The Case for a Brumskine Presidency: Part 1 – Character & Integrity

Charles W. Brumskine (CWB) has devoted his life and career to making the Republic of Liberia a fairer, just and equitable society. Generous with his personal resources, magnanimous toward antagonists, accommodating with dissenting and contrarian views, scrupulous in his jurisprudence, ever the willing and available public servant – not forgetting his commitment to family and faith – CWB represents a model of the caliber of public leadership Mama Liberia so desperately craves.

CWB exudes a generous spirit, never holding back denying those who come seeking a gift for food, school fees, or medicine for a sick child. He does not trumpet his generosity to garner public recognition; rather he follows the teaching of Jesus who said, “Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” Countless students across Liberia can point to CWB as the silent benefactor who kept them in school. He wisely employed his hard-earned resources to provide scholarships to students who agreed to spend their vacation in their home villages. He has been generous toward those with fewer opportunities. Market women can testify that he personally indemnified their loans to ensure capital for small businesses that provided food, tuition, funds for hospital visits, and a sense of security.

His deep and abiding faith teaches and demands fairness toward all antagonist. “Bless those who persecute you”, he was taught from an early age. And CWB is known to bless his adversaries. Though forced unnecessarily into exiled by the NPP-led government in 1999, he has never spoken negatively about any of his former colleagues. On the contrary, he has endeavored to build bridges, recognizing that reconciliation is the clearest path to national healing and sustained nation building.

The next shepherd of Liberia’s democracy must be tolerant and accommodating of dissenting and contrarian views. CWB radiates just the kind of personality and disposition required in our next president. He is calm, reflective, confident, assertive, accommodating – possessing a big heart and wide open arms. He welcomes a spirited debate and will hold his ground; he is quick to recognize and embrace a good idea even if it differs from his point of view – precisely the temperament we seek in our leader.

His jurisprudence exemplifies his devotion to his fellow citizens. Like his father – the giant and gallant legal hero of countless improvised Liberians, Hannibal Brumskine – CWB believes that the law must equally serve all citizens. He believes the law serves not just the purposes of the rich and well-connected, but, like the Cross, the law is the equalizer of all men. Consequently, CWB has represented both affluent and poor clients, always employing the law to advance quality of life for all Liberians.

Moreover, CWB is ever the enthusiastic and available public servant. On a sultry Monrovia evening in late 2015, he shared a plate of sushi with friends at a local restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Guinea. The ambience of the evening was appropriate for a couple of hours of conversation. They talked about politics, history, current events, food, faith and many other topics. Just before dinner ended, CWB shared elements of how he would govern Liberia when given the opportunity. His disclosure was a concise and thoughtful explication of his governing philosophy; it was evident that he had given much thought and prayer to his response. He spoke about King David, Israel’s greatest military and political leader, as a model of the kind of leadership required to lift Liberia. He spoke lengthily about David’s faith, David’s fairness, and David’s fortitude. Listening to him, it is evident that he places premium stock on public service. His heart radiates the kind of selflessness that we seek and demand in our next president.

He has spent the last 42 years with his college sweetheart; this is a man who stands by his commitment. Together, CWB and Estelle have raised three wonderful children.

Finally, the glue that holds his character and integrity intact is his unwavering submission to the Lordship of his Savior Jesus Christ. His deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ affords him a Kingdom perspective that informs his public service. CWB loves the Lord and he brings that love of God – and fear of God – to the presidency of Liberia.

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The Persistent Ebola Threat

Ebola is over, but it is not really over! That is the crux of preliminary findings of a study done with 82 Ebola survivors in Liberia. The Ebola outbreak did not only diminish an already weak healthcare system but also left significant long-term health challenges among survivors. According to the study, large numbers of Ebola survivors had developed weakness, memory loss, and depressive symptoms in the six months after being discharged from an Ebola treatment unit. The average age of the 82 Liberian survivors in the study is 35.
In addition, other patients were “actively suicidal” or still having hallucinations. About two-thirds had body weakness, while regular headaches, depressive symptoms, and memory loss were found in half of the patients. Two of the patients had been actively suicidal at the time of the assessment. Furthermore, other symptoms, including eye problems, indicate damage to the brain, which may not heal.
Dr. Lauren Bowen, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said: “It was pretty striking, this is a young population of patients, and we wouldn’t expect to have seen these sorts of problems. When people had memory loss, it tended to affect their daily living, with some feeling they couldn’t return to school or normal jobs, some had terrible sleeping problems. Ebola hasn’t gone away for these people.”
Infection with Ebola ravages the body. Some of the symptoms could improve with time as the body heals; others may be due to social trauma as many survivors are ostracized from their families and communities.
Prof Jimmy Whitworth, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The findings show high levels of mental and neurological problems in the survivors and from the clinical neurological findings these appear to be very real problems.”
At the same time, data presented previously at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, raised concerns about sexual transmission of the virus in survivors. It indicated 38% of men had tested positive for Ebola in their semen on at least one occasion in the year after recovering. And in the most extreme case, Ebola had been detected 18 months later. Yet most survivors reported being sexually active, with only four in every 100 using a condom.
Clearly, there is much to be done immediately and in the future. This cannot be a burden shouldered by the government alone. Our national resources are limited, but our priorities are many. We must assume a whole-of-society posture to fully tackle and mitigate the risk of post-Ebola health challenges. The government has taken the lead in developing a policy framework for program and services for survivors. Now, all of the society must contribute in terms of program implementation.
Individuals and families need to start where they are, work with whatever they have and do what they can. Do what you can in your neighborhood. Do what you can in your village, town, or county.
Houses of faith must join this common national effort. Churches and mosques have tremendous resources to bear on this problem. Their encouragement, prayers, comfort, and guidance can help assuage the apprehension and sense of defeat common among survivors. Do what you can in you church or mosque.
Businesses also have a role to play; they can make financial contributions to community-based organizations providing services to Ebola survivors.
Civil society also has a role to play in this effort. Youth groups, women’s groups, traditional elders, and all of the civil society must stand squarely with our brethren who have survived Ebola. Our collective voice must preach a message of acceptance and inclusion.
Together, we can guarantee a healthy future for all Liberians.

