I have been back “home” here in Liberia for a week now – and am wondering why I ever leave… Every time I return, I immediately step back into the love of this West African nation; despite the challenging circumstances, love is everywhere. Oretha greets me each morning as I complete my workout in the gym. Karpo and Etta and Claire and Louisa welcome me to breakfast – and James makes my regular scrambled eggs with cheese and tomorrow. Korto and Seema and Princess and Chris and their front desk team offer warm “Good Morning Deborah!” wishes as I leave the RLJ Kendeja – and greet driver Calvin. I regularly tell Calvin that he needs to clone himself as “I need a Calvin in Liberia and a Calvin in America!”
The greeting on the Foundation for Women office door here reads, “WELCOME HOME DEBORAH!! ALWAYS FABULOUS TO HAVE YOU HERE!!!” Love.
I am so blessed to be connected to this extraordinary group of dedicated professionals who have helped to make the Foundation for Women Liberia the leading microfinance organization in this country. Along with our treasured partners Edify and the University of San Diego, we are touching the lives of thousands and thousands of people in this country – a country that so deserves goodness and joy after so much challenge and pain.
I have come this time for many reasons. I am helping to welcome a team from the University of San Diego (USD), their 6th visit here over the last few years, to once again train 30 of our school partners in the best educations practices. 60 people will complete the training making a total of 120 schools/240 people trained. Really fabulous!
In addition, I brought my mentee, Patricia Wakhusama, from the Kroc School of Peace at USD to intern with us for ten weeks. Patricia is from Kenya and has completed the first of two years in a masters in peace and justice program. We are delighted to have her with us! Among other things, she will do a program evaluation of the FFW-Edify partnership, gathering data regarding the impact of the school loan funding, the USD training, and other support offered the schools due to our partnership.
We are also adding a third product to our portfolio. We are beginning a partnership with HealthStore.org, an organization that has worked in Kenya for nearly 20 years providing quality community health care via a franchise model developed after Subway Sandwich. Each community clinic offers the same limited menu of health services, services which can handle 70-80% of the issues that kill people in the developing world. The first ten clinics will surround Benson Hospital as a hub for handing cases which cannot be solved at the clinic level. We are thrilled to be a part of creating better health care in post-Ebola Liberia!
I arrived in Liberia with more skateboards and 60 helmets donated by the Tony Hawk Foundation. We have a wonderful commitment from them – they will donate a helmet for every skateboard donated to the Skateboard Liberia Project! FABULOUS! The dream of bringing skateboarding to this country and beyond is becoming a reality!
All this in addition to the continued work of the Foundation for Women here – providing microfinance loans to women for income generating activities so they can better provide for themselves and their families and providing microfinance loans to low fee independent schools to enhance their work and attract more children to their schools. Liberia has the largest percentage of school age children out of school of any country on the planet; 375,000 children. We must change that statistic!
In my meditation and quiet reading time this morning, two things struck me deeply and have been the focus of this day:
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you love.” Rumi
“Life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward.” OPTION B by Sheryl Sandberg/COO Facebook
With love and gratitude from Liberia,
“Faith is our assurance that there is a Divine plan of infinite love at work even in the most challenging moments, and that we are a part of that plan. Faith gives us the confidence to move ahead with vast visions in the face of enormous odds; it is an invitation to work in active partnership with the Divine in service of a better world.” - Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership