After 14 years of a brutal civil war, Liberia elects its first female president—Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, nicknamed the Iron Lady. With her predominately female cabinet, President Johnson Sirleaf struggles during her first year in office to rebuild a war-ravaged country, fight rampant corruption and prevent a descent back into war.
A rebel army of indigenous Liberians intent on overthrowing the government of then-President Charles Taylor.
Over the past year, Ebola, one of the most virulent viruses on the planet, descended upon West Africa and ate away at the bodies and souls of its inhabitants. As the outbreak turned epidemic, and an African disease became a global health threat, the world began to mobilize.
There were a core group of true heroes; front line medical care workers, international aid workers, community members and government officials who risked and even lost lives but to succeed, it would need the entire nation. For if the Ebola virus made no distinction between tribal affiliations, ethnic differences or economic status, to succeed in this battle, neither could Liberians.
Using old-fashioned communication strategies like word of mouth, radio and posters and the latest in social mobilization and social media, the people joined in full force. Ultimately, it was these countless acts of conscious kindness and small shifts in human behavior, that the secret to success would be found.
Over the years, most major news stories about Liberia focus on poverty, corruption and human rights abuses. The Ebola Story is the opposite and success did not arrive though high tech solutions or new medical breakthroughs, but the adherence to some very local and very deep seeded principles of compassion, courage and commitment.
According to the Ministry of Health (Ebola Siterep, 301, March 12) there have been 4252 deaths since last May. A tragedy for sure, but numbers far fewer than original feared. And while the risks remain real, a new case this past week and continued problems in Guinea and Sierra Leone require on going vigilance, the fight against Ebola has proven to be one of the greatest public health interventions ever.
It is a story that needs preserving.