For me, it's day fourteen of a ten day trip; less than twenty four hours before we were supposed to depart Liberia, Brussels Airlines grounded all flights to and from the country. While we scrambled to find alternate travel routes, Liberia reported its first case of COVID-19. Two days later, the country declared a national emergency, locked down the capital, and closed the airport. It was late Sunday night, after spending hours on the phone with multiple travel agents, when we resigned our efforts to return home and confronted the reality that we will be in Liberia for the duration of this pandemic.
The more time I spend in Liberia, the more I learn more about the truth of “organized chaos”. To an untrained eye, Liberia can seem overwhelmingly hectic, disordered, and lacking of a system. But, as the days go on and I become more and more comfortable with the reality of my situation, I am learning to see the order and systems within seemingly unorganized, utterly chaotic situations. Every day, I am being challenged to think critically while playing a role in Save More Kids. I am being forced to interact with systems I do not know, surrounded by a state of increasing panic and fear. Now, more so than ever, is the best time to apply myself to the world around me, and the challenges I face, to find ways to learn and succeed in these challenging times.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and global and local systems that supply us with food, safety, and health continue to be threatened, I am going to be sharing the lessons I learn, the stories I hear, the things I see, and the ideas I have. For the next few weeks, I will be blogging my experiences here in the theme of crisis and opportunity, because that is exactly what I see. From the moment I wake up to the second I go to sleep, I am experiencing life in the world’s poorest country amidst an unprecedented global pandemic. However, we at Save More Kids are tackling each day with a mindset that every moment of crisis provides a plethora of opportunities. The larger the crisis, the larger the opportunity to change, to create, and to inspire. I hope that providing a different, uplifting perspective, this blog can be a shining light through an otherwise dark hour for humanity. Just remember, every crisis creates a path towards opportunity that is waiting for you to walk down. The first opportunity I saw was to share my story and the beauty I find in Liberia while I am, for lack of a better word, stuck here, to find and then become inspiration, to think creatively about the conditions I am presented with.
-- Tyler Papula