Before blogging any further, I must introduce you to the incredible woman who is taking me to Liberia: MacDella Cooper. We met via a professor at The College of New Jersey, our alma mater. MacDella is a 30-year-old Liberian refugee who escaped the civil war in Liberia when she was 13 (quick Wikipedia history lesson here). She fled to New Jersey, and then after graduating, pursued a career in the New York City fashion industry, starting at Ralph Lauren.
Women of style are so easy to come by in New York City. You’ve got to look a little harder for stylish women of substance. MacDella is one of them. She is so graceful and genuine, whether she’s mingling with New York’s wealthiest or Liberia’s poorest. While these two worlds are polar opposites, they are strikingly complementary. New Yorkers often have wealth but not happiness; the Liberians may have happiness despite not having wealth.
In establishing the MacDella Cooper Foundation, MacDella gives Americans with the means a chance to sponsor a child’s education, or donate school supplies and personal hygiene items. She raises money here in New York, then travels to Liberia to put the funds to work in renovating orphanages, enrolling children in school, and building a community center.
So why am I traveling to Liberia when I could just go to Toys ‘R Us and buy a bunch of dolls to ship to Liberia for the Christmas party? (which is still a worthy and needed contribution, btw). Because not only do I work in the heart of the media world, but I’m practically sitting on its heartbeat, aka digital media. Every day, I learn about the power and potential of the Internet from the best web editors in the magazine industry. I want to use this training to experiment with photos and videos on my blog. I can’t cure Liberia’s problems, but I can connect people in New York with the kids, teens, and women in Liberia. I want to see what that domino effect can achieve.
Why do you hear about Oprah’s Christmas party in South Africa but not MacDella’s for 600+ orphans? (Granted, Oprah’s publicity is much deserved — she treated 50,000 kids!) It’s all because of media. The media hasn’t discovered MacDella…yet. That’s what I’m here to change, because MacDella’s one voice captures those of millions of Liberian children and women.