Meeting the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, her mother, madam Marian Shields Robinson, and her two daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, for the first time was breathtaking for many who have only dreamt of seeing them in person.
Upon their arrival at the Roberts International airport on June 27 at about 12:50 p.m., they were received by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and several officials of government including Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassel, Minister of Education George Werner, Rep. Munnah Pelham Youngblood, Cultural
Ambassador Juli Endee, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, members of the Traditional Council, and a host of other dignitaries.
What stood out was the level of friendliness in their handshakes and smiles as they greeted each official. Mrs. Obama was excited by the red carpet reception, the cultural troupe’s performance, and stood still in admiration as she watched Ambassador Endee perform along with the national cultural troupe.
The trip was intended to further promote girls’ education under the theme “Let Girls Learn.” Following the welcome ceremony the Obama entourage, led by Liberian government officials, set off for a tour to a leadership camp in Kakata. There they met leaders of organizations, including Bridge International and groups of school girls to talk about their challenges and how their requests fit in with Mrs. Obama’s will to help.
Later, the Obamas arrived in Unification Town, at the A.S Caulfield School, where the students dressed in maroon and green uniforms welcomed the visitors. Outside of the premises, marked by LNP, stood hundreds of Ebola orphans, survivors and widows who claim to have lost their husbands to Ebola.
They held banners that read, ‘Please help the orphans get educated’ and wanted their voices to be heard in some way.
Among them was a widowed mother of eight children who begged to see Mrs. Obama to be able to tell her story.
“I lost my husband to Ebola and since then we have been in a serious struggle that has caused my family to some days go without food and water. I just want someone to hear our voice, we need help,” she cried.
The media tried to grab the attention of officials who were more than three blocks away, and unfortunately, under the pouring rain, it was to no avail.
“These are the real people who need to be reached out to; these are the children who are not going to school or even recognized by the government because they do not have anyone to talk for them. We hoped to have gotten their attention as they were passing to at least help them financially. These people are broken,” stated one Onita.
Meanwhile, several girls who have been sponsored by President Sirleaf’s initiative, ‘Vulnerable Girls’ Scholarship’, which started three years ago, had the opportunity to speak during the roundtable discussion with Mrs. Obama. Mercy Kwenah, Omue Jallah, Theresa Nagbe were among those who got to share their personal experiences and how the initiative has helped them, including why it is important to continue it.
Vulnerable Girls sends 200 female students to school at no cost and sponsors their feeding and boarding as well.
We spoke with four Adolescent Girls’ Scholarship (AGS) students who were able to meet the Obamas and asked them to describe one thing they will always remember from their visit. This is what they had to say:
Naomi Askie: “One thing I will always remember about the First Lady of the United States of America, her mother and her two daughters is that they acted kind by showing concern for us. I was so happy seeing them for the very first time, and will always remember them.”
Ida Thompson: “If I had one thing to say, I would want to say it to the President of Liberia. Madam Ellen, thank you for helping us to be in school.”
Kameria Barcon: “I realized that Malia and Sasha Obama are well educated, why, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in Liberia today. I watched the two a lot during our roundtable discussion and realized one thing: I want to be more than them.”
Aminata: “I want to give this message to my big sister Joanna Ballah. I saw the First Lady and her two ladies and they looked so beautiful and gorgeous. They are smart like me and the (moment) I set my eyes on them I knew something very rich will happen for this country.”