Roughly a week after the World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-freed for the second time this year, the Women of Liberia have honored President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai for their strong leadership role in combating the disease.
The Liberian Chief Executive and her Deputy, Mr. Boakai were presented heroic awards by the women at the Paynesville City Hall on the outskirt of Monrovia during a ceremony organized along with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
A brief video documentary of the Ebola crisis, showing President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai’s involvement in the fight from one place to another, including their interactions with partners and foreign leaders were played during the ceremony Thursday, September 10.
In response to the honor, President Sirleaf said heroes [in the Ebola fight] were many, and that she and Vice PresidentBoakai were just a little part of the heroing that Liberia experienced. She instead gave credit to health workers for their heroic sacrifice in battling the disease, on grounds that as she faced the difficulties of what to do to an enemy “you did not know and did not know how to fight,” the heroes were at ELWA, Redemption, Kakata, Buchanan, Grand Bassa, Ganta, Voinjaman, Tubmanburg, Gbarnga and everywhere.
“The fear was there no doubt; the running away was there no doubt, but there were the brave men and women who stood there sometimes without the right apparel to protect themselves, but [they went] to administer to the dying and the sick,” President Sirleaf said in recognition of health workers’ role in the Ebola crisis.
The President observes that Liberia’s victory over Ebola has left the world to be astonished in terms of how the country managed to be declared Ebola-freed when it had the worst of it. She also thanked God and appreciated prayers of Churches here because at the peak of the crisis, she said people all over the world were saying Liberia “is finished”; the disease would destroy Liberians forever and that government had failed.
Finally, President Sirleaf applauded the resilience of Liberians, particularly the women that she said took care of the dying and the sick, including sick babies, among others, calling them the true heroes. Earlier, Gender Minister, Julia Duncan Cassell, said the women had assembled at the Paynesville City Hall to appreciate the role and work that President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai played in combating the deadly Ebola virus.
Minister Cassell recalled that during the first couple of months in the Ebola virus disease, she toyed with the ideas of how and what to do, and finally decided to take charge of the fight against Ebola with her faith in God and leadership ability.
According to Madam Cassell, President Sirleaf thought about all the mothers in Liberia, and what it would mean if she didn’t take charge of the Ebola fight as a mother. “Today, Madam President, we can freely say that because of your leadership and support of Vice President Boakai, the Liberian Women now can put some smile on their faces because of your leadership,” said Madam Cassell.
She recalled that in the midst of the Ebola crisis, President Sirleaf made a decision that all of her officials should return home or resign their post, commending it as “a role of leadership.”
By Winston W. Parley – Editing by Jonathan Browne