryland’s capital, so that I could get used to a bigger town with cars and more people. After one month in Harper, I moved to Monrovia to live with my uncle. I entered school in Grade 3. School was difficult for me and I didn’t feel like I had much success in Grade 3.
My Uncle S. Sie Freeman provided everything that I needed, and it wasn’t long before I considered him to be my own father. I quit looking for any other father figure. He was serving as the priest at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Monrovia. In July 2008, he was assigned to the St. Paul Episcopal Church in Greenville, Sinoe County.
When we arrived in Greenville, my mother (Sarah Freeman, wife of Father Freeman) put me in 6th grade. She told me that I had to study hard because, “You have such a big body to sit among those little children!” I said, “No problem!” and I studied every day, and I prayed to God to give me wisdom. In the middle of the school year I was given a promotion to grade 7. Before the school year came to an end I was promoted to grade 8. So, I was promoted twice in one year.
Grade 8 was difficult, but I persevered. In grade 9, things went much better and I did well. I passed the grade 9 WAEC (West African Examination Council) exam and was promoted to high school. I received the highest score in my school on the English language portion of the exam. My teachers always praised me for my ability in English.
The next year, in grade 10, I again did well. In grade 11, I faced some challenges, but not too much. More challenges came in grade 12. I had some serious toothaches that caused my head to feel like it was on fire. I went to the hospital, and I missed several days of school. This caused me to lose focus. Even though I joined a study group to prepare for the WAEC, I failed the mathematics part of the exam. I had to re-sit for the exam, and I passed on the second try. In 2014, I graduated from high school.
After graduation, I wanted to learn more about God. I never intended to be a pastor or priest, but I wanted God to be in everything I did. I completed a training course offered by a group from Hawaii in which I studied the Pauline Epistles, the early church, and I learned a lot about Jesus Christ. As God would have it, my scores were A’s and B’s, and I earned a certificate. From that training I learned the Bible, and gained the ability to stand up in church and speak the things of Christ. (In fact, there is a high possibility that I might be preaching in my church this Sunday because my father is out of town. I’ve done this many times in the past.)
When I was in 12th grade, I became acquainted with Innovative Education Liberia (IEL) when they held their program at the Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) school. I was one of the students selected for this computer workshop. I was very grateful. I didn’t expect to see IEL again, but a few months later they returned. By this time, I had graduated. My father asked if I wanted to be the facilitator for the IEL program in our school. He knew he could trust me to do the job. IEL brought us the first computers. I was in charge, I performed my work well, and I kept good records. I always give God the glory for these opportunities.
Life has its challenges, and this is good. When there are no challenges coming your way, you’ll never recognize the goodness of God. When challenges come and you ask help from God and he leads you through, then you know that there is God.
I want to say a big thank you to God and to IEL. When the IEL team would come each time, I wanted to be a part of the program. This past September, I had a call from Mr. Gary, who wanted to talk to me. When I met with him, he said he wanted me to go to the U.S. for training to learn to operate a sawmill and build furniture. I was very grateful to God. I went home and I prayed, “God what have I done for you that you have given me this blessing? I will only give you glory.” I am very happy. To God be the glory.
Owen Sarpee - Liberia
Owen Sarpee serves as Instructional Technology Assistant for IEL in the Sinoe County schools.
Prior to joining the IEL team, Owen served as co-supervisor for a project with the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Company. He also attended the University of Liberia to study Economics and Management. In 2011, he left university to go into the teaching field for a semester. After completing that semester, he attended computer training courses at the Broagnet Computer Services Foundation, obtaining a certificate in MS Word and Excel. From 2013-2014, Owen was a project supervisor at Munazamat Al-Dawa Al-Islamia Liberia Chapter.
In August 2016, Owen joined the IEL team as an intern and was hired full-time in February 2017. Owen is married with two sons (one adopted). He brings energy and creative thinking to the team.
Bright Mugumo - Uganda
Simon Mwandra - Uganda
My name is Simon Mwandra born 1987 and married in church to Mariam with one kid. I lost my both parents at age of 12yrs old and I was taken up by Mr James Sam Mugweri the chairman Board of Heart and Hands Foundation. Mr. Mugweri helped me get educated through High School and College Prep. Then, I decided to join the construction school where I attained skills in building. I can now build and roof a house on my own!
I love to work with my hands; something that has helped me to feed and support my family. I do serve in church as youth leader. The training I am going to attain in the U.S. will help me in getting more skills to enable me to help other young people at HHF school and communities.
Ratu Lagani Koroi - Fiji
Born in 1991, a chiefs son, in a small village on the island Gau. Lagani grew up farming and finished high school and continued on as a commercial farmer. Lagani loves the Lord and works with the Methodist church in the youth program as a leader. He is looking forward to all he will learn in the United States and then being able to help those in Fiji.
Ratu Josaia Bulavakarua - Fiji
Emmanuel Mensah - Ghana
I am Emmanuel Mensah, and I am 28 years. My parents are Mr. Anthony Mensah and Ms. Lydia Botwe, both petty traders in Ateiku, a rural community in the Western Region of Ghana. As petty traders in a rural community, they lived on a meager income that could barely cater for our family.
Notwithstanding, they were determined to help their children to live a better life than they were living. Therefore, they decided to help me attain basic and high school education in order to better my lot. Therefore, after my basic education, I was enrolled at Takoradi Technical Institute to pursue mechanical engineering.
My parents are God fearing people and therefore they instilled in me a God fearing attitude. However, I came to know God personally when I heard the Ateiku church of Christ preaching the word of God, which is able to reform a man from his wicked ways.
It was at this time that I surrendered my life to Christ. The church did not only offer me eternal hope but also employed me. Since then I have been working with the church as a maintenance officer. It is my dream and prayer that I will improve my knowledge and working skills to better my living standard in order to contribute to the growth of the kingdom of God.
Sampson Tachie - Ghana
I am Sampson Techie, and I am 28 years old. My parents are Mr. Francis Yeboah and Ms. Agnes Yankey, peasant farmers in Ateiku, a remote community in the Western Region of Ghana.
As peasant farmers, their meager income could barely take care of our family. However, in spite of the economic disadvantage of our family, I was determined not to become a delinquent child, therefore after my basic and high school education, I learned how to use a drilling rig in drilling water wells to assist me to earn a sustainable income in the future.
I also knew that I could not do this with my own strength, therefore I decided to trust in God to lead me through those difficult times. In my desire to trust God for His protection and help, I heard the Ateiku church of Christ during one of their soul winning campaigns for Christ. After I have listened to the message they presented, I decided to give myself to Christ. This brought hope to my hopeless situation.
The church assisted me to know Christ and gave me hope by employing me as a maintenance officer. I have been working with the church since 2013. It is my desire to improve my knowledge and skill to help me to lead a meaningful life as a child of God.