I cannot get Liberia off my mind.

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Dear More Than Me Family,

I just left Liberia, but cannot and will not let this country leave my mind. Fighting Ebola is fighting an invisible enemy. An enemy that sneaks in and takes anyone in its path. Every day is a new day and I have quickly learned that it is best to be ready for anything and remain agile to meet the daily needs of the community.

The other day, like most days, started by reaching for my cell to make sure that all was ok through the night. Missed call, number unknown. I returned the call and was soon receiving the most unbelievable news: TIME’s Person of the Year! WHAT?!!! I am so unbelievably grateful that the work of all Ebola Fighters is being recognized and am humbled to be amongst those honored and acknowledged.

These past four months fighting Ebola have been the most important of my life. I have always believed that life isn’t worth living if you haven’t found something worth dying for. Even when I had a close call, sitting in a treatment unit for nine hours watching people around me die while waiting for my test results, I knew that no matter the outcome of the results, that I did the right thing. There was no regret.

So here I am, enamored by this beautiful country ravaged by Ebola, and holding onto the promise of a brighter future. If we are going to build a more stable and resilient future, we cannot stand still. We must continue to build stamina and strengthen our most valuable asset: the youth. More than half of Liberia’s population is under the age of 14 and today, none of them are in school. Healthy minds, filled with potential, sit untouched, unmoved and unmotivated.
But I am ready; we are ready, with our arms open wide to embrace Liberia’s future. MTM has exciting plans underway to open the first MTM Boarding School. Here, on a scenic patch of untouched coastline, we will create an environment that broadens our mission to unlock and nurture the unique potential, leadership skills, vision and compassion that our students hold. When one of our students graduates, not only will she decide what comes next for her future, but she will also be prepared to stand strong and carry on in the face of adversity.

I often garner the most attention because I’m in the spotlight, but MTM thrives because of the ambulance attendants, the nurse aids, the teachers and social workers, the administrative assistants. We thrive because thousands of you have said YES to living for something bigger than yourselves. I cannot and never have been able to do this alone. There is no More Than Me without YOU.

It’s the end of the year now, the time when people are the most generous with their money, and I hope you too will consider giving. Donations, small or large, make a huge difference. In 2015 we plan to push past our limitations and DREAM BIG for our girls’ and their future. There is work to be done, and I’m calling you to the front lines with us to make it happen.

Donations are doubled through the end of the year. Help us start 2015 strong!

Dreaming for her,
Katie

Donate now.

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Happy Holidays From More Than Me!

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What a year it’s been! When 2014 started, none of us here at More Than Me knew what it would end up looking like or that we would restructure our mission to fight Ebola. While the Ebola crisis isn’t over, we can say we’ve had a hand in helping stop the spread of the virus with our community-based coalition.

Our ambulance.

We’re also really happy that Pearlina is with family members again after losing her mother, that Esther has found family AND survived Ebola, and of course that Baby Kate continues to bring us smiles. We also couldn’t be more grateful to our staff members, ambulance team, and our supporters who’ve helped us every step of the way!

In the spirit of Black Friday, I took a half day and then went shopping with Esther, baby Katie and Patience. One of my favorite things to do! #Liberia #Survivor

This holiday season, we wish you the best and can’t wait to keep updating you on all our adventures in 2015!

Right now until the end of the year, donations are matched 100%. Will you help us start 2015 strong?

DONATE HERE.

We’re always in this together.

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More Than Me’s “A Brighter Future” Campaign Is Extended

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As we see less and less Ebola cases in Liberia, we are shifting our gears once again as an organization. Instead of focusing all our efforts toward fighting Ebola, we are moving to reintegrating and supporting Ebola survivors and re-opening our academy for our students and those abandoned or orphaned by Ebola.

You see smiles and bush, I see lots of classrooms and children with their hands in the air asking questions instead of selling from buckets in their head. I see a generation of young women rising up to turn the tables for #Liberia. #togetherwecan double your donation this holiday season, we are counting on you!

You’ve read our story for months — how our on-the-ground staff has dealt with Ebola, the ambulance drivers who risk their lives, and much more. We’ve also shared with you the heartbreaking stories of Pearlina and Esther, who after much time, are back with family members. Since schools have been closed in August, we want to open our academy so these kids have somewhere to go and learn again. Education is still a priority deep in our hearts and minds.

That’s why we’ve created our “A Brighter Future” campaign, to raise $200,000 to make the academy a real possibility, as well as help with counseling Ebola survivors and orphans.

You can help and donate to us here. Every donation up to $100,000 is matched at 100% until December 31st! This means you can make a donation into a Christmas gift and write it off for your taxes.

