Monrovia, Liberia - On October 11, 2018, ProPublica and TIME Magazine published a report about the sexual assault and rape of girls in the care of an NGO based in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia. Since then I have been present with the news – no sharing on social media, a few conversations with trusted colleagues and FFW board members, sitting with the heart-breaking reality that an American NGO founded by a woman could have allowed this to happen to desperately poor and innocent girls striving to create a better future for themselves in this country. I have heard from many of you in the US, questioning how it could have happened and wondering if I’ll stay in Liberia and continue my work in a place I have called home for 12 years.
Good news from Liberia!! From this to this!
Fire disaster in July - Hospital rebuilt by October. Thank you Foundation for Women friends and supporters! Your contributions and support help make this possible. We're so grateful for our FFW community!
Check out this article from the Daily Observer in Liberia about Benson Hospital and FFW partnering for community clinics and the fire :
Your generosity is making a difference immediately! We have raised several thousand dollars and construction work has begun. Every dollar makes a difference. I once again invite you to join me in this campaign. Benson Hospital is a critical hub for our FFW Community Health Clinic Project.
Please join me today by clicking on this link: http://www.foundationforwomen.org/take-action.html and pressing the donate button. Or email Cory at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail in your donation to PO Box 2786, La Jolla, CA 92038. Questions please call 858-483-0400.
The Founder and CEO of the Foundation for Women, Ms. Deborah Lindholm, upon learning of the fire that destroyed the top floor of the Benson Hospital, made a commitment to raise fund for the restoration work at the hospital. Today, she wants to make good on her commitment by presenting a check of Thirteen Thousands United States Dollars (US$13,000.00). In fact, this is the second donation towards this renovation exercise. Earlier this month, while the Benson's were in the United States, Deborah made an initial donation of US$7,000.00.
With this presentation of $13,000.00 today, the Foundation for Women is pleased to announce that US$20,000.00 in total has been raised and turned over to the Benson Hospital to be used for the renovation work at the Hospital.
One week ago, I was preparing to leave Liberia after being there for nearly four months to launch our third product, FFW Community Health Clinics. We are assembling a Network of Excellence of health clinics surrounding a hub, Benson Hospital. And we are launching our first clinic in one of our partner schools. The Foundation for Women is now supporting microfinance for individuals, low fee independent schools, and now health clinics - creating a model of support for income generation for families, enhancing education, and raising the quality of healthcare. That morning a week ago, I received a call from one of our staff people saying, "Ma Deborah, I have terrible news - Benson Hospital is burning down!" Complete disbelief and horror!
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!
Celebrating International Women's Day with the launch of the Deborah & Florence Education Fund for Girls
On this special day we want to officially announce the formation of the "Deborah & Florence Education Fund for Girls" which was birthed at the end of 2017 by a generous gift from long-time supporter and board member Janie Davis. Janie has two grandsons for whom she is arranging funding for their education. When we were together a few months ago, Janie expressed the desire to do something for girls as well as boys. She provided the initial gift which the Foundation for Women matched - so we now have $2000 in the account which we hope will grow to fund not just post-high school education for Deborah and Florence, but for many, many girls.
On this special day, I am inviting you to help us continue to offer microfinance and education support to women and girls by:
Globally the world celebrates International Women's Day today. The Foundation for Women acknowledges today as it has for the last two decades. From India to Africa to San Diego to now Liberia, we have been blessed and honored to celebrate and support more than a million women and their families all over the globe. And there is so much more to come!
It has been an amazing and blessed journey so far. As we embark on our third decade of service, we are committed more than ever to the knowing that we are indeed one human family, that we need to be present for and support each other. The Foundation for Women has been a bridge between those of us in the 20% of the population that share more than 90% of the wealth and the 20% of the population that shares less than 1% of the wealth. Please join with us today in standing with our global sisters.
Saturday, February 3, 2018 Monrovia, Liberia
After being here since mid-December, I was supposed to depart last evening for Brussels and then on to the US. A mechanical problem cancelled the flight so I have an unexpected additional day here – to host a birthday party for my namesake Deborah who turns 10 on Tuesday. Joy!
It has been an extraordinary time in Liberia! I was here for the US Presidential Election and Inauguration. I was here for the recent Liberia Presidential Election which concluded on December 26, 2017 and Inauguration last month. Great uncertainty and tribalism on both sides of the Atlantic. What is going on in the world??
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