The African nation of Liberia, located on the Western Coast of the continent is noted for the Ebola epidemic that severely impacted the country in 2014, as well as a civil war that claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of people in the 1990s and 2000s. The sorrowful images of disease and war linger on. But citizens of the democratic nation, many of them who escaped the turmoil and instability and now living abroad, have not given up on their nation.
Ebenezer Norman, founder of Denver-based non-profit A New Dimension of Hope is one of many Liberians working to fill the gaps in girls’ and women’s education in the nation of about 5 million people. He is a graduate of Regis University in Denver.
At a dinner event on May 14th at the DoubleTree Hotel in Southeast Aurora, Norman bemoaned why he was born in what he described as one of the poorest countries in the world. “Why was I born in one of the poorest countries in the world,” he wondered out loud. The event was designed to raise funds to support his goal to add three more classrooms and a cafeteria to a school he constructed in the Mehmet town in Liberia. A lot of his fellow Liberians are repeating the benefits of education through literary training, he told the audience.
Before Mehmeh, the Uber and Lift driver turned philanthropist, built other schools, including a school in Troyah town, which he said was recently demolished because of property disputes with the government. He said his activities are meant to fulfill his goal of providing universal primary education to girls especially, something the government is unable to realize.
Norman said there is perhaps a reason why he is so passionate about working with the American community in far-away Colorado to bring change to Liberia. Citing the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Mahatma Gandhi of India, he talked about one person’s determination that can change the fortunes of an entire community.
On hand to support the efforts were leaders from the local community, including Stacey Bush, educator, and a principal at Global Village Academy in Colorado.
‘These challenges exist everywhere, including here in the United States,” Bush said. While handing an envelope with financial contributions from her students and community to Norman, Bush said they wanted to learn, grow and contribute and build a school in Liberia.
Also, on hand to support these educational efforts was Priscilla Rahn, an educator who is also the vice-chair of the Colorado Republican Party.
“You see, education and opportunity go hand in hand,” Rahn said. “Let’s work together on the issue of education. A woman’s education can make a world of difference.”
The event, which included an arts and crafts sale, was attended by an estimated 150 people, including Liberians in Colorado and politicians from the state.