Global Communities' President & CEO Thanks Ebola Response Team for their Important Work

Global Communities' President & CEO Thanks Ebola Response Team for their Important Work

David Weiss’ visit to Liberia prompts reflection on results achieved, work left to do in Global Communities’ Ebola response

By Alice Urban, Global Communities

David Weiss visits Global Communities Liberia
Global Communities staff meet with Weiss (second from left), who expressed gratitude to the team and told them of their outstanding reputation in Washington, D.C.

Monrovia, Liberia – When Global Communities President and CEO David A. Weiss visited Liberia last week, he brought a strong and sincere message: “Thank you” for “some of the most important work to be done.”

In his two-day trip, Weiss met with Ebola-response program leadership and Global Communities staff, toured the Global Communities-operated safe burial site at Disco Hill and the Sector 4 Montserrado County coordination hub.

He also conducted meetings with U.S. Government officials including Ambassador Deborah Malac and USAID Mission Director John Winfield to discuss Ebola response to date as well as post-disaster recovery needs.

David Weiss
Weiss praises the team for their work in combatting Ebola and stepping up to take on difficult tasks.

“I’m not sure where to begin but to say thank you,” said Weiss in an address to nearly 50 staff members at an office luncheon at Global Communities’ Monrovia headquarters.

“The work that you do is difficult, horrific and sometimes gruesome. But it’s some of the most important work to be done,” he said of the group’s support for burial and disinfection teams, management of safe and dignified burials, hazardous waste incineration and contact tracing and social outreach in some of Liberia’s most Ebola-devastated communities.

Weiss noted the positive reputation that Global Communities has developed in Washington DC for effective Ebola response and that high-level officials have congratulated him for the work of the team in Liberia.

“Knowing that all of you are behind that makes me very proud. The work that you do is courageous and takes huge dedication,” he said. “Everyone is a link in the chain that makes this an effective, coordinated response.” He added that the fight against Ebola is not over yet and urged staff to continue their dedication to eradicating Ebola from Liberia.

In response to Weiss’ message of pride for the country team’s work and encouragement in the continued fight against the virus, staff members were asked what they were most proud of in their specific Ebola response work, and what work they have left to do.

Elizabeth Smith-Geddeh

Name: Elizabeth Smith-Geddeh

Title: Rural WASH Program Manager, Nimba County Ebola Response Advisor

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 5 years

Where are you from? Nimba County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I am most proud of the communities we work with. They have come to appreciate the importance of safe hygiene. And now they are proud of themselves for making that change. They see the impact.”

What do you have left to do? “I have to look at the communities that haven’t made those changes yet. I have to take steps to help them so they can be proud too.” 

Michael Fogbawa

Name: Michael Fogbawa

Title: Program Manager

Where are you from? Bong County, Liberia

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 5 years

What are you most proud of? “I’m proud of how we effectively moved our work from Bong to Gbarpolu County when a need arose there. We came up with a canoe crossing idea for burial teams to reach an area on an island where the vehicles couldn’t go.”

What do you have left to do? “Now, my focus is on the four county-wide responses I’m managing to continue active case search and to build community systems to monitor visitors so that no sick people come in without screening.”

LeRoy T. Johnson

Name: LeRoy T. Johnson

Title: Deputy Chief of Party for IWASH, Lofa County Ebola Response Advisor

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 5 years

Where are you from? Sinoe County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I’m proud of how we have taught communities that this fight against Ebola is their fight, but we can support and educate them – that we work together with community people.”

What do you have left to do? “In the places where we’ve had success, we need to go on to support people to rebuild their lives.” 

Matt Ward

Name: Matt Ward

Title: Ebola Response Coordinator

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 3 months

Where are you from? Burlington, VT

What are you most proud of? “I’m proud of the fact that the safe burial site is up and running and that we’re able to bury the number of people that we’re burying with the level of care and safety that we’re conducting.”

What do you have left to do? “We’re going to continue burials with the same level of care and service. My immediate challenge is expanding the cemetery to meet the short- and medium-term needs of the community.”

