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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ecklund

My Birthday Wish

I am so fortunate... As I anticipate my 51st Birthday on April 3rd, I feel grateful! In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have everything I need - a safe place to live, food to eat, indoor plumbing, fresh water to drink, a job, and most importantly, my immediate family home and healthy! I’m especially grateful that Kaitlyn, my 19-year-old daughter, is home safely after needing to return early from her Medical Gap Year with YWAM Townsville in Australia! As a nurse, I’m thankful for the opportunity to work from home, triaging patients on the phone as I support the Family Medicine Clinic where I work. However, I’m overwhelmed and saddened as I think of the many healthcare workers that are on the front lines feeling taxed, working under challenging conditions, and without the supplies they need here in America and around the World. But when I allow myself to think of Liberia, I’m terrified wondering how they will manage with reports of only three ventilators in the entire country! I am concerned that thousands of Liberians could die and many of them could be people I know and love! This compels me to think, how can I make a difference from afar? For my birthday, I’m asking that my family and friends consider giving a financial gift on my behalf to support my “family” in Liberia. As many of you know, our non-profit, Keyara’s Gift, is based in Liberia and sponsors 93 students supported by seven Liberian Staff. This morning, Kreig and I spoke with Rev. Francis Kollie, the Country Director for Keyara’s Gift, and shared our concerns for what will probably be coming in regards to COVID-19. There are currently only six known COVID-19 cases in Liberia, but testing there is very limited. Just as we’ve watched around the world, we know there will be many more cases in Liberia. The Liberian schools have been shut down for the next several weeks. Students have been allowed to take home some of their textbooks to continue learning and our Case Workers will try to assist them. Originally, they planned to travel to their homes to help with tutoring, but in an effort to maintain social distancing, we have asked them to support the children over the phone. Even as I type the words “social distancing” in the context of Liberia, it seems like an oxymoron. Our students and their families live in simple homes that don’t have electricity, running water, flushing toilets or the ability to refrigerate food. Their lives exist through the help of community living. If funds allow, they go to the market daily to buy rice and other items to hopefully provide one meal a day for their family. Already the price of food and gas has increased making it even more difficult for people to survive. I have a BIG dream that we’ll be able to supply each of the Keyara’s Gift students and their families with a hand-washing bucket, pre-paid phone credit, washable fabric masks and three weeks worth of rice, oil, soap and bleach. If we can gather the funds quickly - before prices continue to increase, Rev. Francis and the Case Workers can deliver the supplies to each family. Upon delivery, they will remind them of the importance of social distancing, hand washing and covering their nose and mouth with a mask or fabric when they need to venture out to fetch water or go into the marketplace. To fund these efforts, Keyara’s Gift needs to raise about $5,000. Can you be part of turning my Birthday Wish and dream into a reality? We are in a race against time. The longer we wait, the more prices will go up and the more the virus will spread. Thank you so much, Karen Ecklund Executive Director Keyara's Gift

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