Monday and Tuesday of these I had the privilege of attending the ACCEL (Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia) meeting at the University of Massachusetts Medical School campus. The two day event covered not only the activities to fight the outbreak from all the members of the consortium but also a special focus on the e-Learning system Julie and I installed. Our friend and partner in the effort, Dr. Golakai, the Deam of the medical college in Liberia where we deployed the system gave several talks on the school, healthcare in Liberia, funding, and laid out his vision for how to make effective changes. It was a great two days with representatives from several medical schools, the Massachusetts department of public health, and a several key figures from Liberia and Ethiopia.
Good news arrived at the end of last week. Liberia was declared Ebola free by the WHO (WHO – The Ebola Epidemic is over in Liberia) . I am thinking about all those that made this possible, all the health care workers that risked their lives, some losing their lives to the disease. All the Liberians who came forward to help, again putting themselves at risk. To the churches for spreading the word throughout the country.
And now, we need to roll up our sleeves and repair the damages and rebuild the health care organizations throughout the country. I am pleased to still be working with the University of Massachusetts Medical school on their continuing efforts there. I’ll post new updates about the renewed efforts soon.
Julie and I returned to Belchertown safely on July 3rd. The departure day was a little bittersweet. Lawrence, our driver picked us up and took us to the school as we tried to cram everything we could into the last few hours on-site. Julie managed to get her final lecture posted on the Moodle site, and I worked a lot with Jappah to get the remote access setup.
We spent part of the morning with Vuyu, the dean of the school. He has a daunting task ahead of him. There’s little funding available to run the school and so as he said he will go begging to various NGO’s and companies in Monrovia seeking assistance. We both hope he is successful because there is such a great need.
Adjusting to ‘normal’ life in the US has been a bit harder than I expected. Monday, July 7th I started a new job and Sunday, July 6th Julie headed off with our daughter Rachel to Missouri where Rachel starts her new job. It’s a week later and everyone is either back home or in their new home in the case of Rachel).
Our dear friend Chacha told us ‘Africa will change you.’ The same sentiment came from our daughter Sarah who has been there for work several times. I am sure they are both right, now Julie and I just have to figure out what those changes mean for us.
It is Tuesday and we are back in the hotel. Julie managed 4 lectures today and I spent a frustrating day with a firewall and in the end won and lost that battle.
We started our day with a huge scare (and we continue to be on guard). There were two deaths from Ebola in the last two days. One from the hospital where the medical school students do their clinical and the other next door to the medical school. It has put is both on edge.
Despite or maybe because of the outbreak both Julie and I feel we really need to do more here. Part of the reason for the problem is the low medical training here. The Liberian people are warm, smart, friendly, caring, and patriotic. We have seem this every day here. We have gotten used to being the ‘white people’ here from the outside and really begun to get to understand the limitations everyone here faces. When we went to church here we saw compassion, love, joy, and hope all one place. Our friend Chacha said to is “Africa will change you” and she was right. We are not sure what will happen next except somehow we will come back.
Sunday has been a busy day, especially for Julie. We started with going to the ST Nogbe United Methodist Church where Julie joined the service playing keyboard for the introit, hymns, and benediction. That after a nearly sleepless night as we both worried about the too-short time left here.
Right now (and for the last several hours) Julie has been reworking her kidney lectures. She has been adjusting the lectures for the local level of the first and second year students and also to get rid of any copyrighted materials. It is a lot of work but she is closing in on the final lecture now.
I mostly took the day off. I had asked some of my friends to help me with a few troubling linux commands and some network issues. I studied what they sent and will be attempting to implement tomorrow. The system is running fine but the second server is not fully up with Moodle and there’s no cross server backup yet. I hope to finalize both tomorrow. Other than that it has been more relaxing for me than Julie. I even took the time to sit outside and practice bagpipes on my electronic chanter!
We only have 2 1/2 days left then the long flight home. It has been a roller coaster of emotions of late. Today, church was a definite high point for both of us. Their congregation gives so much yet has so little.
I have a few pictures from today’s service….