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Life Goes On

November 10, 2014

WAEC Lunch

With so much bad news about Liberia these days it’s probably hard to imagine that anyone’s life is going on normally. Many of you have asked how my students are and the answer is, as always, busy. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know this is scholarship season: the best-worst thing that happens each year. Add an ocean between us and it’s double the fun.

It all started back in May 2012 when I walked into my twelfth grade class on the last day of school and announced, “I’m going to the UN camp after school to try to print information about a scholarship in Costa Rica. Come to my house tomorrow if you’re interested.”

I woke up to forty people in my front yard at 6:00am.

Two bags of applications, several sleepless nights and dozens of prayers and favors later, Festus went.

Learning from my mistakes, the next year I chose six kids and we spent the weekends whispering on my porch and quietly completing forms while I told the rest of the town, “Really, I don’t know anything about scholarships. Of course I’ll let you know.”

Newton went.

By the third year I had moved to Gbarnga so we literally went on the road. I picked two promising students to win a ‘dream trip’ to Cuttington. They spent a week at my house watching DStv, learning how to microwave food and writing through most of a ream of paper.

Saye and George went.

At the end of July the three of us left Liberia together, them for four years and me for two weeks. But less than a week into my vacation I was forbidden to return because: Ebola. I’d packed none of their documents or my application files (I have an entire shelf dedicated to this). I’d hastily packed one bag, mostly with gifts, and asked someone to take care of my flowers.

In August it started becoming clear this was an extended stay—not a vacation—and both my head and my heart started racing. I’d already talked to students. I’d already made promises and plans.

And now… the Atlantic Ocean.

There was so much I didn’t have, but three years in Liberia taught me to focus instead on what remained. What I did have were scanned copies of their previous unsuccessful applications (mercifully recovered from a crashed hard drive by a Lebanese man on Randall street), a lot of cell phone numbers, and a little money in my bank account.

What can you do with $1,000 and a dream? Make a lot of international phone calls.

All I can say is thank god for Ezetop. It allows me to send money directly to their cell phones so they can call me for five cents a minute instead of the eighty cents a minute I get on my phone card. …but if I had $5LD for every time I said, “ARE YOU GETTING ME?” or got woken up at 3:00am… I’d be rolling in butter candy.

We can’t talk when it’s raining there or raining here or when they can’t afford to charge their phones, but things are slowly happening, my friend.

I have four kids this year, three sons and one daughter, and they’re moving mountains. In the middle of this Ebola storm they’ve managed to get their official transcripts, mail them at UPS in Monrovia (their first time mailing anything), as well as study for and take the SAT. They’re each almost finished with applications for two schools and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve chosen to study: public health, human rights, sustainability, and gender.

They have experience organizing tutoring programs, working for the court, and leading women’s groups. There is no doubt that these are tenacious, hard working future leaders. There is no doubt that they are committed to a brighter future for their country. But the question that looms and that I cannot answer is whether the American schools they’re applying to share their courage, whether they can look past Ebola, look past the fear and misunderstanding to see how much has been accomplished with so little, how much remains to be done, but how much one small act can change a life.

And when you can change a life you can start changing the world.

There is simply too much at stake to let a virus, an ocean, or a phone bill get in the way of what needs to be done. Ebola can only stop progress when we stop working.  Keep us in your thoughts next time you flip past Fox News or CNN. Keep us in your thoughts next time you post about Ebola on Facebook and Twitter. These are good people fighting for their right to life.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

-Mother Theresa

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2014 5:25 am

    Thank you for your students! You are really making a difference in their lives and for Liberia!

    • lifemagnanimous permalink*
      November 10, 2014 5:31 am

      Thank you too, Emily. You’re certainly doing your part too! Long journey bit by bit.

  2. November 10, 2014 5:27 am

    Thank you for your students! You are really making a difference in their lives and for Liberia! Thank you!

  3. Rebecca Stanton permalink
    November 10, 2014 8:02 am

    Keep up this very good work, YOU GET ME?

    Sent using OWA for iPhone ________________________________

  4. November 10, 2014 10:58 am

    You ARE changing the world.

  5. blondie permalink
    November 10, 2014 2:15 pm

  6. Robert Dahl permalink
    November 11, 2014 8:01 pm


  7. Bonnie Ann Wolle permalink
    November 19, 2014 4:24 am

    Praying that distance will not disrupt the progress of students who are setting their sights on brighter horizons!

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