While I traveled, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In her travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia, she summed up exactly what my trip to Liberia was all about: You abandon your comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered you in return for what youve given up.
Of course, what you give up is nothing compared to what the people of any third world country go without. I gained a huge appreciation for everything from hot showers to my safety and opportunities as a woman in the US. Things that used to annoy me big time like the buses that always seem to break down while Im commuting on the NJ Turnpike dont anymore. Instead, Im just happy to travel from Point A to Point B without worrying about my safety. Liberian women still live in that fear, as evidenced by billboards all over the Monrovia roadways that protest rape and abuse.
I realized that something greater Elizabeth Gilbert hinted at was a message I couldnt get just from a series of interviews with MacDella in a cushy New York City apartment. I had to actually follow her from orphanage to orphanage, to see her stand up to Liberian adults who wanted to rip her off, to watch her strategize with the principal of a school. I gained so much depth to a story that proves style and substance balance each other out. With all the celebs who travel and adopt kids from Africa, obviously glamour and social conscience can go hand-in-hand but I guess I needed to see it myself, through someone who isnt a tabloid target, to trust the sincerity of it.
Im going to continue to tell MacDellas story, along with Genevieve, who releases her documentary in May. And were going to help MacDella launch a fashion accessory that is handmade by Liberian women. The proceeds will support their incomes. MacDella is rather camera-shy and modest, despite her former modeling. She doesnt come to the media, so I try to bring the media my world to her. Im not a publicist for MCF though. If I can convince you to support MCF, like by getting your best friends together to sponsor a childs education for $500/year, thats terrific. What I do consider myself is a publicist for the power of one woman to make a huge difference in the world. Whether its a private person like MacDella who pursues her mission without fanfare, or a celebrity who very publicly steps out on a humanitarian platform we have inspiration everywhere. Seize it!
MacDella Cooper Foundation
My Liberia Travel Blog