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Learning 36,000 Feet Above Sea Level

By: Meddie Mayanja –Oct 25, 2010 Liberia

Dr. Haddad Wadi of TechKnowLogia fame once described qualities of successful individuals in the 21 century to include the “ability to learn to learn” -literally looking at every experience to learn and grow.

I did just that on my flight from Brussels to Monrovia. I sat beside a non-assuming gentleman and a couple of minutes later we were discussing Liberia’s development strategies and the importance of education. Roland, who works with the Ministry of Finance, retold his moving story of survival during the civil war and of the challenges facing a nation with a huge youth group that must learn new skills to survive a new kind of enemy – poverty.

Roland told me that Liberia’s new Poverty Reduction Strategic Plan sits on four pillars namely; peace and national security, economic revitalization, governance and the rule of the law, and infrastructure and basic services. Education is a key priority and another university has been built. I was impressed by Roland’s mastery of the national vision, issues and challenges when he’s barely in his 30s. He narrated his experience on a visit to Rwanda after genocide and how what he saw in that country strengthened his commitment to diversity and support for Liberia’s development.

From the airport, I engaged my youthful driver to debate what matters to Liberian youth. Without any hesitation, Morrison retorted; education and jobs. He spent the best part of our 1-hour drive to my hotel painting a picture of what his life would have been like if he had gone far enough with his education. With four kids, Morrison reiterated that supporting his kids to get quality education is the biggest motivation for his work.

I am humbled by the commitment of these people for their nation. Excited about what lies ahead.