Watch Night 2017

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Tis the season when people and organizations seek funding to support their causes.

I know. We sent out our annual newsletter earlier this month. On the cusp of 2018, Watch Night 2017 in Liberia, I am writing to share the stories of success of the young women whose college educations we have supported in 2017 and will continue to fund in 2018. And yes, ask you for your support.

As a photojournalist, I spent Watch Night 2014 in Liberia while covering the humanitarian response to the Ebola epidemic. Among the stories we documented, my colleague, Brian Castner, and I covered the news of the impending reopening of schools. I photographed hundreds of high school students and their parents as they queued to register for classes. Our story, Progess in Liberia: Schools Shuttered by Ebola Set to Reopen, published on Jan. 18, 2015.

During our coverage, Brian met and interviewed Sister Barbara Brilliant, the dean of the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences. Brilliant and her team helped facilitate many of the Ebola Treatment Units throughout Liberia.

“These private little places, all over the country, they did the hero work by simply staying open,” she said. “They triaged, directed people away from the ETUs that didn’t need to be there. People were scared, they had no equipment, but they stayed open anyway.”

When I left Liberia, I asked Brian to help me connect with Sister Barbara. We now sponsor a young woman, Davidetta Forkpah, who is studying social work at the Mother Patern College. Davidetta is doing well in school and she’ll begin her second semester of sophomore year in 2018.

If you’d like to learn more, you may read and download our newsletter here: 2017_newsletter

I write to let those of you who reads this post, who read our newsletter, who read of the efforts of the Liberian people in the face of Ebola epidemic, that each one of you matters. Each one of you can make a difference.

On the cusp of the new year in 2014, Liberia was reeling from the onslaught of the Ebola epidemic. Days ago, Liberians elected a new president to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in the country’s first democratic transition of power in more than 70 years.

Our work with our nonprofit has reinforced my strong belief that each one of us can make a difference. One person, one idea, one act of kindness can spark change.

As I learned in Liberia, Watch Night can be a time for reflection, remembrance, gratitude. And giving.

If you’d like to support our work, you may use PayPal to donate funds.

Thank you for your interest, support and love these past 10 years. Here’s to a blessed, healthy, prosperous 2018.

 

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The Cookie Elf

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I haven’t written much lately. It’s been six months since I last posted on this blog. I resolved to write more, staring right now. And right into the new year.

My winter break begins today. I turned in grades on Sunday. I had a couple meetings to round out my semester–preparing for next semester. And I gave my office and home a thorough cleaning.

I had a 3 a.m. wake-up to head to the airport today. Last night, though, I stayed up late baking chocolate chip cookies. I had this idea that I would deliver homemade cookies to the hard-working people I met along my journey, my version of spreading Christmas cheer.

I put the cookies on red paper plates with a white snowflake pattern. I sealed them with plastic wrap and tucked them in a paper bag. I decided I would let the spirit move me as I selected recipients.

First delivery: the woman who checked in my Hertz rental car at 0-dark-30 this morning. Merry Christmas.

As my bag passed through the security scanner, the TSA agent pulled it off the conveyer belt and opened it. She looked inside and smiled. She closed it then opened it again and sniffed and smiled. I offered the agents cookies. The woman said they weren’t allowed to accept them.

Now I’m at my gate. The crew on my Southwest Airlines flight will get a plate of cookies. And the crew on my connecting and final flight will get cookies, too.

I had already delivered cookies over the last week, to the folks at my local post office, who are always friendly and helpful. I gave cookies to Fran, the woman who delivers my mail. I offered cookies to the people at the realty agency who look after my home. I took cookies to the local diner where I frequently grab a bite and take a break from campus. And at my last meeting of the semester on Monday, I gave cookies to a colleague, a lovely human being, who’s been a great support to me this past semester.

Personal. Homemade. Sweet. The perfect recipe for sharing love and Christmas cheer.

Merry, Merry.