If Mike Miller ’11 doesn’t do his job, 55,000 young people in Liberia may not eat today.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” he says.
Miller is the head of finance in Liberia for Mary’s Meals, a worldwide charity that has one goal – to provide hungry children with at least one meal each school day.
For many of the children in Liberia, Miller says, “it may not be their only meal, but it’s definitely their best meal.”
Adjusting to life in an African country is not exactly what Miller thought he would be doing when he graduated from Simpson with an accounting degree.
But a conversation two years ago in Des Moines with Magnus MacFarlane, one of the founders of Mary’s Meals, eventually led to the position.
“I was quite lucky,” Miller says. “I never expected to do anything like that. It worked out perfectly that I could actually find a paid position doing something that I love.”
The transition wasn’t easy. He lives in Tubmanburg, about an hour from Monrovia, the nation’s capital.
“I could list a thousand things, like roads and air conditioning and the way police act and the way the government acts, that are nicer” in the United States, he says. “It’s really hard to describe the difference. Liberia is poor even compared to other West Africa countries.”
The work was a challenge as well. Miller is in charge of all the money received and spent in Liberia for Mary’s Meals. He also orders all the food, which is distributed to 200 schools, including those in the remotest parts of the country.
“All the classes I took at Simpson contributed to having this type of job,” he says. “You have to learn to think on your own. I had to develop a much more sophisticated accounting system. As much as I learned in my accounting classes, they didn’t teach me how to do that.”
The pay off comes when Miller leaves his office and heads to a school, hearing the excited schoolchildren shout “Mary’s Meals!” when they see the delivery truck.
“That’s the rewarding part.”