For a healthy Liberia,
Peter Paye


Together, Let’s Imagine an Opportunity Society for Liberia

Imagine a Liberia that boasts first-class public schools with vibrant learning spaces and well-equipped educators in every corner of our great nation.

Imagine a Liberia that gives every child in every county a platform to flourish and be the very best citizen she can be.

Imagine a Liberia where everyone who needs to see a doctor can afford the visit and the care; a Liberia where pregnancy is not a death warrant and every newborn has a fighting chance at life.

Imagine a Liberia with a small, smart, and efficient government and a thriving private sector where every family can access the good-paying jobs and social investments that support a secure, middle-class life.

Imagine a Liberia where Liberians own and operate businesses, and have a bigger stake in the economy, a Liberia that actually belongs to Liberians.

Imagine a Liberia that invests significantly in Agriculture and feeds her population, and a Liberia that invests in roads, bridges and a decent airport.

Imagine a Liberia where the courts work for everyone regardless of socio-economic status, political posture, or sectarian affiliations.

Imagine a Liberia that is environmentally conscious, caring for her rain forest, her rivers and wetlands, her beautiful beaches, and her diverse animal species.

This Liberia is possible. Liberian Solutions seeks to advance policy solutions that shine a light on how we can realize this Liberia together. And the work continues in 2015.

As we begin 2015, we are committed to promoting responsible policies that strengthen Liberia’s economy one family, one student and one business at a time. Using rock-solid research, we will help shape the most important policy debates of our time.

So, what do you imagine for Liberia?


The Coming Wave of Debilitated Liberian Men

Every day in Monrovia, and all around Liberia, thousands of young, well-toned Liberian men rise early and mount a motor bike to ferry commuters from one place to another. These men provide an important economic service, and should be celebrated. I have observed that most of them actually take pride in their work. There is a detectible spirit of comradery among motorcyclists, or “Pen-pen” as we call them.

In spite of their invaluable economic service and strong comradery, pen-pens represent a rising public health challenge. They ride without helmets, and they are generally reckless – weaving in and out of traffic on Monrovia’s skinny roads, or bumpy dirt roads in the country side. Absence of helmets and reckless riding present immediate threats, both to pen-pens and pedestrians.

However, a big, quieter threat lurks just beneath the surface. Consider that the average pen-pen rides 10 hours a day, six days a week. That’s 60 hours week, 3,120 hours per year. Meanwhile, the lack of helmets mean their eyes are exposed to the elements, especially the wind. In addition, they inhale all the fumes in the air. You and I know how polluted the air is in Liberia. So, a pen-pen who rides for 5 years accumulates 15,600 hours of exposure to the elements – too many hours of exposure that can lead to serious health consequences.

After speaking with several pen-pens during recent visits to Liberia, it is becoming clear to me that a wave is gathering that requires urgent attention. I have spoken to pen-pens who complain of pain in their eyes and chest. It comes as no surprise. Our brothers will have significant visual impaired or be blind coupled compromised respiratory functions. The combination of impaired vision and compromised lung function presents a serious public health challenge. It won’t be very long belong these men can’t see and can’t breathe well. It won’t be too long before they can’t work; we can be sure that they will turn to the government and their families for assistance.

Even more alarming is the fact that as you read this post, these our brothers are having multiple children by multiple women. It is easy to understand why: they have economic power because they can ride daily and earn some income. I am concerned about what will become of these children when their fathers are unable to work and provide food and school fees. Imagine the implications for the rest of society.

Instead of just requiring helmets, we have to develop educational modules that present the health consequences awaiting our dear brothers. Our posture cannot be confrontational; it must be one of a loving, caring community deeply concerned about our collective future.

For optimum health,
YPP


Health Policy

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