Thursday, April 23, 2020 San Diego, CA - Today is a very special day. Twenty-two years ago today, the Foundation for Women offered its first public program. Hundreds of women came to that first event. Over the years thousands of women and several special men have joined with us in support of poverty eradication and social justice. We can truly say that we have positively impacted more than 25 million people living in dire poverty - and we are just getting started. In July 2019 I brought my son Moses from Liberia to America to begin college. A few days after we arrived, we attended a celebration of life for a woman in San Diego who was a major friend to Liberia.
Within moments of arriving at the gathering, Moses asked me, "Mommy, may I please go say hello to Uncle Samuel?" Moments later Samuel Mayson was standing next to me for the first time in seven years, though his family has been a beyond dear part of my life since 2006. We made arrangements to have a conversation the following day before he flew home to Baltimore - and we have not stopped speaking since that first conversation. On December 3, 2019 we were married in front of my home in Liberia next to the ocean surrounded by treasured family and friends. A God-thing as Moses says. My life has changed completely. And now the world has changed completely.
Monrovia, Liberia - An ordinary day in Liberia, as Thanksgiving here is celebrated on the first Thursday in November. Liberia copied much from America, including this holiday, and then chose their way.
I awoke today to a huge sea, big waves and tide outside my home - and prayed that all the sadness and division in the world might be washed away and healed by Mother Earth, that we may one day realize we are indeed one human family and join hands with each other in love, compassion, and peace for the benefit of all beings and this planet. And in addition to my prayer and meditation and intention time, I shared my thanks for my treasured human family wherever I went today. Thanks to founding FFW member Loie Morris, her phrase "I love you more than tongue can tell" is used here now so often, just as I brought the word "FABULOUS!" to this totally wrecked country so many years ago. People here are FABULOUS and I love them more than tongue can tell!
Today I brought a special cake to our office in celebration of Amelia's birthday - she is not only a treasured member of our team for years, but is also mother of my namesake Deborah and her adopted sister Florence. JOY!
Monrovia, Liberia - It is not just women - it is all members of our treasured human family that we serve. I read this quote today from a treasured teacher;
"Individuals who choose to love can and do alter our lives in ways that honor the primacy of a love ethic. We do this by choosing to work with individuals we admire and respect; by committing to give our all to relationships; by embracing a global vision wherein we see our lives and our fate as intimately connected to those of everyone else on the planet. Commitment to a love ethic transforms our lives by offering us a different set of values to live by. In large and small ways, we make choices based on a belief that honesty, openness, and personal integrity need to be expressed in public and private decisions." ~ Bell Hooks.
Love is the only way. And yes, we are indeed one human family, as I have Known my entire life.
It's Thanksgiving day in Liberia! Deborah and some of our FFW Liberia staff are feeding families for only $14. The impact of $14. That is front and center for me on this holiday here. $14 buys a big 25 kg bag of rice which will feed many for many days; the staple of the Liberian diet. On Monday staff person Calvin and I filled the FFW car with bags of rice and delivered to our staff at the FFW school clinic and then to the office for our fabulous team. Then I had Calvin deliver a bag to the family who housed Moses the last several years he was here before departing for college in America.
Monrovia, Liberia - As I am nearing the end of my time here once again, leaving next Monday to bring Moses to college in America, I am reflecting on the specialness of these two beings of light – and how “It’s a God-thing” as we all say here that we are connected. Victor Frankl discusses in one of my most treasured books ever, Man’s Search for Meaning, “…human beings’ motive is not money or even happiness, but for meaning. We are driven above all to understand the purpose of our lives. Once that is understood even the most miserable conditions cannot upend inner peace.”
Monrovia, Liberia - A Moses is Going to College in America Celebration! Over thirty people gathered tonight, Moses’ biological family and chosen family, to celebrate him and his amazing accomplishment of having been accepted to ten universities in America. He has chosen Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania where he will study computer science.
Monrovia, Liberia - Ten days ago, I shared the unbelievably awful news of the sudden death of a beautiful 6-year-old girl named Precious. She had just graduated from KII and was on her way to 1st grade with such great joy! A very big graduation celebration here in Liberia. That was June 29th. July 4th Precious died in the leading hospital in this country of yellow fever; no ability to help and no medicine here. My outrage and sadness has been tremendous, my heart so broken.
Then tonight I met hope manifested by her parents, Franklin and his wife Mary. And I was beyond blessed to meet their new baby daughter, Marylin – parents Mary and Franklin combined their names which is common here in Liberia.
When I first graduated from college and then graduate school, I opted to teach for several years in return at the time for the cancellation of my accumulated college debt. Armed with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education and counseling, I first went to work for Northwestern University’s Laboratory School in Evanston, IL in America. I had so wanted to take a post at an inner-city all black school on the south side of Chicago, but my father put his foot down with a firm NO – and for some reason I obeyed him. Looking back now, I wonder why…So, I went to the north side of Chicago to the largely affluent suburb of Evanston, which had an integrated population for many years, and economic extremes. My assignment was a special education class for “emotionally disturbed” children. OMG that label haunts me now. I had perhaps 10 students, primarily children of color. Despite big challenges, we loved each other as a family. Joy is my remembrance.
Monrovia, Liberia - I opened my email yesterday morning to find a message from my dear friend Franklin "I am now in tears mommy, my daughter graduated from K2 on June 29 and died July 4."
He took his daughter to the biggest government hospital here on Wednesday. She died Thursday morning. He told me it was yellow fever, a disease that is transmitted by an infected mosquito and easily prevented by a vaccination. Like malaria, yellow fever lives where poverty lives. Inflation is at a historic nearly 25% - where people can no longer afford to buy cold water or rice – where hospitals have no medicine.
The Foundation for Women cannot solve all the problems of the world. We can however bring some light to the darkness. This week we celebrated the first 8 months of operation of the Liberia Community Health Clinic, our first attempt at bringing quality healthcare to the 1000+ students at one of our partner schools.
Monrovia, Liberia - It feels like Ebola time. Fear. Wonderment. Confusion. Prayers.
I am one of only a very few people staying in my familiar Liberian compound/home, a place with a capacity for perhaps 200 and usually full of life and joy; as in addition to guests from elsewhere, so many local people come to the Kendeja to enjoy the pool and beach and very special seaside setting. It is a sacred place. And today it is empty. The one major airline that serves Liberia whose crew stays here, Brussels Air, is gone until at least Sunday – even though they kept coming during the long civil war and Ebola; not now.
About the Author
Deborah Lindhom is the Founder and CEO of the Foundation for Women. For over 20 years she has lived and worked in Africa, India and the United States on issues of poverty, education and microcredit.
"Just a quick note to say how we appreciate all that you are doing in Liberia and wish we could do more to help. We enjoy reading your newsletters which are always so well written.
All the best!" ~ Ian and Julie Allen, Africa and Beyond Art Gallery