I awoke this morning to an email from dear friend David in Liberia – Ma Frances passed yesterday Wednesday, August 13, 2015 at the age of 96. I have loved Ma Frances since the moment I met her nine years ago this summer in Los Angeles. She is love – and my role model – I want to be just like her.
La Jolla - I was to be in Liberia today for this very special day. One year ago today, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency due to Ebola, August 8, 2014. I was the last person to leave the Kendeja Hotel in Monrovia that day – leaving abruptly, having options when so many around me had none, leaving all my belongings behind – certain I would be back shortly… doorman Michael asked me to pray that they would all be alive when I came back… tremendous fear…
Last week was the first time the three most affected West African nations recorded no new cases of Ebola since the unprecedented crisis began in March 2014. According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than 11,000 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There is no assurance that the disease is complete. Liberia had been declared free of the disease in May 2015 when a flare up occurred in June. It is now disease-free for the second time. The impact on Deborah and her sister Florence and cousins Mattie and Ingrid has been tremendous. Schools were closed for six months. Simple human touch – a handshake or a hug – has all but disappeared. Deborah no longer shares her lunch or water with friends at school. Her classroom holds fewer children, all of whom must sit further apart than before Ebola; many children have not returned to school.
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.