Finding Hope in the Eyes of the Hopeless

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Maisie Dunbar with members of the Liberian Returnees Network in Monrovia

By Maisie Dunbar

Unlike most diasporans, my recent trip to Liberia was about how I could give back and make an impact within the few weeks I was there; how I could leave Liberia a little better off than when I arrived.

My journey started a few years ago, in 2017, when I went home, I noticed the need and desire for trade education. Since that initial trip, I have longed to come home and empower the youth, which, in my opinion, is the next generation to move Liberia forward.

“We must empower them with hope, when they feel hopeless and steer them away from violence”, I  stated, “although it is not an easy task, by any means, but I know that mutual  respect goes a long way, even when the Liberianism shows up.”

What is Liberianism? Simply put, my definition of Liberianism is lies, tricks, etc. I am adamant in expressing why I am here there, and its not for that reason.  My journey has allowed me to learn so much over the course of my life and I try to let every Liberian that I interact with know my rules and what have impacted my life.

Since my first trip home, I have always tried to leave a sense of hope.  I believe I have been chosen for this journey.  “When I arrive home people whom I do not know, come up to me and render so much kindness to me simply because they recognize me and may remember me from a previous trip, doing an act of kindness”.

My mission in life is for every Liberian youth, with ambition to get on the right path, to make their dreams a reality.  I will do my part to make sure they remain hopeful in a hopeless environment. I look into the eyes of these kids and I see myself as a young Liberian girl, growing up in Liberia and all we knew was excellence. Everything around us screamed excellence! The youth today can not say that!”

During my weeklong trip to Liberia, I spoke at three schools.

The first school was B. W. Harris Episcopal High School located on Broad Street. Growing up, BWH did not have a Cosmetology program, so when I discovered that they had this program, I made up my mind that I had to make it my first stop on my give Hope to the Hopeless Beauty Conversations.  I was super excited to speak to the students. What was so profound to me was 5 young ladies out of the 60 + students, mentioned their aspirations of becoming doctors, ranging from plastic surgeons to OB-GYNs. I was very impressed!

Maisie Dunbar with students of B. W. Harris Episcopal School

In a society where everyone wants to work for government, I was happy “no one wanted to work for the Government or be a girlfriend to a Minister. Some are already working on their own products; some are self-taught makeup artists.  When I left the school, all I could think of was how can I help them stay motivated in such an environment”.

The next school I visited was NetLIB Vocational Training Institute – located in Congo Town.  At this particular school, I was super impressed with the vocational programs that they had in place, everything from fashion design to drafting. The programs not only provided skills but also provided job placement.  It is not enough to just provide a skill, but it is even better when you can give the youth a job.  I was so impressed with the number of women I saw in the electrician and auto mechanic classes. Men, lookout!

One story that blew my mind was when I met a young woman who stated that because of the school, she learned how to bake.  She now bakes her goods and goes on the road to sell them. Now she is an up-and-coming small businesswoman in the making.  The young lady lit up as she spoke about her business. How empowering is that?! It left me pondering and I walked away thinking, when the road gets rocky and it will, how does she stay hopeful?

Maisie Dunbar with faculty of B. W. Harris Episcopal School

The last school I visited was The Liberian Returnees Network (LRN) on Carey Street.  At this school I was so impressed with these women, ranging from fashion design, home economics, to cosmetology. As a beauty professional, I was filled with joy to see all of these up coming beauty professionals. At this school, these women made everything from rice bread to slippers.

I must admit, when I found out, that left me perplexed.  After they are finished with school, they have no placement — these are wives, and mothers in this program.  My cry to my fellow Liberians Businesses is to please go to this school and recruit. (I must say the pastries were delicious).

I visited the last two schools with the joint venture of ALBA (Association of Liberian Businesses of America) President Hawa Marvie. Hawa is for sure a like minded Liberian Women that sees Hope in the Hopeless.

As I headed out of Liberia, I could not help but ask myself the same question, did you leave Liberia the way you met it?  My answer to myself was NO! I impacted over 100 youth and women in one trip, with no money from anyone.  We can all do our part.  It all begins with one.

Please Join me, Maisie Dunbar and Let us all give Hope to the Hopeless!

9 COMMENTS

  1. Miss Dunbar,

    I read your story and I am sure you had a very good time at home and I am glad that you did.

    So, how did you impact the women whom you met on your trip? You just talked with them or did you share items with them? What exactly did you do?

    I am asking, Madam Dunbar, not to make mockery of your effort. Far from it. I agree with you 100% that our young sisters and mothers must be empowered to be able to lift themselves up from their present conditions and I, too, like you, am involved in capacity building and I want to see how best I can partner with you to continue to assist our people.

    Let me give you an example of what I did recently. I visited the USA recently, California, to be more precise and on that trip, I was able to get some used sewing machines and upon my return, I donated same to some women organizations free of charge. the only condition was that was that those machines should be used to teach young girls to learn how to sew.