Help us end 2014 on a high note and donate to us today! We couldn’t be more grateful for your continued support.

Happy Holidays, from our family to yours!

Esther survived Ebola, her family didn’t. Josephine lost her mom and uncle. They met through @morethanmeorg and now they’re best friends. It’s pretty incredible. #thingsthatwarmtheheart

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More Than Me Nurse, Iris Martor, Part of TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year Profile

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We’re still so excited and proud that Katie Meyler was named one of TIME Magazine’s Persons of the Year. But, she wasn’t the only one from More Than Me to be named an Ebola Fighter — Iris Martor, our More Than Me Academy nurse, was also profiled in TIME.

Iris’ story is part of “The Nurses” section for TIME’s Persons of the Year. In her own words, Iris admits that she was initially scared to join the fight against Ebola. At one point, her daughter fell ill and she feared it was Ebola, wondering if her work was worth the danger she was putting herself and her family in. But, she knew that it was — saving the lives of her fellow Liberians was definitely worth risking her own. As she told TIME, “If someone from America comes to help my people, then why can’t I?”

Her profile explores Liberia’s initial reaction to Ebola and what that means now in trying to end the spread of the virus. As part of the home healthcare team at More Than Me, Iris explains the precautions she must take when doing a home visit and just how dangerous it can be. Regardless, Iris is happy and proud to do the work she’s doing.

Iris Martor, one of TIME Magazine’s Persons of the Year and the More Than Me Academy’s nurse.

Looking to the future, Iris knows that this not the end of Ebola — nor the end of another possible health crisis. She said, “Policymakers should be able to look at this experience and really plan for the future. Because tomorrow it may not be Ebola, it may be some other things.”

This morning IRC HQ came to our, “I Love West Point” meeting. This is Iris our nurse, Ms. Massoqui our social worker, Cassandra who runs our guest/staff house.

Ebola isn’t over in Liberia — support More Than Me here to get your donation matched from now until December 25th. You can help us re-open our school and continue to provide health care to communities until Ebola is truly gone.

Double Your Holiday Gift

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Katie Meyler named an Ebola Fighter and TIME Person of the Year

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Jackie Nickerson for TIME

NEW JERSEY – Katie Meyler, Founder of More Than Me, joins the Ebola Fighters named  TIME’s Persons of the Year with her work highlighted in the Ebola Caregivers list. Meyler and the Ebola Fighters group join a list that in the past has recognized Winston Churchill, Ghandi, Pope Francis, and President Obama.

“The past few months have been filled with some of the most intense moments of my life, but they’ve also been some of the proudest. I’m honored to be listed next to these truly inspiring people and want to take this time to recognize everyone, on this list or not, who has helped fight Ebola on the front lines,” Meyler said.

This recognition comes out of great tragedy, but is a reminder of the need to continue the fight against Ebola until there are no new cases – and to move forward and rebuild as the epidemic ends. The mission of More Than Me has always been to expand educational opportunities for the most vulnerable girls from the West Point slum in Monrovia; but unable to stand by while their students were at risk, the organization shifted to rapid Ebola response programs in August. As Meyler puts it, “We don’t have an organization if we don’t have students who are alive.”

The tremendous efforts of Iris Martor, More Than Me’s school nurse turned Ebola Fighter, are also mentioned. While working in the community leading trainings to keep staff safe and coaching nurses, Martor’s 8-month-old girl became ill and she feared it was Ebola. When her daughter tested negative and recovered, Martor momentarily questioned the risk she was taking, but ultimately thought, “If someone from America comes to help my people, and someone from Uganda, then why can’t I? This is my country. I should take the first step.”

More Than Me is committed to caring for Monrovia communities that have been deeply affected by this outbreak. More Than Me’s team hopes to reopen their school and resume regular programming in early 2015, but is also committed to long-term support of survivors and the families of those affected by Ebola in their students’ communities. Next year, Meyler hopes to open a boarding school to offer a greater number of children an education including many Ebola orphans. Donations to support More Than Me’s work are matched until December 25th. Learn more here.

The TIME editors’ selection is based on “who best represents the news of the year,” spotlighting leaders who showcase “both a snapshot of where the world is and a picture of where it’s going.”

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More Than Me is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Monrovia, Liberia. For more information, contact Emily Bell, [email protected] or go to morethanme.org.

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Today is #GivingTuesday! How will you make a difference?

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Get your donation MATCHED right now!

Today is #GivingTuesday and More Than Me is raising money to reopen our academy in early 2015 and get our #GirlsBackInSchool. We are working hard to combat Ebola, but we couldn’t forget about our girls’ dreams.

