|Honored to be sitting next to one of my heroes: Mary Beh|
|Ma Beh with some of her children. June 2013|
The first person I'd like you to know about is Ma Beh. Mary Beh has been a friend of our family for over 30 years. Before the wars she was a high school principal in Buchanan and demonstrated outstanding leadership and organizational skills. She has that certain something that causes people to want to do what she asks them to do. I think it has to do with the fact that she doesn't want you to do stuff for her self interests. She wants you to do things for yourself. Whatever the case I could go on and on about her 'intangibles" and she really is just simply an amazing person. I'd like to share a few 'tangibles' with you though...
|L to R: Ma Mary Beh, Bob Sheffler, Bishop Foster, Ken Vogel, Wilmot Kadyu, Wayne Meece, Abba Karnga, Ron Ayers, James Morgan in Liberia app. 1978|
First, she stayed in Liberia throughout the wars. I don't say this to induce guilt on anyone. I know that I have struggled with feelings of shame having known my friends were living in hell while I was in the States in relative peace. I understand how many in the Liberian diaspora also struggle with these feelings knowing they had loved ones in danger in Liberia while they were safe. Call it 'survivor's guilt' or whatever, but Ma Beh and others like her can actually help cure us of this guilt. There is nothing more healing than to have someone who lived through that hell accept you and tell you that 'you are welcome' here. She doesn't wear this as a badge of honor or 'lord it over' anyone, but I think the fact that she stayed during the wars deserves respect. She is one who could have possibly made it out of the country. She chose to stay and Liberia is better because she did. She has seen evil face to face and she has stood her ground. She has prayed the devil back to hell so to speak.
|My parents with Ma Beh in 2011|
Second, she has saved countless lives. While staying in Buchanan during the war she began feeding children that had been orphaned from the violence and chaos of the destruction. She simply says that she fed them because that is what anyone would do. She is wrong about that, not everyone would share scarce food in the middle of a conflict not knowing from where the next meal would come. However, anyone who demonstrates Ma Beh's same spirit most assuredly would feed a hungry child. There is no hesitation, no second guessing. We can live and die together, but no one lives alone. Ma Beh is the kind of person who would stand beside you facing either life or death.
|This dear man was a teacher before the war. |
He lost his eyesight due to lack of medicine
and after his wife passed he had
no one to help him raise his 5 children.
Ma Beh took them in and he comes
over and visits them regularly
to touch their faces.
|The area where a heartman had earlier jumped the orphanage fence to 'harvest' a young child. Ma Beh has since raised funds to place wire there to provide some protection for her children.|
|Some of the many children that share Ma Beh's table. 2008.|
I leave you with some of her children greeting us in a song she taught them...