Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Carolyn Miller's Story

Below is a letter from a wonderful woman named Carolyn Miller. Karrus Hayes, who founded the school we are going to build, was able to get an education in Liberia as a result of her efforts. The school is named after her. Here's her story:

Dear Cori,

So nice to hear from you....with similar interests for helping others, esp. Liberians I know we would have a lot in common.

I went to Liberia as a missionary with the Lutheran Church in America (now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America ... E.L.C.A.) in l966. Phebe Hospital located in central Liberia was then less than a year old. And they had even delayed setting up the O.B. unit and clinics until after I got there. I came fresh from Midwifery School in Edinburgh, Scotland .... so obviously did not have all the answers at all. (There were three of us all going to Liberia studying there at the
time .... we indeed became sisters of the heart.) I was the only one that went to Phebe at the time. I went to teach at Cuttington University College....B.S.N. students. The college is kinda right across the road from Phebe Hospital. I taught there 12 years and was Chairman of theNursing Program for 7 of those years Our goal was to educate nurses who could eventually take over key positions in Liberia...including teaching. A lot of our graduates went on for their Master's in the States and did come back and fill vital roles....One was the Minister of Health. Their accomplishments were my greatest achievements.

Right away we realized we needed midwives if we were going to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbitity. So I started a class for Certified Midwives...originally some were 6th grade graduates only...but soon all were 12 grade graduates. We had no textbooks at first plus the graduates would have had a difficult time reading I wrote up simplified versions of what they needed to know. That started in 1967. It is still going...but was interrupted because of the war.

In 1980 I started a school for Nurse Midwives.....we realized that if we did not somehow prepare Midwifery educators midwifery school could not continue in Liberia. So I devised a program to teach Midwifery skillls and also teaching skills. I think it was my greatest professional achievement.....

We never knew in advance that a war would come and destroy the country and all the hospitals and schools etc....but those that lived carried on nursing and midwifery beyond which we could have everanticipated. Their stories are tremendous. Sometimes people have said to me, "Isn't it too bad all your work is now destroyed etc...." Really my work lived on in those that I was privileged to teach.

Now, I can believe that Karrus and others there in Ghana (and in Liberia)...hardly know that part of my life...even though I lived it for a period covering 24 years. But, I lived right in the path so to speak of people heading for the school (Phebe Community Lutheran School)....I taught Sunday School....I became involved in lots of people's the nearby towns and at the nearby Leprosy Center....anyway, I got to know a lot of people...and heard their stories and their problems...and really this is the person they know mostly.

In 1990 I already had my ticket to leave Liberia (something that was very hard for me) when the war started...It was especially then hard to leave. But, I wanted desperately to be in Iowa and spend quality time with my mom. And every school including the Sunday School was in the hands of qualified Liberian people. It was O.K. to leave.

So then in the almost 15 years since I was there I have received literally thousands of letters....many I still know very well....and now many I do not know personallly but I knew their friend or sister etc. Of course all need financial help....and we know that is true, but I can't help all...but really God has helped me a lot with this one. But, I have made it my goal so far to answer every letter with a note, a Bible track (everyone lost their Bibles so all were asking for Bibles which I could not send) and words of comfort or advise etc. One of my themes has been encouraging others to Spread Kindness to others. It is hard to get mail to Liberia since there is no direct this is harder than one thinks. Lots of Liberians have access to E-Mail and that has been good.

I went back in l998 for a was a wonderful visit but also filled with sadness for those who had died in the war up to that time. Our hospital was destoyed some in l994 and again in 2003...The schools were destroyed also. But Praise be to God...they are finally back in the hospital as of Feb. 14th of this year. And I now have the Annual Report
for 2004 in my hand. Since l987 we have sent medical supplies to it is close to 60 tons. Our last shipment left on May 9th....we had 72 boxes (5000 lbs.) of supplies included. That has kept me associated with the peopleand the hospital...and E-Mail keeps us very much in touch. So that is bits and pieces of my story.....I have been truly blessed
to have had this association with the Liberian people.

Cori, this is probably more than you wanted to know...I would be happy to answer any question if I can. My story is not so much my story...but the story of all the Liberian people who came into my life...and it is their story really.

It would be good for me to hear your story as well. God Bless.

Peace, Carolyn Miller


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