Monrovia - The Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for international affairs, has honored 31 animators and mobilizers for a dedicated fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

Drawn from the Brewersville, Caldwell, 72nd and King Gray communities, they were given certificates of recognition as part of NDI-CSO (civil society organization) partners’ Ebola response initiative at the P4DP office on March 19 with a minute of silence held for those who fell prey to the EVD. P4DP Executive Director James S. Shilue said the purpose of the ceremony was not only intended to reward heroes and heroines, but to also facilitate and encourage the cross fertilization of their experiences in the communities.

Shilue, who chairs the NDI-CSO consortium on natural resource management and governance, also commended the NDI and the media for a sustained coverage of various Ebola activities, including promotional messages. “Rather than making this to be a speech driven arrangement, I thought it was necessary to say thank you to those who have performed and also encourage everybody to be part of this drive.

“Yes, we are climaxing this arrangement, but we need to recognize the effort of the National Democratic Institute that actually provided this opportunity with funding from SIDA or the embassy of Sweden. We also want to say thank you to the Swedish government for this sort of support given to us through,” Shilue said while lauding a mutual partnership coexisting among the CSOs. Speaking on behalf of NDI acting country director Leo Plavoet, NDI program associate Jonathan Rose described the mobilizers and animators as foot soldiers against Ebola.

“You may think your effort was just a little one, but for us, we believe the breakthrough we are experiencing now was because of the effort that you exhibited. You were the foot soldiers and frontliners [against Ebola]. If the community empowerment was the secret weapon that brought the breakthrough, then the weapon must have been held by a soldier.
“And you are the soldiers. We want to say thank you for your effort. And your effort is not limited to what you have done or you are receiving today. Your effort is going to go viral to the international community. We are going to make the people to know that the situation we are experiencing now is because of a few groups of people who were committed and risk their lives [to save Liberia],” said Rose. John Freeman, the focal animator from Brewersville, commended the NDI-P4DP partnership for having given him the privilege to serve his community.

“I am grateful today to be part of such program. I also want to extend my appreciation to the NRM [natural resource management and governance] and NDI-CSO partner P4DP for the level of work they had entrusted us with and by the special grace of God we were able to implement it through coordination. I am grateful, on behalf of my team members and myself, [for this opportunity].

“What I hold in my hand today I see it as a challenge for my individual life and that of my community. You have helped us to help our community. We will not sit and relax. We can assure you that the Brewersville team will be all ears waiting for call at any time to work with the P4DP-NRM and NDI-CSO consortium in any situation that relates to our community,” Freeman promised.

But little did Shilue know that his plea to Liberians to remain vigilant until the final whistle is blown for celebration was in the right direction as a Caldwell resident tested positive for Ebola on March 20, casting doubt about Liberia being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization on April 13. While the 31 animators and mobilizers have earned a page in the history of Ebola in Liberia, they still have a few days to celebrate an Ebola free country and the countdown may have just begun.