Helping Liberia – Thank you President Obama – from the bottom of my heart
On August 3, at the urging of BobFr, I sent a letter to President Obama. Essentially, it was a modified comment I had posted here.
It was just at the start of the African Summit that President Obama was going to be convening with leaders from across the continent. At the time, news of the Ebola virus ravaging several countries in West Africa, including Liberia, my native country, was being hotly discussed. We also learned that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, would not be attending the conference because of the seriousness of the deadly virus. I lamented here that this would have been an opportune time for her to discuss not only the Ebola virus, but the deplorable health care infrastructure in the country.
I touched on some of those same concerns here in my August 3 comments (here)
That’s why after Bob encouraged me to write President Obama, I did. On September 22, I received a letter from him, dated September, 15, 2014.
I don’t quite remember everything I said to the president in my letter, because I typed it in the White House e-mail format and regrettably did not save a copy. But I believe I shared with him the lack of basic health care in Liberia and my own family struggle with my husband’s illness and desire to return someday, but could not do so. Without adequate routine medical care, my husband would not survive in Liberia, given that there is no treatment center there to treat him.
So, two days ago, shortly after I had gotten home briefly to drop off the car so that my husband could run and see his nurse, as I walked into the door, he said, “There is an envelope for you from the White House.” You can only imagine my surprise.
I immediately dropped my purse and grabbed the oversized manila envelope. I quickly opened it and began reading its contents. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. I ran to my computer and tweeted that I got the letter and then posted it here.
My friends, words cannot express my deepest gratitude to President Obama for the swift action he has taken to save the lives of thousands of Liberians. It is a massive undertaking that many in Liberia will be grateful for, too. (Liberian Observer: President Obama’s Robust Response: A Security Council Resolution Could Greatly Help the Process)
You see, even before I wrote to President Obama, the U.S. had already taken steps to help Liberia and other countries in the region. And since my letter weeks ago, the President and his administration, alongside their International partners, have done much more to help battle the deadly virus. As part of the efforts to respond the Ebola epidemic, last week, the president sent 3,000 soldiers to Liberia to begin the work of containing the fast moving virus. (WH FACT SHEET: U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa)
I am hopeful that the residual effects from the aid by the U.S. government and its partners around the world, will offer an opportunity for Liberia to emerge with a health care infrastructure, that will not only allow me and my family to go home, but will benefit thousands of Liberians who suffer needlessly and sometimes die from illnesses that could be easily treated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “the 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” And to date, it has touched the lives of 5,864 people. In Liberia alone, some 1,500 people have died. (CDC: 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa)
So far, both my husband’s family and mine still living in Liberia, have not been harmed by the devasting virus. Many others are not so lucky.
Not only do we count our blessings for this, but also for President Obama’s action to take a stand and join other nations to prevent the loss of countless lives.
For this, as a Liberian native, I am eternally grateful to President Obama and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Many Liberians will never forget what you have done here today.
Thank you fellow TODers for all your support and encouragement. I am deeply honored to be a part of this wonderful place.
I did not grow up in an atmosphere of privilege. My dad owned his own barbershop, and my mom was a seamstress in New York’s garment district. I wanted for nothing, but I knew we were solidly working class. If I and my brothers wanted to go to university—and with our parents, it was expected—we would have to work for it. There were no college funds, and no rich uncle was going to swoop in and save us. All we had were each other, our willingness to work, and our native intelligences.
Not coming from a place of privilege, I know instinctively that most things in this life for most people come at a price, the price usually being hard struggle. The world gives up very little for free. Short cuts, when they do exist, are far and few between. As I said in my post yesterday, at first that made me a practiced cynic. Fortunately I grew out of it, and embraced the rewards that come with struggle; the struggle makes the reward all that much sweeter.
But just as cynicism infects our modern politics, so does a culture of privilege.