I have been awed, challenged and star-struck at different points. Now I write with hmmmm, don’t know how to describe these feelings…Shame?
Saran Kaba Jones of Liberia has shamed me into wondering why all we do is complain, when we can actually [and not just because Obama made it a popular saying] be the change we want to see.
Ah! You say, ‘What have happen?’ 30-year old Saran has happened. Africans in diaspora click and cluck about how we down here are getting it wrong; our policies, our electoral processes etc etc etc.
So many things in Africa are not as they should be, but how many would dare, leave their comfy 24-hour electricity, Starbucks coffee and Disneyland to come stick their foot on African soil on a semi-permanent basis? And not the ones that are deported oh, not those ones, no sir.
Saran chose to; she didn’t buy the back page of Thisday Newspaper [or whatever Newspaper in Liberia] and catalogue the ills of the Presidency for posterity or popularity sake.
She chose to make a definable difference, not write a book about who done it and who ‘didn’t done it’. If Africans did as much as they talked, if Nigerians did as much as they commented and ‘pundited’, ah! I won’t feel the weight of humility I feel now.
So Saran is this lady from Liberia; she’s born there, [June 21, 1982 precisely] and lives there until civil war breaks out.
In 1989 at the age of eight, Saran and her family leave Liberia and globe trot over the African continent. From Cote d’Ivoire to Egypt, on to France and Cyprus they trot until 1999, when they settle in the United States.
Saran studies at Lesley College in 1999 and soon transfers to Harvard College to study Government and International Relations. After college is successfully behind her, she spends 5-years working for the Private Equity arm of Singapore Government’s Economic Development Board.
Life is beautiful, perhaps, until Saran returns to the country of her birth in 2008 for a visit. Apparently, war-torn Liberia is a sight to drown hopes and dreams, and worse still; they are so poor and broken they do not have access to clean drinking water. Sound familiar?
[Break in transmission]
So, Saran has always had the heart to help others. Born of a diplomat Father, and extensively travelled, she always believed it was her calling in life to render aid to others less privileged than her beautiful self. She just didn’t know how it was to be done.
Her initial thoughts was to set up a fund that would sponsor children to school but after the above mentioned visit, needless to say enlightenment came.
Safe drinking water was more important than an education and, there were other organizations on ground already focused on that area-why duplicate efforts instead of covering more field in other areas? [Word of knowledge for the First Ladies of a certain African country who keep inaugurating the same type of Foundation tenure after tenure…]
Saran founded FACE Africa, a not-for profit Organization geared to provide access to safe drinking water, sanitary standards of living, and empower women through education and skills training in January 2009.
In October 2009, with a $10,000 grant from the Davis Project for Peace [a Vermont-based charity], FACE Africa implements its first clean water project in Barnesville, Liberia.
The project supplies over 600 residents with clean drinking water. Exactly one year later, FACE Africa initiates a water and sanitation project in a small rural community called Joezohn with no access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities.
That project is implemented in partnership with Concern Worldwide [an international humanitarian organization based in Ireland]. And so the nitty gritty work begins.
Liberians are drinking clean water thanks to a lady most of them didn’t know existed until a few minutes before the cool water slaked their thirsting mouths. Most of them probably still do not know she exists.
Come 2010, Saran travels to Liberia all the time to oversee projects in rural communities; she can’t keep up with her job anymore, and she resigns, a decision which she says, “Was a tough decision. I look back and ask myself how and why did I make that decision. Running your own organization or company or starting anything from scratch without funding is extremely hard.”
I hear you sister.
Has she ever doubted herself, her decisions, apparently!
But, Saran is a firm believer that if you set a goal and work hard enough you can achieve that goal.
“People will always doubt you and undermine you”,
she says in an interview with Heragenda.com.
“But if your heart is in the right place, you will succeed. You just have to do whatever is important to you in your life, even if it means sometimes you are scared and standing alone. And more importantly, surround yourself with people who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”
Future plans for FACE Africa? To provide clean, safe drinking water for EVERY SINGLE person in Liberia, and then target other African countries, with an emphasis on post conflict environment with similar challenges and needs as Liberia.
Future plans for Saran Jones nee Kaba? Starting a family tops her personal to-do list. Way to go!!!
P.S- Saran Kaba Jones is a serious fashionista FYI; you can be the trendiest thing around and still make a world of difference apparently. Good to know.
So just in case you were wondering, “But Jennifer you just did a whole lot of talking/writing now; what’s your beef with the world’s commentators?”
I shall answer you, but you would have to ask me yourself!