Liberia - After 9 long months away due to COVID, I finally returned to Liberia in December and am very grateful to be here. We are perfecting a collective impact model for social change unlike anything anywhere. In celebration of this International Women’s Day 2021, I am reflecting on the millions of women and family members with whom we have been blessed to connect since our inception in the late 1990’s. An unbelievable journey, one I never could have imagined…
Monrovia, Liberia – FFW is committed to “Collective Impact” – working together with partners to achieve the greatest social impact, change, and justice. In keeping with this commitment, we recently formalized a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, the most noted expert in housing help globally. Habitat sought a partner in Liberia to help them bring their housing expertise to this country after leaving decades ago due to the unprecedented civil war. Of all possible partners, Habitat chose the Foundation for Women – a tremendous testimony to the quality of work we do and are known for in Liberia. Affordable safe housing is a huge challenge in this country of 5 million people, the majority of whom live well below the global poverty level of $2/day. The Foundation for Women has been helping this population since 2006 with individual microfinance and business support, with financial and business support to low-fee independent schools, and with financial and business support to independent community health clinics. By adding this 4th pillar of service, FFW will help women and their families with all aspects of their lives – business, education, healthcare, and now housing. We are excited to now offer this 4th level of support to the families of Liberia.
It has been an extraordinary year. Now more than ever it is time to help those in need. That is what the Foundation for Women does every single day. This holiday season you can change lives by joining with us:
Please join us in giving a gift that changes lives with any amount. We will let you know about the lives you changed. Donate now.
With love and gratitude,
Founder and CEO
Nothing about this year has been normal. As Americans, we have experienced upheaval and challenges beyond anything in recent human history. The global pandemic has changed the way we live and work and has disproportionately impacted millions of vulnerable people. Our country’s painful but necessary reckoning with the scourge of systemic racism has laid bare the changes we must make, long overdue, as citizens and as a country. These existential challenges remind me of the harrowing impact of the Ebola outbreak in 2015, when life as we knew it ended. For Liberians, the pain and trauma of 2020 echo in profound ways. In Liberia, we have a deep well of resilience – and the mission and work of the Foundation for Women is the living, breathing embodiment of this resilience, every day.
My treasured Liberian staff person Calvin called at noon today and asked, "Are you sitting down?" My response, "What’s wrong Calvin?" with a deep sense of dread. "Your dear friend Evelyn died today." "NO!" was all I could say…Evelyn and I have been friends for years. She lives alone in a small dirt-floor shack house around the corner from my home in Liberia. She would walk passed my front door daily with her plastic bucket filled with small things she tried to sell to anyone she encountered along the beach, her only source of "small-small" money. I often bought all the small bags of nuts and candies she had in her bucket, carefully counting out the total in Liberian dollars; always the equivalent of just a few US dollars. I would bring the treats to our FFW office and share them with the team, all of whom know of my dear friendship with Evelyn.
Anyone joining our FFW Circle of Giving will have the option of being connected to family in Liberia, just like our friend, banker and long-time supporter Jennifer:
"Nearly four years ago, Deborah and the Foundation for Women connected me to the father of a family of four daughters in Liberia; one of the most impoverished countries on planet earth. At the time, the family had not eaten in days. I have provided financial support to the family, and every time I have an opportunity, I send a package of “essentials.” When I ask what the family needs, the priorities are internet/phone, toothpaste, soap, diaper cream, and candy for the kids. Imagine!"
Foundation for Women was recently endorsed by the Rotary Action Group for Microfinance and Community Development and featured in their online member communications. Here is the full article:
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect every corner of the global economy, the impact of the virus on weak health systems and economies is only beginning to be foreshadowed. Countries with comparatively strong health systems have been catastrophically challenged by the pandemic, and as the virus spreads to poor countries, concern about the looming health crisis grows. In Liberia, where over 3 million people live below the poverty line, 97% of households do not have clean water or soap and access to personal protective measures and behaviors (such as masks, cleaning supplies, and social distancing) is almost impossible. The country sinks deeper into a compounding cycle of poverty and ill-health with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The healthcare system is woefully ill-prepared to manage a spike in critical cases. The country only has 6 ventilators.
Deborah Featured in the San Diego Union Tribune "Phenomenal San Diego women in advocacy and empowerment"
Deborah was part of a wonderful article in the San Diego Union Tribune about phenomenal San Diego women in advocacy and empowerment.
“If you empower a man, you empower one person,” Deborah Lindholm once told the Union-Tribune. “If you empower a woman, you empower her entire family.”
That’s the formula behind microfinance — small loans to fledgling female entrepreneurs — that Lindholm and the nonprofit Foundation for Women have been using since 1997 to ease poverty in San Diego, India and now Liberia. She was drawn to the work after seeing how a $4 loan in India — used to buy a comb, a pair of scissors and a mirror and start a barber business — helped a woman buy a home and send her children to school. The program, started in Lindholm’s Coronado living room and patterned after the work of Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus, has helped more than 1 million women so far. Read the full article online: sandiegouniontribune.com.
We greatly appreciate your support of our COVID19 Food Campaign - and so many more are awaiting help from FFW. We have become known for this food security campaign. $25 feeds a family of 5 for two months. Please help us help more. Visit our website to help today!
Keep reading for an update and stories from our FFW Liberia Director, Magnus.
Our office in Liberia has turned into a food distribution center, helping thousands so far. Please see the faces of the first grateful recipients and please help us to continue to feed those who have no food. $25 feeds a family of 5 for 2 months in Liberia. Donate on our website today!
Keep reading for pictures from our first food distribution!
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