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Mmonbeydo Harrell of Monrovia, Liberia is no stranger to difficulty. Growing up as a refugee during civil war, she knows what deprivation means. As a survivor of sexual abuse, she knows how it feels to be broken. She witnessed people being killed because of their ethnicity. She has seen death from malaria and ebola. These challenges have been part of her life, but they haven’t claimed her as a victim. They have given her the fortitude to rise above them. They have encouraged her to support and help others. Because of her experiences, she has become a source of strength for the women in her community who have gravitated towards her for help with their problems.

It is because of these experiences and challenges that she has been led to law school and to organizing a non-profit (Organization for Women and Children) where she continues to find solutions for women in her community. As a result, she has rescued girls from gang rapes and children from abusive homes. It was her own hard times that made it possible for her to reach out and help others. It was also one of the reasons she was drawn to Big Ocean and to start her own cottage.

The other women of the Fiamah, Liberia Cottage of Big Ocean have also witnessed their share of hard times. This past year, Mmonbeydo was holding a Big Ocean cottage meeting when their discussion took a turn because they received word that one of the children in the community had died of malaria. In her own words:

“We couldn’t continue that meeting anymore. Instead, we talked about the recent wave of malaria in the community. My son, daughter, and husband were all down with malaria. I was currently on medications. Other ladies too narrated their recent bouts with the disease. Others said it was the change of weather even though I knew the cause was the swamp we lived in. We had to keep it cleaner. I wanted them to come to a solution.”

As Big Ocean Women, we recognize that we have the power to create change.  We remain positive and look for solutions and then we act. Under Mmonbeydo’s leadership, the Fiamah cottage decided to take action by sending a delegation of their women to the community nurse, who was considering leaving the area because business was poor,encouraging her to stay.

Our hope is that as more women gather to Big Ocean cottages and learn our philosophy, they will stand and serve in their homes and communities, becoming then a  greater force for good in the world. It is here in our local cottages that we can learn from women like Mmonbeydo how to take the challenges from life and use them to propel us forward to enact change in the world.