LIBERTY PARTY-USA CHAIR, EBOLA SURVIVOR, BRANTLY AWARDED
The Chairman of Liberty Party USA, Mr. Philip B. Suah, Jr., was awarded in Dallas Texas for his work during the Ebola crisis. The award program, organized by the Liberian Community Association of Dallas Fort Worth to raise awareness against stigmatization of Ebola survivors, honored several organizations and individuals who played pivotal roles during the Ebola crisis. Also honored at the program was Dr. Ken Brantly, the American doctor who first contracted and survived the Ebola virus disease.
Dr. Brantly and his wife Amber served as guest speakers at the program and informed everyone about the need to have compassion for Ebola survivors. Also honored at the program was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), represented by Lt. Col. Erik Reaves, for their role in providing life-saving information and controlling the disease.
For his part, Mr. Suah was honored for his role in coordinating “We Stand as One”, a collaborative stakeholder effort that connected Liberian organizations, county associations and social groups with expatriate groups, public health experts, as well as humanitarian and health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Samaritan’s Purse.
“We Stand as One” produced media and health advisory and shared with Liberian associations across the United States to assist Liberians understand the nature of Ebola and ways to cope with the overwhelming media attention. As the main point of contact to disseminate information across different segments of the Liberian community in America, “We Stand as One” conference calls were used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide information about Ebola as well as take questions from the community regarding the impact of the disease in Liberia and in America.
The Liberty Party USA Chairman says the idea for bringing Liberians together was birthed out of the Liberty Party Task Force set up by National Chairman Cllr. Fonati Koffa, senior partisan Cllr. Charles Brumskine and the Party’s National Executive Committee as a way to start looking for solutions in Liberia rather than only criticizing governing institutions.
Speaking at the program, Mr. Suah praised the CDC for the information and resources they made available during the crisis. Likewise, he praised Dr. Brantly for the sacrifice made to help Liberians before and during the Ebola crisis. He particularly thanked Dr. Brantly and his wife Amber for not being angry at Liberia after their ordeal with Ebola but rather galvanized in their efforts to further help the country overcome the stigma of the deadly disease.
While he says he’s glad for the recognition, Mr. Suah is quick to point out that the reward belongs to Liberians everywhere since it was through their efforts “We Stand as One” became a success. He says the success of “We Stand as One” shows Liberians can have unity in their diversity. Mr. Suah said after he was tasked by the party to coordinate the effort, he went online and started getting contact information for Liberian associations and groups. And through those contacts he got access to smaller groups throughout the United States as well as in Europe. He did the same with international organizations, health experts and humanitarian organizations.
“I shared with them the need to create a medium where all stakeholders could unite against Ebola so there could be quicker and more efficient response to the elusive Ebola virus. In essence, it was the establishment of an incident command system for Liberians out of Liberia. I was transparent with my background as Chairman of Liberty Party USA but stressed the conference calls would be purely humanitarian. After the first conference call with the Centers for Disease Control on August 2, 2014, there were no doubters as the call was very informative and non-political.”
Mr. Suah says “We Stand as One” is not an organization, just a medium where supply and demand around Ebola meet, whether it is for information or relief supplies to Liberia. Each individual, organization, association or entity retains their respective projects, goals and resources but they’re all on the call to see where they can collaborate or learn about the virus and the impact on the region. He says he is most grateful to Professor Verlon Stone and the Friends of Liberia (FOL), a group made up of expatriates who have worked in Liberia. Besides their cash donations of over US$50,000 to small organizations in Liberia, FOL worked very hard to make We Stand as One an International medium.
“We don’t have to believe the same things or have identical agendas; rather, we must find those common interests and leverage the strength in our diversity to bring about results. This time it was Ebola that unified us. Next time the overall welfare of the average Liberia family will unite those of us with different beliefs, political, social and economic interests to achieve results. All we need is the leadership to direct our energies into synergy.”
As one looks at the huge success of “We Stand as One” in bringing together such a diverse group of organizations and individuals, one can surmise that there may be a glimmer of hope for Liberia. Maybe politicians and associated entities can learn from this experience to craft amicable ways of developing working relationships. Maybe they might be rewarded even more by putting national interests ahead of political gains. And from the look of things, Liberty Party may have gained valuable public trust by focusing on the needs of Liberians, instead of focusing on promoting the party at a time of national crisis.
“I am glad that Liberty Party did not politicize their role during the crisis. It would have been sad to peddle a party while people were dying. Actually, it would have been shameful both to the national leadership and anyone associated with the Party. So far, very few people even know that Liberty Party initiated “We Stand as One. I would have it no other way. We are all very exhausted with politics. Liberia needs solutions. My hope now is that we extend our hands to Guinea and Sierra Leone so they too can be detached from this disease. The Sierra Leone Consul General has been very active with We Stand as One. Cynthia has been a model example of sharing lessons learned.”
As Liberia gets closer to being declared Ebola free by the United Nations, the focus has been turned to helping Ebola survivors re-enter society with the support and accommodation of the community. Survivors are marginalized in some quarters in Liberia, making it difficult for them to make a living and even more difficult to cope with the void left by family members who dies from Ebola. With somber looks, those attending the program in Dallas watched videos of Ebola survivors tell stories of how they have been ostracized by members of their family and communities in some parts of Liberia.
Ebola may still be a menace in the region but the means to eradicate it may come from collaborative efforts from everyone. Maybe the entire region and the International community need to “Stand as One.”