When Advocacy Meets Humanitarianism -How a Young Activist is Inspiring Hope, Impacting Society

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Oldma Elizabeth Norneh was born 1938 and migrated from Greenville, Sinoe County, to Monrovia around 1944. She is Kru by tribe. Like millions across Liberia, Ma Norneh has not known a better home and a dignified life. Martin K.N. Kollie is a young Liberian exiled activist whose fiery advocacies against bad governance and societal vices often landed him in hot water with the government. Oldma Elizabeh Norneh and Martin K.N. Kollie have never met before, but fate has a funny way of connecting lives. Today, Oldma Elizabeth no longer lives in her dilapidated Newport Street house, but now enjoys the benefit of her completely refurbished residence. All thanks to Martin Kollie, who though exiled, reached out to change Oldma Elizabeth’s destitute situation to one of hope.

Presenting the refurbished house to Oldma Elizabeh Norneh and her spouse Wednesday, on behalf of Martin Kollie and the Voices in Exile (VeX), proxy Varfee J.M. Dukuly said the gesture from the young Liberian activist is purely humanitarian.

“This has nothing to do with politics. Out of compassion, patriotism, and love for humanity, I chose to inspire someone and add dignity to her life. I do not have much. I am not rich. But my pastoral parents taught me to always share my little and identify with those in need,” Mr. Kollie said through his representative, who also presented Madam Norneh with a purse of LD20,000 as small business grant, and six bags of rice as food support for the next six months.

“Like always, I was inspired to help someone. I didn’t like Ma Elizabeth Norneh’s living environment. It was really appalling. So I chose to do something about it. I chose to find a solution,” Kollie stated, saying that he was particularly inspired to help someone in a meaningful way after he received a small contract, and after writing a concept paper for an organization and editing a book.

Mr. Kollie said although Ma Norneh has been a loyal partisan of the CDC since 2004, “what drove and inspired me about her is her steadfast loyalty and consistency”.

“I have been there. I have been through it and I know what it takes. It is a life between poverty and misery. It is a life below degradation. It is a choiceless, powerless, and hopeless life. As an activist, it is not just enough for me to only talk and write about what our people endure in those slum communities on a daily basis. It is not enough for me to only advocate for them and defend their rights. It is not enough for me to only criticize government and public officials for failing to protect public interest. It is not enough for me to only expose public graft (corruption) and blow whistle against bad governance. It is my responsibility to find concrete solutions as well,” Mr. Kollie said.
“So today, I am very humbled to inspire hope and add value to humanity. There is no better life for me than reaching out to help those in need. Therefore, I am donating or turning over these items to Ma Norneh: a refurbished home done both inside and outside including plastering, ceiling around, widows, painting, etc.,” Kollie stated, noting that while he continues to honestly criticize in pursuit of a New Liberia for all, he should always, at all times, form a part of ‘The Solution Equation’.

“I wish to always use my pen to inspire and impact society far more than this. I encourage Ma Norneh to remain loyal or faithful to her party (CDC), conscience, and belief. It is her right. And I do admire her consistency. I appreciate my hard working and honest team in Liberia. My sincere gratitude to Varfee J.M. Dukuly and Francis Mario Boayue for implementing this project in two weeks. Glory be to God. Liberia shall rise one day, and soon too. Prosperity, equality, and justice for every Liberian shall overflow,” Mr. Kollie said.

Receiving the items, Madam Norneh said, “this boy, I don’t know him. I don’t know his pa, I don’t know his ma. God passed through him. I don’t have anything to say. The only thing I have to say is, I tell God thank you. I pray God will give him long life, because I am surprised by what he did. I wasn’t expecting it.”

CDC Reacts

Immediately after KMTV posted a podcast of the donation ceremony, someone, apparently from the ruling CDC, posted a counter-podcast showing Madam Elizabeth Norneh disowning the KMTV podcast and Martin Kollie’s humanitarian assistance as lies.

“I saw some kind of report on Facebook today. Somebody said they built a house for you,” the interviewer asked Madam Norneh… It looks like this man has spoiled your name, what are you going to do?” the interviewer prodded Madam Norneh in an attempt for her to deny that she received assistance from Martin Kollie.

“I will sue this person Kollie,” Madam Norneh retorted, after continuous prodding from the interviewer.

Meanwhile, the public have already started to express anger over the manner in which Madam Elizabeth Norneh was humiliated into denying something she sincerely welcomed. Some say, while the ruling party has failed dismally to better the living conditions of Liberians, it is now using scare tactics to stop others from helping the destitute.

Strangely, the reactionary podcast from the apparent CDC sympathizer, which had tagged other prominent government officials, was brought down from the social media page of one state actor.

It can be recalled, Madam Elizabeth Norneh rose to local fame in 2017 when she was photobombed while kneeling and kissing a billboard of Mr. George M. Weah. That photo is said to have impacted the decisions of a lot of ordinary citizens to cast their lot behind the former soccer icon during the 2017 presidential and general elections, as they believed Mr. Weah would have delivered them from the desert of poverty to the oasis of plenty.

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