Liberia: Turning so little into so much for so many

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"So it's started," writes Helen Sole, as her family leave the comfort of Connecticut for Liberia on a journey to the front line of global health.

In the company of her husband Peter, who is a trustee of Merlin US, and two of their children, Helen is visiting the post-conflict nation where Merlin is helping the government provide basic health care to over one million people.

Over the course of 10 days, Helen relates a key discovery: "Merlin changes the lives of individual people, which changes the lot of the villages in which they live, and ultimately changes the fate of the nation."

The cost of inequality

Prior to leaving, Helen paid $4,000 to protect herself and her family against an assortment of illness and tropical diseases.

"For less than $4,000," she writes, "Merlin can train a community midwife for two years, and then kit her with everything she needs to deliver healthy babies to healthy mothers for about two years."

Beyond the statistics, the scars of war

Landing in Monrovia, she sees the terrifying scars of the 14-year civil war everywhere. Approximately 75 per cent of Liberians live below the poverty line, 80 per cent are unemployed and only one-third are literate.

Beyond the statistics, Helen witnesses how the fallout of the war plays out among a group of boys in a friendly game of soccer, describing how "every boy on the [field] is on crutches and has only one leg."

Children were often the easy victims of brutal amputations in the war.

"The magic that turns so little into so much for so many"

"[What] strikes me is how much can be achieved with so little," remarks Helen. "This is due to the outstanding skills and dedication of Merlin's health workers, who work the magic that turns so little into so much for so many.

"What they do with donated money is alchemy," Helen writes.

"Merlin doubles, triples maybe even quadruples the value of the money we give with the priceless effort they put in. It's like watching miracles."