Ebola is back. The World Health Organization declared the Ebola epidemic over in January of this year. A 30-year old woman in Liberia became the most recent Ebola statistic. The virus has now claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people in the last 28 months.
La Jolla, CA - Two years ago this month Ebola began its unprecedented impact on the people and country of Liberia. Thousands of people became infected. Thousands of people died. Nearly 5000 people survived, only to face an unbelievable reality – life with tremendous loss.
I am deeply touched by this recent article in the New York Times "Ebola, Ruthless to Families, Leaves Liberian Man Alive and Alone". I know many Ebola survivors. Yes they thank God for their good fortune, but trying to make a new normal after Ebola is not easy.
I am working closely with the men who ran the crematorium from August – December 2014 at the height of the crisis. They are heroes, not just for Liberia but for the world. Without their heroic efforts, who knows how the virus would have continued to spread, who know how much higher the death toll. Yet the men of Marshall are now outcasts; cremation in Liberia is viewed as sending a person to hell.
La Jolla, CA - I started today as I do every Tuesday when I am not in Liberia. At 7:00AM here in California I answer a Skype request from Anna and say hello to my dear Liberian team. Soon we ask our partners at Edify to join us. We begin a weekly global business meeting, all together thanks to Skype.
Before we began today’s agenda, our Foundation for Women Liberia COO David brought up the recent terrorist attacks in the Ivory Coast and then yesterday in Mali. He mentioned that there is a heightened security awareness now in West Africa; it is all very close to home now. We offered a pray for peace in the world, not knowing at that moment terrorists were striking again – this time in the heart of Brussels, the subway system and the airport. So many dead.
La Jolla, CA - I just received the most wonderful phone call from my friend Jerome who headed the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in Liberia following the senseless and completely destructive civil war. The US Government has granted his asylum request! I wrote about Jerome and his story in my latest book, soon to be published, Trust & Transformation. When we first met in Texas in October 2015, I was overwhelmed by what I heard from him when I asked the simple question over lunch: How did you get to Indiana? This is what I heard – which completely blew me away…
La Jolla, CA - OMG the contrast between last weekend in Liberia and this weekend in La Jolla, and several days in Geneva, IL in between – dramatic! We are all sharing one planet, with such diversity and extremes – and yet we are one human family. The extremes makes me realize how easy it is for separation, “them and us” instead of “we” which is our true reality.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday of this week, I am doing a life review. Since 1914, March 8th has been celebrated as International Women’s Day. I was not aware of this as a child, nor as a student or young adult, nor in my first professional career. It was only once the Foundation for Women was birthed and my focus turned to the issues of women and girls nearly 25 years ago did March 8th become a significant day in my world.
Monrovia, Liberia - I awoke today to find this very appreciated email from the Vice President’s Chief of Staff in my inbox. I am so grateful!
Monrovia, Liberia - La Jolla – OMG the contrast… I have been back here in my African home much of this month and my heart is bursting with joy and gratitude! Every moment here is filled with people and projects and conversations and relationships and experiences I love and treasure! Read on for a review of projects!
Foundation for Women Liberia Office Monrovia - Two years ago today, we made a major change in our work in Liberia. The Chief of Staff for the Vice President orchestrated a separation between our former Executive Director here and the organization. Never in any of our wildest dreams would we have thought such a thing would happen.
Today it is clear that God’s hand was in place and directing all; a new direction and new leadership were essential. Instead of heading for certain dissolution of the organization, we are thriving in Liberia! Two and a half years ago, our partnership with Edify in support of providing microfinance to low fee independent schools (LFIS) was birthed. Despite months of havoc due to the Ebola crisis, the program is a huge success and growing daily. We have more than 60 partner schools, touching thousands of children in Liberia by improving their schools. We add 5-6 new partner schools every month so we will have more than 100 soon; a remarkable accomplishment despite such challenges here.
Just after midnight in Monrovia - I just received word from my driver Calvin that he has my three bags in his possession, those checked in at the San Diego airport for Liberia nearly one week ago. It was not safe for me to go to the airport at this time of night here, so I waited… Calvin’s call just now: “This plane is loaded and I am on my way!” That meaning, my bags are in our FFW vehicle and on the way to the hotel. Joy, as they are filled with computers and needed office supplies and medical supplies, and birthday presents and so much needed here in Liberia.
Newark Airport, New Jersey USA - I was to be in Liberia today, hosting an 8th birthday party for my namesake Deborah. Instead I am stuck here since Thursday due to a mechanical failure on the plane from Chicago to Brussels. And since Brussels Air is the only carrier that can take me to and from Liberia now post-Ebola, I have no option but to breathe and wait. Hopefully tonight I will be able to fly overnight to Brussels and then connect to the Sunday Brussels flight to Monrovia
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.