Today only, Microsoft is matching donations up to $500 at 100%, until matching funds run out. That means $500 turns into $1,000! To make sure your donation is matched, donate right at 3pm ET when the second half of matching funds are released!

DONATE NOW

Victoria is from over an hour away. She heard about @morethanmeorg and found her way to the school. She said, “I heard you believe in women’s education!” She told me she graduated high school early and she dreams of going to college but doesn’t have the means. There are so many stories out there like hers.

 

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This Giving Tuesday, Help Get Our #GirlsBackInSchool

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UPDATE: donation link is live. Donate here!

Since Ebola forced us to shut down the More Than Me Academy in July, we quickly responded by expanding our mission to combat the spread of the virus. We set up home healthcare teams, established HOPE 21, a safe haven home where we observe children with Ebola symptoms, bought an ambulance for the West Point community, and have worked tirelessly to help the end Ebola for good.

And off to go home to home and drop off packages for those families who have to be quarantined bc they’ve been in contact with someone suspected of #Ebola.

While we are still fighting Ebola in the community, we are seeing real progress too, and have hope that we’ll be able to reopen the More Than Me Academy in early 2015. But to do that, we need your help.

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday and starting at 9am ET, Microsoft will be matching donations up to $500 at 100%, which means $500 turns into $1000!

Join our event on Facebook to get the link to donate right at 9am ET. It’s time to get our #GirlsBackInSchool.

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Meet The Faces of Our Ambulance Team Who Risk Their Lives Every Day

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When the Ebola crisis came to Liberia, it was clear to us that our mission would change. Since then, we’ve prioritized to fighting Ebola and supporting communities in every way we can, including providing home healthcare teams and purchasing an ambulance to help patients faster.

The ambulance in action.

The ambulance team, made up of fifteen men, with only eleven pictured here, all risk their lives every day to transport Ebola patients and carry out any deceased bodies from homes. They’ve received proper training and know how to carefully protect themselves from the virus — but it still means coming in close contact.

(From left to right): Selvester, Ambulance Attendee; Abass, Ambulance Attendee; Meak, Sprayer.

(From left to right): Joseph, Ambulance Attendee; Emmanuel, Driver; Mohammed, Sprayer.

However, the team isn’t scared of the virus. Ranging in ages from 26 to 56, the fifteen men are all working toward one common goal: getting Ebola out of Liberia and saving lives. Helping transport patients to clinics and hospitals also means helping their country — something they are proud to do.

(From left to right): Varney, Ambulance Attendee; Sekou, Ambulance Attendee; Lawrence, Sprayer.

(From left to right): G. Nock, Sprayer; Abraham, Sprayer.

Their work has touched many in the community — including one young man who lost seven family members to Ebola and almost himself. But thanks to our ambulance and the care of one of our drivers, he’s alive today. The More Than Me team is helping save lives no matter what.

Learn more by watching the video below!

You can donate to More Than Me here.

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An Update On Pearlina: Everything’s Going to be Alright

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In our last update on Pearlina, she had just watched her mother die in an ambulance. With no other family members to be found and no clue as to if she had Ebola, she was quarantined at the More Than Me guest house, now transformed into HOPE 21, for 21 days. Though she had just lost her mother, Pearlina grew to love being at the guest house after she received new clothes, food, and toys to play with. Since then, we’ve monitored her and have some great news — she tested negative for Ebola — twice!

Pearlina’s test results are back and she does not have #ebola !!! We are still using gloves and monitoring her. She’s on day #8 without any signs!

In other news Miss Pearlina is still her sassy self. She’s got mega tude! It’s kind of adorable. No symptoms. We are still watching but it’s been long enough where Pearlina is most likely out of the dog house plus she had a negative result.

When Pearlina’s mother died, the nurse at the scene was Gideon, a volunteer nurse at Redemption Hospital. He worked until curfew (9pm) every day. If there wasn’t a curfew, he’d probably work longer. Now Gideon works for More Than Me on our home health care team, going on daily rounds to provide health care to his neighbors in the community.

Gideon is one of many local heroes who have stepped up to serve their fellow citizens during this outbreak. And for a short while,  he was also a loving foster father to Pearlina. They were both recently featured on a CBS Evening News segment on Ebola orphans in Liberia.

Here’s Pearlina and Gideon, all smiles and hugs:

A screenshot from the CBS Evening News segment on Ebola orphans in Libera.

But another surprise came through for Pearlina — we found her grandmother and her dad and they are now reunited!  They now live together and we are checking in on them regularly to make sure everything is alright. And this won’t be the last you hear of Pearlina — we want her to join our boarding school when it opens!

