Dear Daughters of Liberia :
The officials and members of Liberia Higher Education and Development, Inc. (LIHEDE) are honored to invite officers and members of your organization to participate in a two-day symposium to brainstorm and develop a strategic plan for eradicating malaria in post-war Liberia .
First, I am prompted to recall the biblical lesson that, even before the “Word” or “Spirit” was made flesh and proceeded to reside in the person of Jesus Christ, for thousands of years – from the Old Stone Age to the closing of the last goddess temples, around AD 500 – women were at the forefront of all great civilizations. Women always brought love, peace, justice and equality to homes, communities and nations. It was no coincidence Jesus’ mother beheld her son in his last hours of agony on the cross.
In like manner, I am calling on you to be at the forefront of this symposium, not only because you are Liberians, but because of your divine role in life: your role in creating and nurturing life. Today in Liberia our children know little peace, as malaria continues to be a principal killer of our people: 4,500 Liberian children die each year from the disease. Across the African Continent, an estimated 500 million people contract malaria every year, up to 2 million die (half of them children), and tens of thousands are left with irreversible brain damage. This frightful death toll is equivalent to sending 27 fully loaded Boeing 757 jetliners crashing into a mountain every single day, year after year.
You cannot see their faces, as you read this letter. But if you lean back and close your eyes, your mind will take you to the nightmare of homes, tents and clinics where women and children shake with fever and convulsions, vomit when there is nothing left in their stomachs, and cry out from the pain and thirst. You will see the hollow eyes and anguished faces of husbands and parents, who must watch helplessly as their loved ones cling to life in the torment of their malaria, lapse into comas and permanent brain damage, or are laid in their graves.
As Liberians, we have a moral obligation to chart a new direction and change our malaria statistics for the better, by burying this national calamity in the dustbin of history. With our collective will, vision, nationalism and patriotism, we can do just that.
We therefore look forward to your active participation in the symposium, “Combating Malaria in Post-Conflict Liberia,” which will be held July 29-31, 2005 on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro .
This is not merely an opportunity to be part of an historical gathering, bringing together our nation’s best and brightest, to develop a plan for a malaria-free Liberia . It is also an opportunity to sign a declaration and proclamation – stating that we can no longer condone or tolerate letting our children die from a disease that is easily preventable, and that we must make the health of our citizens an integral part of our national agenda for democracy, political stability and socio-economic improvement.
We would also like to appeal to your organization to help in the dissemination of information for this symposium, and to make a modest donation to help underwrite the cost of the symposium. If your organization is unable to donate at this time, we still hope you will participate fully and look forward to seeing you and members of your organization at the symposium.
Dr. Syrulwa Somah , Executive Director-LIHEDE (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)