Seasonal Reflections: Thankfulness Amid Immense Challenges

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Tomorrow is Christmas, leading us to praise the Almighty for giving us a Savior to redeem us from our sins and  to show us the way to salvation through faith,  forgiveness and reconciliation.

Despite the tragic toll which   Ebola has inflicted upon us and our neighbors in the Mano River basin, we have a lot to be immensely thankful for.  First, this terrible disease which has hit us in 2014 more tragically than any other in our history, is fast receding.  Thankfully, we were able to hold the elections peacefully.  We have heard of absolutely no confusion or discord anywhere.

For this we are grateful to God, to the National Elections Commission for a job well done; to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the entire government that helped make this possible; and to the electorate for being well behaved and cooperative throughout the poll amid the Ebola crisis. 

The electorate for the most part obeyed the rules which the health authorities and NEC put into place to protect voters from Ebola.

Nevertheless, there were many who did not venture to the polls because of Ebola fear, which contributed to a low voter turnout.  But thank God the poll was successful and each county was able to elect its one Senator and save the country from a constitutional crisis come January, when the bicameral Legislature must convene for the continuation of the third Session of the 53rd Legislature and to hear the President’s Annual Message to the Nation.

Now, as we approach the coming New Year, we must reflect soberly on the challenges that await us in 2015.  First and foremost, we must strive to be declared Ebola-free.  This means that we should continue to restrain ourselves in this festive Season.  As we celebrate Christmas and New Year, let us do so with reflection and sobriety, avoiding large gatherings, touching and continue observing the rules that have helped us almost completely eradicate the virus.  If we can continue to exercise self-discipline, it is possible that by year’s end or January ending Ebola would be gone and WHO would be ready to give us a clean bill of health.  But let us remember that the onus is on us!

In the post-Ebola period the emphasis must be on rebuilding our Healthcare Delivery System.  As we have often reiterated in this newspaper, Liberia already has a strong head start with pledges from our Chinese and American partners to help us achieve this mission.

What we need is a roadmap: the Liberian government must come forward with a comprehensive and visionary plan to plant hospitals and clinics throughout the country, well equipped, well -staffed and proportionately distributed among the population to stop our pregnant mothers and children under five from traveling far distances for medical attention.

We must intensify training of nurses and paramedics, lab technologists, medical doctors and medical specialists of every kind in the fields of prevention and cure. 

BUT—and this is a BIG BUT: how can we begin the march to achieving this when we cannot pay the stipends of the few medical students we have?  The government and the whole nation must get a lot more serious about health and medical training and about the whole educational system.

Fixing our educational system from nursery to tertiary as well as vocational and technical skills training is the next major challenge.  Whom else can we find to accomplish this fundamental assignment when the Legislature has rejected so highly qualified a candidate as Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell?

We pray that we can soon resume work on the hydro, the West African Power Pool installations and the road system two vital drivers of the national economy.  Without energy and well planned, constructed and maintained network of roads, the growth of commerce and industry are seriously impaired.

We must find a way to fix Agriculture, too, so that our farmers are empowered to feed the nation.  But this, too, is a very serious challenge that needs serious people to do it.

All of these challenges must be tackled with patriotic fervor, vision, efficiency and vigor so that the Liberian people may become convinced that government is working for them.  It is then that they will become interested and involved in every national endeavor, including elections when they realize that their government is seriously working for them.         

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