    At present, 39 young females have something to look forward to on a daily basis. I was also able to negotiate for materials like needles, clothes and other accessories. it is in this light that I am asking you, Madam Dunbar.

    If you are so inclined, I am wiling and ready to work with you to pull resources. your decision.

    Peace.

  2. Petarus Dolo’s observation about JM is veracious. Based on Dolo’s observation, I would like to say a little more about JM, a young Liberian patriot I have known during the past year. Mr. JM is very gregarious. He exhibits stylishness. When he confronts a commenter, JM does it with respect and urbanity. In him is a panache that women of the Y-Generation yearn for. On a petite downside, JM is very, very quiet about the young beautiful Liberian women who blow his mind. It’s okay. Nothing hides. But one thing is clear. I, Dolo and many followers of this young man are optimistic about the fact that sooner or later, JM’s alta ego will be introduced.

    This must be said for the record. Should in case the young man’s alta ego (his other half, let’s say his beautiful girlfriend) is introduced, his uncle Dolo and I will plan a party regardless of the distance. Without a shred of doubt, it’s been a pleasure knowing this young Liberian thinker.

    As always ladies and gentlemen,
    peace.

  3. My dad thinks that all the accolades being heaped on me by my two favorite uncles will somehow get to my head and pomposity will start to set in. Far from it.

    A brief story: I was in love with a girl, or thought I was. she was three years my senior in age. She was not “feeling me” and she dumped me because I was not in her league. Unlike you, Uncle Hney, I did not roam the land, trying to find solace. I took to my room and tried to drown myself in sorrow. My mom and sister teased me mercilessly. Luckily for me, my dad was on side. I decided to take a vow of celibacy and join the priesthood. I also decided to go to china and become a monk. wild thoughts were going through my mind. My dad talked me out of all the nonsense that was clouding my mind.

    Then true love came and I met Patricia (her real name) and a finer lady no man has ever seen. Her eyes held the stars. My heart was at peace until Death came by and laid his icy hands on my Patricia. that was three years ago.

    So, Uncle Hney, at the moment, I don’t have an alter ego. when I do, you will be one of the first to know. At the moment, I am focusing on myself more and on mentoring young leaders for tomorrow. My earlier invitation to come and share some of your thoughts and experiences with them still stands

    This is the story of my life. Too much information, I know, but I just thought that you two should know.

    Peace

  4. Too said to hear about the demise of Patricia.

    Joe, become a writer. Start with Uncle Hney’s love story. Join the ranks of Liberian writers. I can lend you a firsthand brush through before submitting for editing. You are indeed one of the few young Liberians with a real passion and intelligentsia for writing.
    Your Uncle’s words of praise for you is not a mere flattery but true admiration and esteem for you.
    It has always been a pleasure exchanging views with you and seeing you moderate and reconcile opposing views on this blog.

    Good morning Joe!

  5. Good morning JM,
    Hope you and your family are doing well. I came down with the flu. Thanks be to God because I am slowly recuperating. My voice is also clearing and my appetite is almost on track. Say hello to your sister and parents.

    Sorry about the sad news of your past. Just be informed that I am very supportive of you. I read your comments; they’re very intriguing. You have an outgoing personality. It shows. Hope your day is fruitful.

    Blessings.

  6. Thanks Dolo. Like JM, I am proud of you. You’re right, I didn’t praise JM as a way of flattering him. Oh yes, God knows where my heart is on that. Yet you did not consult with me to say that he was not being flattered. Thanks young man. Like JM, you’re one of a kind.

    A place was named after Tubman in the second Plateau area. How is that area these days?

    It’s exactly 6:06 a.m. I am about to watch MSNBC and grab a cup of decaffeinated coffee. We will meet somewhere down the road today. Until then,
    Have a great day!

  7. Good morning Hney,

    Thank God you are starting the day with a cup of decaffeinated coffee. I can rest assure that the day will be bright and cheerful.

    Tubman did not really make an impact on the Ivory Coast but Tolbert. We have places named in this country after the late President William R. Tolbert Jr. The place you are referring to is Williamsville (in English, it could have been Williamsburg), there is an avenue in Korhogo (north) called Avenue Tolbert, and so many public edifices and institutions. Do you know why? Houphouet Boigny, the first president of the Ivory Coast, being a simple medical doctor and traditional chief, owe is economic successes largely to the Liberian president William R. Tolbert. The economy of this country is textually copied from the Liberian model. Unfortunately, Tolbert did not live to finish his endeavors, like Houphouet, for his people to reap the economic benefits. Our zealous passionately so-called patriots shortened his days on earth.
    The friendship between the 2 presidents was so deep that one of Houphouet’s daughters was promised in marriage to Tolbert’s only son who was also maliciously butchered by our cynical heroes.

    My regards!

  8. Thanks for sharing this story here. Liberia is a very poor country. I have been working at Ri’ayah Foundation Inc. This organization provides Healthcare, education, Female Empowerment, Youth Development Programs for Liberian people. Our organization is also trying with full effort for Liberian people for a better future.

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