Despite the potential difficulty of returning to the United States in the midst of a pandemic, Harry Kpoh was determined to go to Liberia and help his native country as it struggled to keep its people healthy as COVID-19 escalated.
A delayed return could have cost Harry his job as a Global Logistics and Distribution e-Fulfillment Supervisor with UPS or caused him to miss a mortgage payment. He also ran the risk of contracting the virus in a place with less access to care. In spite of these concerns, Harry still went, “because I have put my hand to the plow, and I am not turning back. These people are without food, medical equipment, and medicines. I have the chance, the means, and the opportunity to reach out to them.”
This was Harry’s second time returning to Liberia to help his people. In 2014, he brought aid and supplies to assist the Liberian government’s efforts in battling the Ebola virus. When the equipment finally arrived, there was only one IV pole in the entire country.
This time, Harry arrived in Liberia during the rainy season. The roads were muddy and treacherous, bridges were washed out, and driving thousands of miles from Monrovia, the county's capital, was dangerous and nearly impossible. The road conditions, however, were mild compared to dealing with the corruption, including checkpoints to collect bribes.
In God’s timing, the supplies—hospital beds, IV poles, medicine, high-protein food, and personal protective equipment—arrived in 40-foot containers, just in time to benefit more than 8,000 people.
A Partnership Like No Other
Harry's unwavering commitment to share the needs of his people caught the attention of UPS and his church, Southeast, and together they brought relief to a distant community and its people who were in a dying need despite the distance and differences of race and culture. UPS, along with others, supplied the equipment and medicine, and Southeast provided the funding for transportation from the United States to Liberia.
As Harry feared, he was stranded in Monrovia for several additional weeks as the borders closed and couldn’t pay his mortgage and other bills. UPS, however, graciously held his position and Southeast paid his mortgage.
UPS also awarded Harry the Jim Casey Community Service Award six months after he returned to Louisville. The honor, given by the company to its employees working in their communities, included a $25,000 donation to a clinic in Grand Kru County in the southwestern part of Liberia that serves some 6,000 people.
We should all want to be intentional, engaging our local communities as well as beyond—reaching out to and being there for one another.
A Brief History of Liberia
Since its founding by freed slaves from the United States in 1847, Liberia has had a rocky history of slavery, tribal division, coups, and a civil war that killed 250,000 to 300,000 of its residents.
In 2014, more than 5,000 Liberians died from the Ebola virus.
Sadly, the country’s infrastructure is nonexistent. Liberia has had no running water or electricity since 1989, and simple necessities for living are unavailable. For instance, the country of more than 5 million people has just five dentists, all located in Monrovia.
Southeast Christian Church is engaged in partnerships with locally-led organizations and Southeast missionaries throughout the world. Click here to learn more.