Evans Kotio

Name: Evans Kotio

Title: Logistics Officer

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 3 months

Where are you from? Lofa County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I’m proud that I provided logistics support and made sure our teams had what they needed. I’m proud that I dispatched vehicles across the country to transport IPC [infection prevention and control] materials where they were really needed.”

What do you have left to do? “My next step is to visit our drivers in remote counties to provide driver trainings to maintain high levels of safety.”

Zuhier Manhal-Moanna

Name: Zuhier Manhal-Moanna

Title: Director of Finance and Administration

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 5 years

Where are you from? Beirut, Lebanon

What are you most proud of? “I am proud that we have controlled our expenditures and maintained careful financial management during the crisis. Many places where we work here are very difficult to reach, and we are dealing with large sums of money and complex programs.”

What do you have left to do? “We should continue to fight Ebola but at the same time figure out its long-term impact on people. Financially, we will continue to keep a high level of accuracy and accountability.”

Layee Kamera

Name: Layee Kamera

Title: Senior Driver

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 4 years

Where are you from? Lofa County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I’m most proud that when Ebola first broke out, me and [Global Communities Country Director] Piet [deVries] went to Foya, where things were really bad. We supported hospitals and gave chlorine and soap. We were right there when it started.”

What do you have left to do? “My focus now is to work to keep the vehicle safe and ready to go for our next mission.”

Josh Balser

Name: Josh Balser

Title: Emergency Response Officer

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 4 months

Where are you from? Atlanta, GA

What are you most proud of? “I am most proud of the way we’ve handled the most recent outbreak in Sector 4, where we are coordinating the response. It shows how it takes a team effort to keep new cases from emerging.”

What do you have left to do? “Now we need to figure out how to eventually transition back to normal, everyday life. We plan to work on setting up a strong communication structure in Montserrado County so that densely populated areas can safeguard against future infection.” 

Alonzo Bayoh

Name: Alonzo Bayoh

Title: Incinerator Supervisor

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 2 months

Where are you from? Lofa County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I am very proud of the sanitary aspect of our response. This includes the gathering of PPE [person protective equipment] from our burial teams at Disco Hill and burning it down without delay. That environment is very safe and dignifies the area where we work.”

What do you have left to do? “What is left to do is for us is to go to clinic areas that do not have incinerators. We will collect that waste to burn it down until the provision is made for the clinics to have their own incinerators.”

Abbiseh Pitte

Name: Abbiseh Pitte

Title: Contact Tracing Coordinator

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 4 months

Where are you from? Bong County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “I’m proud of our response in contact tracing to make sure Ebola goes down. I coordinate contact tracers in four counties [who identify and monitor individuals who had contact with a sick person]. I’m proud that we go in so fast to make sure cases don’t spread.”

What do you have left to do? “Now, for active case search, we make sure we find people who are sick and test them. If they are [Ebola] positive, they get care at the holding center. If they are not positive, they go back to the community and we monitor them.”

Marcy Sallor

Name: Marcy Sallor

Title: Information Management/M&E Officer

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 1 year 3 months

Where are you from? River Gee County, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “What I am really proud of has to do with the fact that we have a database on body pickup. Before we were managing safe burials, people didn’t know what was happening to the dead. Our process made sure our records were accurate and people had information.”

What do you have left to do? “The process is still ongoing. We still have to manage our data. What I’m working on is cleaning the data and filling in the blanks to make sure we don’t have duplication and that we have as accurate records as possible.”

Mawatta Sherif

Name: Mawatta Sherif

Title: Program Officer

Tenure at Global Communities/Liberia: 4 years 11 months

Where are you from? Monrovia, Liberia

What are you most proud of? “For me, I’m proud of my work because it is very diversified. I give support to all the different components of the program, whether it’s making sure we’re working with traditional leaders or organizing events. I’m on call to support all components.”

What do you have left to do? “For me, I want to encourage the best communication within our operations to make sure we’re doing things as quickly and efficiently as possible program wise.”