Last week, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized an event where it awarded Liberian nationals and institutions for doing exceptionally well in their various fields of endeavor.
The individuals and institutions included Dr. Mosoka Fallah, “Health Care Worker of the Year” and “Development Hero of the Year”; Theophilous Frankyu, “Teacher of the Year”; Mohammed Kamara, “Farmer of the Year”; Edwina Vakun, “Entrepreneur of the Year”; and Accountability Lab, “Civil Society of the Year.”
Held as the “Liberia Development Awards 2017,” USAID Mission Director Dr. Anthony Chan said the award celebrates Liberians whose work is impacting others.
US Ambassador Christine Elder, giving a synopsis of the event, told the Daily Observer in an interview that, “We have the pleasure of meeting so many people in their work that are doing something on a small scale, but has great impact. And because they work in the county or outside, they don’t get good attention. Because they have a great impact on their communities, we decided to recognize them.”
She noted that the areas, including healthcare, farming, teaching and entrepreneurship, covered in the award are critical to Liberia’s development, and people do not have to own a very large organization or come from the government before being recognized.
“Any individual or group can make a difference, and these people have really made the difference. Every time people do something, they learn; and we are getting feedback of what happened tonight. So maybe in the next one we are going to have more nominations and will be considering other sectors, and will involve many of our development partners to nominate people and groups not only in Monrovia but outside in order to recognize their works that are impacting the society,” she said, adding that the idea is about sharing the works of people who are working hard and celebrating them for impacting their communities.
“We are contemplating organizing experts to evaluate nominees in time to come to celebrate them as well for their hard work.”
With this being USAID’s first award ceremony, the euphoria among recipients was high at the event.
Dr. Fallah, recipient of Healthcare and Development Hero Award said, “It takes a deep sense of compassion and care for the poor people. It took a lot of hard work to win these awards. When I returned to Liberia in 2013 I was working as a consultant for USAID sleeping on a US$35 mattress even though I was making a lot of money. But because I was moved by compassion for the poor people, I did not regret being among them and under that condition.”
Dr. Fallah, who was also awarded for being one of the country’s heroes during Ebola, also emphasized that it is better to celebrate Liberians, regardless of where they are, for their good work, stressing that there are many good people in Liberia whose actions are impacting the lives of others.
He said because most of these people are not heading top positions in government or higher institutions, their works are ignored.
He dedicated his two awards to healthcare delivery workers, saying that their cooperation led to his recognition.
“I have received so many awards, but the most important one I always count on is that which I receive from people who stand to say thank you for saving me,” Dr. Fallah said.
Edwina Vakun, recipient of the Entrepreneur Award attributed her success to commitment, passion and hard work. She also dedicated her award to the many market women and her employees at Business Link, which she heads as the Chief Executive Officer.
Lawrence Yealue, head of the Accountability Lab, expressed gratitude to the young men and women working with him to disseminate information to recognize Liberians whose works are impacting others. His organization also provides training for amateur journalists to gain capacity, and uses Liberian musicians to encourage voters to evaluate candidates well before voting.
Expressing his gratitude, Mr. Yealue said he would not have succeeded if his compatriots were not honest in working to ensure that the assistance they get from donors is used properly for the benefit of the project.
The Farmer of the Year, Mohammed Kamara, came to be recognized for the hundreds of tons of rice he produces in Lofa County.
Kamara also produces cocoa, cow pea, sugarcane among others, and the World Food Program relies on his products to feed schools with locally produced rice.
Theophilous Frankyu, recipient of Teacher of the Year Award, is regarded for liaising with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to erect annexes to the Kpanay Town Public School in Grand Bssa without government intervention.
His teaching has impacted students, including little Albertine Morgan, who is under 10 years of age. Albertine explained in a video how rich Liberia is and the need for Liberians to realize what they have and appreciate it by working hard and eschewing corruption and other social vices.