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 - 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 - Yesterday I was astonished to read a recent report listing the 10 worst countries on the planet for women and girls – some places of course yes, one big surprise!
After spending much of our Foundation for Women service in India beginning in the middle 1990’s, it is heart-breaking to see that India is the #1 worst place for women and girls. Then come expected countries – Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nigeria. Then #10 completely astonished me – the United States of America!
I wonder how to explain this to the women and girls of Liberia, where 75% of the women in this country are raped; a statistic that began during the decades of war and has not diminished since peace came in 2003. And where 80% of the population are living in dire poverty, particularly women and girls.
And what is happening in America that the US is in the company of these other countries on this list?
When are we going to realize that we are One Human Family and treat each other with dignity and respect and love? We must hold that light, regardless of how challenging this current time is for women and girls. And we must do something in whatever way we can to change this reality.
My gratefulness quote yesterday:
"Correct with kindness and love but also with zeal and holy freedom. If you do not speak out, if you do not sound the alarm when it is needed, you will be justly convicted by your silence."
Please see the report at http://poll2018.trust.org. ~ Deborah
I have been here more than two months now and am today reviewing my calendar since arriving. It is not easy being in Liberia... I focus on my gratitude list daily - and there is lots to celebrate, which is what keeps me here.
The FFW Community Health Clinic Project is happening! We funded the first 5 clinics this week; they all agreed to join our Network of Excellence in partnership with Benson Hospital. There are 70+ community clinics in the area around Benson Hospital so we are just beginning.
As we are bringing together clinics for this first-ever Network of Excellence, we are preparing to open the first FFW Clinic in one of our partner schools. Construction is underway at Henry Reeves Jr/Sr High School and is expected to be complete by the end of this month for our planned opening in July! This is the result of a great collective impact approach involving FFW, Benson Hospital, Care 2 Communities, and one of our treasured school partners. Together we are better!
Letters from Liberia: World Bank Funding has arrived and FFW Liberia Honored at Liberian Government MSME Launch!
At 6am this morning, I had a conversation with our FFW Liberia COO David Beyan with tremendous news. After working with the World Bank and the Central Bank of Liberia forever it seems, yesterday funding to expand our microcredit portfolio was deposited into our account. Today there was a special program in recognition of this post-Ebola support and Foundation for Women Liberia was the star!!
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!
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