| Edith Gongloe-Weh
I am the daughter of the late Wilfred Kehleboe Gongloe (Teacher)and Elizabeth Menguah Gongloe (Farmer). I am a mother of four beautiful children and a wife to an amazing husband of nearly 20 years.
My father committed his entire life to the education of his people. After graduating from the Winnifred Harley Practical Nursing School in Ganta, Nimba County, my father was offered a nursing position by the then Liberian-American-Swedish Mining Company (LAMCO). Instead, he chose to pursue a career in education, to help educate his people. Upon graduation from the Zorzor Teacher’s Training Institute, my father returned to his village where he established a primary school to provide educational opportunities for village kids, who would not have had any means or opportunity to ever learn how to read and write.
While my father was in the classroom teaching, my mother focused on farming to support the family and augment her husband’s meager monthly salary of $42.00. My mother worked hard at planting various crops. She sold the produce to support her eight children, several children of relatives and just about anybody who came to live with the family in pursuit of education.
I am the 4th of 8 children. Like every parent, my father wanted the best possible education, mixed with positive social exposures for me and my siblings and every child that he could help. My father particularly valued the education of the girl child. He wanted me to get positive social exposure that was not found in the village. Like many families did then and continue to do today in Liberia. I was sent to live with my uncle, Gabriel Gongloe at an early age of 7 in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. Though, a poor man, Uncle Gabriel wanted the best education for me as well. He lived and worked to keep me in school on his meager income. I worked hard to keep my promise to my parents that I would be a good, studious and obedient child.
I have been working for and on behalf of everyday Liberians all my life and that stems from being raised by two hard-working and caring parents who taught me the value of service: serving your community and making sure everyone is given a fair chance to reach their full potential. With peace ushered in Liberia in more than 14 years, I knew that there would be insurmountable challenges at all fronts in Liberia. So, I began to make plans to move back to Liberia and contribute to the post-war rebuilding and development agendas. So, after the elections, I moved back. I worked for my people in Nimba county as the County’s first post war female Superintendent (A County Superintendent in Liberia is the equivalence of a governor of a state). As Superintendent, I was able to see first-hand, some of the common sense directions that the county needed to change the challenges of our people.
My team and I:
- Designed and implemented a financial aid system that benefited over 2000 Nimba students in various universities throughout Liberia...because we knew all too well that education is the key to the future of the county and of course, Liberia.
- Reconstructed over 15 streets and 10 concrete culvert bridges in Sanniquellie City to ease the traveling burden in the city that had stalled movement of residents in general. Several farm to market roads were reconstructed, connecting towns and villages to major markets in cities throughout the county.
- Pushed for equal participation of women in governance issues at district levels, by ensuring that every district had women representation on their district development council.
- Instituted students’ vacation job program by engaging with investment companies operating in the county. Our engagement resulted to over 1000 youths benefiting from vacation jobs that gave them vocational experiences through mentoring by skilled employees. The move was to hold investment companies accountable to increasing their corporate social responsibility to the people of Nimba in addition to the yearly benefit remittance as corporate citizens of the County.
After my term as Superintendent, I transitioned to the private sector where I worked in development practice. I worked with both local grassroots organizations and international development agencies, including USAID, WHO and EU/EPOS, et cetera, working on healthcare related projects and social development programs.
During the years of the Liberian civil war, I worked on the frontlines as a journalist for Star Radio, the only credible Liberian media institution operating in the Country at the time. I fearlessly reported accounts of the atrocities being committed against the innocent and the most vulnerable in society-the elderly, children, women (and pregnant pregnant), the disabled, et cetera. These victims of the war, who had nothing to do with the war, were being victimized twice. And as you would imagine, my own life was threatened by rebel fighters and their leaders.
I was left with no choice, I received death threats in the hopes of silencing me; but nothing could stop my commitment to reporting the atrocities committed against innocent people by gun brandishing, greedy and self-seeking politicians in the name of liberation. What an irony—professing to “LIBERATE” people, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, whom they claim to liberate. I felt then, as I still fell today, that it was my obligation to speak the truth and let the world know what was really going on, even at the expense of my life and the lives of my family.
Even when the war subsided in 1997 with the election of former President Charles Taylor, I was still a target of the then government due to my continued reporting of critical events in the country. In the end, I was left with no choice but to flee Liberia to seek refuge abroad for my safety as the threat against my life increased. I went to the United States of America.Throughout my stay in America, Liberia was always front and center in everything I did. I was overwhelmed especially by the destitution and sufferings of the people. Despite their sufferings, the Liberian people gave me hope. Most importantly, I was moved by their resilience, both in the diaspora and at home in Liberia.
I always knew that it would take extraordinary courage and commitment of women working together to help change the hurtful narratives and sufferings of our people and country. So, along with a group of Liberian women in the Philadelphia Metro area in Pennsylvania, we formed a women’s organization, the Association of Liberian Women in Pennsylvania (ALWPA). The sole purpose of ALWPA was to bring the world’s attention to the sufferings of the Liberian people as the war raged on in 2003. Under my leadership, we successfully lobbied President George W. Bush to intervene in ending the war. And of course, as you would recall, in August 2003, President Bush gave President Charles Taylor an ultimatum to leave Liberia. The rest is history.
I want to continue the work that I started as Superintendent (Governor) of Nimba County in the senate. This My vision stretches as far as being an advocate for Nimba, ensuring that Nimba gets its fair share of the national wealth of Liberia; that the people of Nimba are ably represented at the tables of national discourse, where policies that affect them are formulated, debated, and decided. Nimba can be a strong national voice again to change the sad narratives of our Country. And with the concerted efforts and support of my people, this charge is a feat that we can achieve.
My many years of professional experiences, both in the public and the private sectors, coupled with my lifelong advocacy, have prepared me to amplify the fight for my people at the senate; where critical national decisions are made. My decision is further based on the desire to lift the image of Nimba again and rekindle its lost socio-political voice at the Senate. There are great sons of Nimba at the Legislature, the conspicuous absence of the voice of our women is one compelling reason for my continual fight. Our women must be heard and heard loud and clear.
“My vision is clear. I want to continue to fight for better, more prosperous, secured and Nimba County. I want to continue to fight for causes that empower our people and Protect the future of our county. I need the political space and tool to effectuate that which has been my lifelong passion. Now is the time. Join me for this issue and all critical issues already mentioned. Change is possible, when we collectively work in honest to meet our common challenges head-on. We must work together to develop Nimba County now! The time is now and together we can! Are you in? Please join me on this road to total recovery!”
— Edith Gongloe-Weh, declaring her candidancy for the 2020 Senatorial By-election
Better Future for Nimba
Change is possible, when we collectively work in honest to meet our common challenges head-on. The clock is ticking. We must work together to develop Liberia now! The time is now and together we can! Are you in? Please join me on this road to total recovery!
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