The Ebola outbreak in Liberia had almost rendered my country comatose.
Just a few months ago, it was a common sight to see shoppers in the supermarkets in full surgical gloves. We were too scared to let visitors into our homes, even close friends, family or neighbors. You dared not go beyond the threshold for fear of what lay beyond.
On the 23rd of February, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that all Ebola-imposed sanctions and emergency laws would be lifted. I heaved a sigh of relief; we would have our lives back! Even better, the Global Mentoring Walk could go ahead in Liberia and we would be a part of humanity once more.
We swung into action quickly seeking out the needed mentors, venue, sponsors and participants. All logistical details had to be established at once, but we were energized to celebrate International Women’s Day with the world. “What about a radio or TV program?” suggested Grace Ikrimat, my co-flag bearer and fellow VVLead colleague. “And we must remember the refreshments for the participants after the walk,” we exclaimed. Oh, it was intense-all of this feverish planning-but what fun to feel this happy excitement!
After two pre-walk mentor meetings, an orientation, and television and radio appearances, the whole country seemed to have heard about our Global Mentoring Walk in Harbel. The energy and interest from women across Liberia was palpable.
The ease with which we had been planning, however, was not to last. Just two days before the Walk, we went down to Harbel to put finishing touches on our plans for the event when we were calmly informed that due to fears about the Ebola vaccine trials, they would not allow us to hold the Walk within the plantation venue. Deep paranoia became rampant in my country over the last year. Parents were suspicious that the Mentoring Walk was merely a government ploy to lure their children out to be used as guinea pigs.
With significant teamwork from my co-flag bearer, teammates, mentors and partner civil society groups, we were able to secure a new venue at Cooper Beach overnight with over 70 participants signed up from that community alone.
Judge Eva Mappy Morgan carrying out the sample excercises with her legal mentees
When Sunday 8th March finally arrived, we were joined by Judge Eva Mappy Morgan; Dr. Nina Bowen, who represented the United States Ambassador; a host of distinguished ladies from the business community; lots of eager young ladies; and a cohort of mentors and partners.