I am really looking forward to going back to Liberia in February! I have been thinking about all the reasons and I have identified 3 of my top reasons:
# 1-The people that are coming with me!
After a 2-year hiatus to get her Nurse Psych degree my beloved friend, Penny Grechus, will be returning with us. Penny’s heart lives in Liberia, and now she gets to visit it and nurture it so it will swell with over-flowing love. She will be able to help our fistula women emotionally through counseling. The women who have suffered a fistula have lost so much: a baby, family, health, friends-the list is long. The average age of a woman in Liberia with a fistula is 22 years old and they have had their fistula for 5 years! Imagine going through all that loss before you’re 18.
Last March a special group of ladies went with me to teach schoolgirls how to make Hygiene Kits. They learned how to make reusable menstrual pads. This is such an empowering project. As you know, education is so important for young girls. Having to miss school one week out of every month because you have a period puts girls at a big disadvantage. Many girls can’t afford disposable pads. The knowledge to make their own reusable, washable pads helps level the playing field. Last year this group taught 250 girls and women. The Ministry of Health was so impressed they invited them back to teach teachers of high school girls. The teachers can in turn teach more girls! Talk about paying it forward! What an honor to have these women rejoin us!
#2-I missed the fall trip.
After going in March, I was feeling that maybe I needed to take some time off. Little did I know that I would lose my brother and sister within 9 months of each other. My time off has allowed me to be with my family, grieve, heal, and rest. I am so grateful I had the time to focus on family at this critical time but I am feeling restless to return to my Liberian family.
# 3- So much is happening and I don’t want to miss out!
Dignity:Liberia has been advancing toward the building of the Maternity Waiting Home. We have the money to buy the land and start the building, but there are aspects of the planning that we need to address and it needs to be face-to-face. Since we are only there twice a year, it is important we accomplish a lot! We are fortunate to have exceptional representation in Liberia, but they look to us for guidance.
We also sent over a shipment last fall and it has arrived and needs to be unpacked. Be thinking about us Feb13-March 6th!
Thank for your support.
Penny and I go to Liberia feeling God's calling to do so. The Lord has blessed us with home, family, education and professions; and, we have all too well served ourselves. Now, it's about time to share.
Our goals for the trip are a renewed relationship with:
1) Liberian women who suffer and survive fistula,
2) the Liberia Fistula Project and Dr John Mulbah's team,
3) the Fistula Rehab Center staff and participants,
4) the Liberia Ministry of Health, planners of strategically located maternity waiting homes,
5) medical and nursing schools, OBGYN residency training institutions,
6) our Dignity: Liberia, Liberia board of directors, and
7) Lott Carey Baptist Missionary School and it's superintendent, our host, Emile Sam-Peale and his household.
Primarily, we feel the urgency of getting House of Hope and Dignity, our maternity waiting home, on the map. This means legally securing property, infrastructure of road and utilities, and getting the building built. Then the important task of getting the Lord's direction and getting the right people to help the waiting home become fully functional and integrated into the Liberia health service structure.
Penny and I desire to be the heart and hands to do what God has put in our souls to serve His people in Liberia. We have found great joy in the journey and stories of its people. Our American thoughts of 'doing' fall away in a Liberian way of "being." We feel a strengthening bond of the Dignity:Liberia mission teams as we partner to serve with our Liberian friends, patients and professionals.
Penny and I would like to thank those who donate to this service. Matthew 10:42
Linda Thornsberry, Secretary
One focus of the February, 2020 Liberia trip will be to teach 200-250 teachers how to make feminine hygiene kits.
In 2019, our team taught girls at Lott Carey Baptist Mission School, the Fistula Rehabilitation Center, and ladies and girls at Effort Baptist Church to make the kits.
We were pleased when the Liberia Ministry of Health invited us to return to teach the teachers. As these teachers teach students and others this will greatly increase the number of girls and women who can make their own kits giving them important control in their lives.
We are blessed by this opportunity to return to Liberia to work with the girls and women to become independent in their personal lives. their own kits giving them important control in their lives.
Kathy Beth Stavinoha, Board Member
I’ve been involved with Dignity:Liberia since 2012. I’ve spent time with those awaiting fistula repair surgery, as well as those who’ve had surgery. Some were healed, while others were still leaking. I understood what was going on in my head, but my heart didn’t comprehend the shame and pain, and the isolation caused by a fistula until 2018.
In 2018, I interviewed 12 fistula survivors (see our series In a Fistula Survivor’s Voice) who were brave enough to share their personal tragedies on our website. My heart was touched so powerfully by their words. I thought if I hadn’t gotten it before hearing their stories, others may not have either.
My goal for the February 2020 trip is to interview more fistula survivors as well as those who will benefit from learning how to make hygiene kits. I’m also looking forward to standing on the land where House of Hope and Dignity will be built. I’m eager to meet the ladies who went in March of last year and I’m very much looking forward to reuniting with my friends in Liberia.
Susie Calaway, Dignity Advocate
I am Susie Calaway from Chillicothe, MO and Calvary Baptist church. This is my second mission with Dignity:Liberia. I love to help and serve others and I fit right into this project. I'm a retired prison officer. The issues and needs of Liberian women touch my heart. I’m excited and ready to go serve.
Kay Green, Dignity Advocate
My name is Kay Green, from Chillicothe, MO and my church, Calvary Baptist, has been involved with sewing projects for Dignity:Liberia for years. It was my privilege to join the Dignity:Liberia team in 2019. From teaching the students, to the Rehab Center, to a distant village visit, I fell in love with Liberians and their hopes and struggles.
It will feel like homecoming to return with the team in 2020 to enhance and encourage women’s lives in Liberia. May God always receive all the glory in this mission.
Martha Griffin, Dignity Advocate
My decision to return to Africa for a second year was an easy one. After my first trip was over, I told myself that if I was ever asked to go back, I would.
During my first trip to Liberia, we talked to a young woman who was not able to attend her college classes because she lacked feminine hygiene products. She had recently been given a kit provided by Dignity:Liberia and was so grateful for the gift and the freedom it gave her. As a fellow woman, that conversation had a huge effect on me and emphasized the importance of our presence in Liberia. She attended the classes we taught and learned how to make her own hygiene kits. Because of our presence in her country, this young woman and her friends were able to go to school and not worry about things we take for granted. I feel like I found a purpose in Liberia and am honored to help out more young women like her.
Kathy Beth Stavinoha
Kathy Beth lives and works in Austin, TX. She graduated from high school in Monrovia, Liberia in 1977.