Trying Small...

"Trying Small" is Liberian English for the best possible way to make change "try small". ...For those of you who have stuck with me for the past decade or three you know how hard it is for me to keep connected. I suffer from the "Last Mile Problem"...I get there and I work at full speed and then I can't seem to keep going...All the while you are with me 100% of the way. I hope in some way this makes up for that...for the long lag times in between.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My "TED Talks" Wish

For those of you who know "TED Talks" this will sound familiar. If you don't know "TED Talks",  I highly recommend checking them out because they are something to consider. Every year someone recives a TED Talks prize (100K) for their idea. The most recent winners have been: Bill Clinton and Bono for their work in Africa to fight HIV/AIDS and poverty. So, I may not be Bono or Bill but I do have an idea worth their consideration. Here it is...

In my short time in Liberia, I’ve spent a lot of it thinking about development. Be it economic, political, or any other kind, development inherently moves at a snail’s pace. We would all like to be able to point to rapid and drastic progress being made in terms of weeks and months (especially when your funding comes and goes at the whim of politicians on election cycles), but the fact remains that development timelines are measured in years, and most large-scale progress is only visible when you take a step back and look at how far
you’ve come over a longer period of time. But midway through my six month semi-anniversary here, and I started asking myself: what if this wasn’t the case? What if I could snap my fingers or blink my eyes and something about Liberia would be instantaneously changed. If I had that power, what would my one thing be? The answer: Universal Primary Education (that is actually free). This is pretty self explanatory. Health and education are the cornerstones of development, the two most important things, hands down. No one gets anywhere without them. Primary education in Liberia is not free and there is serious lack of qualified teachers and other resources (as in most developing countries).  I cannot tell you how many stories I’ve heard of students being sent home from school because their parents are unable to pay the $20 per year school fees. This needs to change. I support one girl that is the daughter of our caretaker. Her name is Martiline and she is bright and hard working and very good at math. I know it is not sustainable to support her for the long-term but, for the moment she is in school and excelling at her multiplication tables.
What if every Liberian girl had a chance at an education?  That is my wish.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inspiritation in Cross-Pollinating

As a nurse, I often find myself moved by the resilience of the people and communities who have faced the unthinkable. Every day I am inspired by the generosity of people who offer me their gratitude, a
kind word, or a simple meal. From my volunteer experiences in disaster and post-conflict settings, I have come to realize that health, in all forms, is the key to peace and social justice, both at home and in the developing world.

So, if you have something to share with me...please...please do so....I would love to hear from you and I can almost promise you that I will write back in 3 to 6 months. (just kidding)

Somewhere in the middle

To All My Family and Friends,

My apologies for dropping off the face of the earth for the past six months since i arrived in Liberia.
I have been silent for so long- trying small to figure out this place called Liberia.

I am somewhere in the middle tonight- on my way back to Liberia via Montreal and Brussels. But, I am indeed on a course for Liberia and I do have so many stories to tell, but both fortunately and unfortunately (depending on who you are), my life has become a lot busier as of late. Over 20,000 Ivory Coast refugees have crossed into Nimba County (where I live and work) following the post-election violence that began in early December 2010.
In case you were wondering, the violence continues to escalate and refugees are rushing across the border everyday. The majority of refugees are women and children who were threatened by rebels from the opposition party in Ivory Coast following the election (the first Democractic election in Ivory coast in 50 years!). Before Christmas I spent long days on the border assessing the health needs of the refugees with my Liberian staff. When I left on December 17th, there were 5,000 refugees. Today, January 4th there are 20,000+. The numbers will continue for sure.

As I said before, I apologize for the silence. I am trying small to stay connected.