Pearlina has a living grandmother!! She came out of the woodwork!! She’s very happy and thankful for the care @morethanmeorg gave to Pearl and is still in shock and sadness at the loss of her daughter and Pearlina’s 8 year old brother. #reunited

We’ll keep you updated with more information on how Pearlina is doing with her family and new life! If you’d like to support our efforts to fight Ebola and help build our boarding school, you can donate here.

Pearlina and I have both tested negative, I can’t help but hug her, she lost her mom and she’s 3. I can’t wait for her to be in kindergarten at @morethanmeorg !

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The many steps to an effective Ebola response.

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When More Than Me began, our mission was clear: to get girls from the West Point slum in Liberia off the street and into school by providing them with an education and supplementary services like healthcare and meals to support them for long-term success. Our goal was to ensure that when they graduated, they would decide what came next in their lives.

Our More Than Me Academy did just that last year for 124 girls. But since Ebola came to Liberia in March, it became clear that to ensure opportunity for our students in the future, and to keep them safe, our goals would have to evolve. As a result, we are now working with a coalition of community groups, local leaders, government offices, and NGOs to stop Ebola in Monrovia.

Our ambulance in action.
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

We know that as long as there is Ebola in Liberia, our girls and other vulnerable children are at risk. So we are fighting with everything we are made of to end this epidemic that terrorizes our children and their communities.

This shift has been rooted in our knowledge of the communities in which we work and our network that has been built through years of experience. After meeting with residents and leaders in West Point during its quarantine and assessing urgent needs that were not being met by existing services, More Than Me formed the Community Based Ebola-Free Coalition to fill these gaps. With our partners, the coalition provides an immediate response to life-saving community needs in order to end the Ebola epidemic. This coalition is working aggressively and relentlessly to educate and provide information to the community about Ebola, identify and treat the sick, cremate the dead and help reintegrate survivors — while also supporting children and families of those affected.

A comprehensive chart illustrating how our Community Based Ebola-Free coalition works.

Our coalition home base at the More Than Me Academy serves as the headquarters of this project. Meetings and trainings to keep staff safe are held here, meals are served to field workers, and supplies are stored for long-term inventory. Alongside the Ministry of Health and the Intensive Ebola Outreach Team, we have seven team leaders who coordinate our 240 outreach workers to educate the community of West Point. If any outreach worker comes across a sick individual, the home healthcare team comes in and works to properly diagnose the illness, and then transport any suspected cases via our ambulance to an Ebola Treatment Unit.

Our household communication team is made up of licensed social workers who work directly with patients to provide support and stay connected with their families to provide updates on their health.  If and when Ebola is confirmed in a family, our coalition partner Action Against Hunger (ACF) works to quarantine the household and takes all measures to prevent the spread of Ebola within the community. The Liberian Red Cross provides safe and timely cremation services that treat deaths in the community with dignity, and families that have experienced a loss receive additional counseling and support. Our goal is to ensure that all survivors are reintegrated, and that no families are left alone in coping with Ebola and its aftermath.

Iris our school nurse led the training today (she got her training from UNICEF). We are partnering with the Ministry of Health to make sure everyone in West Point has the facts around #ebola .
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

Since our coalition was set in place, we’ve seen major results that prove our model for fighting against Ebola is working. During the week of September 19th, there were 30 suspected Ebola cases out of 49 ill West Point residents, and 12 residents resisted treatment. Four weeks later, suspected cases fell to 14, with no runaway patients. Our educational outreach teams have reached over 3,472 homes, and counseled over 7,458 residents. Our work was so effective that the Ministry of Health asked us to replicate this model in 5 more Monrovia communities.

Esther, an Ebola survivor whose parents both died of Ebola, receiving care at HOPE21.

Beyond the coalition, we’ve identified the need for children who have been abandoned by Ebola to have a place to go. We are in the process of turning our guest house into HOPE 21 (Housing Observation and Pediatric Evaluation for 21 days), an observation and care center for children under 18 who have been exposed to and orphaned, abandoned, or neglected as a result of Ebola.

Children who have been exposed to Ebola will be taken in under observation for a 21-day quarantine. After 21 days, they will be reintegrated back into their community with the help of family tracing and guardian identification by social workers. While under care, the children will receive medical, educational, and recreational services and have access to emotional support for healing.

“Being a bystander to suffering is not an option.”
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

Our work is far from over, but we’re fully committed to stopping the spread of Ebola and helping the survivors and families impacted. THANK YOU for the support you’ve given us this far – it’s made it possible for us to act quickly and decisively in a fluctuating environment – and to save lives.

We will continue to update you on these projects as they evolve. If you’d like to support our ongoing efforts to end Ebola, please do so here! In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest updates.

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