Liberia’s ambassador to the U.S., Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, on Friday personally thanked a fellow countryman for raising money through his Lafayette-based nonprofit to help combat the spread of Ebola in the West African nation.
In a presentation in the office of Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel, Sulunteh also thanked the people of Lafayette for hosting Eric Willise Wowoh. Since 2006 Wowoh has used Lafayette as a home base to export old computers and other American cast-off goods to Liberia to better educate the poor children in the impoverished nation of 4.1 million.
From meager beginnings, Change Agent Network grew through the years to build schools and provide doctors for Liberia, which a decade ago was reeling after its second civil war. Then in March 2014, the deadly Ebola virus broke out in Liberia and spread to other countries across the Ivory Coast of Africa.
“We had some trying times,” Sulunteh said.
Sulunteh said he started hearing about schools being built and medical supplies and personnel arriving on Africa’s west coast, and checked into Wowoh and the Change Agent Network. And, Sulunteh said, he discovered that Lafayette played a big part in the humanitarian effort.
“Thank you for the support you have given Eric,” he said.
Wowoh arrived in Lafayette nine years ago not knowing a soul.
He was plucked from the remnants of a brutal civil war that killed hundreds of thousands and displaced 1 million, including himself. Brought here by the Diocese of Lafayette in 2006, Wowoh quickly noticed the goods Americans threw away, like computers.
“I am here and I’m just blown away by the abundance and the waste,” he said. “I saw a lot of hope in America.”
He said knew he could help Liberians help themselves by providing goods and services and educational opportunities they don’t have.
“The American Dream is a wonderful thing, but not everybody can obtain that,” he said.
Durel said Wowoh and Change Agent Network have provided hope and change to Liberians, and marveled at the resiliency of the country.
“Your story should be told to everybody in America,” Durel said. “We tend to whine a lot.”
Sulunteh and Wowoh were to be honored at a soirée at the Cajundome Convention Center on Friday evening, and Sulunteh is scheduled to open the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm on Saturday.