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Ellen hopes Monrovia can tap into Freetown’s experiences

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At a meeting of accomplished African women in Monrovia, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf expresses hope that Monrovia can follow Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr’s work and build a relationship so that she can share her talents, experiences, opportunities and examples that will strengthen authorities here in their delivery to the people.

Welcoming the Mayor of neighboring Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown to Monrovia at the Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf Presidential Center Monday, 15 February, Mrs. Sirleaf said Madam Sawyerr made her to think of great mayors that Liberia has had, one being Madam Mary T. Broh who now heads the General Services Agency (GSA).

“She was able to move this city to a point where it was acclaimed to be one of the cleanest cities,” recalls Mrs. Sirleaf, during whose administration Madam Broh was Monrovia’s mayor.

Some of Liberia’s high profile women including two former foreign Ministers, and other great African women who have held top level positions in government or multinational levels were at the Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf (EJS) Presidential Center Monday.

Having looked through Mayor Sawyerr’s second annual report, Mrs. Sirleaf says she is so proud of it, praising the Freetown Mayor’s professionalism.

“I think this is great for the fact that she’s here with her entire group of supporters, assistants and family, that she can come and share this with us and she can inspire, you know, our mayor, all of those here so that they can see her good work,” Mrs. Sirleaf says.

The ex-president also wishes that together Monrovia and Freetown can build two cities, strongly united for the good of the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone.She notes that the Freetown Mayor will be talking to Liberians about her work and what she has done to move Freetown forward.

Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone says she is humbled to be in the midst of accomplished women at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center. Madam Sawyerr says she is really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Madam Sirleaf’s Amujae Initiative Leadership program.

“The relationship, the influence and the input from the Amujae leaders have also gone into the report Madam [Sirleaf] is holding on, because it makes me stronger, it makes me better able to face my challenges …,” she says.

Madam Sawyerr notes that it gives her value that she can put into her team which has produced the work as was seen at the meeting.She says she is glad to be here, disclosing that she was invited here by Monrovia Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee to deliver a keynote address at a program which had been scheduled for Tuesday, 16 February.

Mayor Sawyerr expresses excitement about the prospects of a stronger relationship between Freetown and Monrovia, two cities that she says have been together and yet far apart.

She adds that this is an opportunity for them not to just be together in terms of physical distance, but being together in terms of culture, economic and education. She notes the prospects of building bridges so that the people of Freetown and the people of Monrovia can grow together.

The Executive Director of the Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development and immediate past President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks says the center is there to provide support for those who have ambition to be public servants.

Through the Amujae Initiative, Dr. Weeks explains that the center provides guidance and coaching, using former President Sirleaf’s life story as a helping roadmap for these women.

Having worked in the Government of Liberia, at multinational levels and becoming president, Dr. Weeks says former President Sirleaf has a wealth of experience.

She says there will be archives at the center that provide the type of information that people can go to and really access, and there will also be a presidential library.

For her part, the Political Leader for One Liberia, Madam McDella Cooper says it was a wonderful experience, having sat in the same room with so many great women who she has so much regard for, just sharing experiences.

She says she is grateful for the invitation, especially on hearing that one of Monrovia’s sister cities that it can emulate when it comes to sanitation, Freetown, was represented at the table by Mayor Sawyerr.

Concluding, Madam Cooper says she is inspired by all those great ladies at the table to continue to do the work she has been doing. By Winston W. Parley

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