It is an honor for Perlier to support HSN Cares and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. My wife, Katie and I are very passionate about supporting causes that impact women and girls. We believe in the power of women to make this world a better place and want to do whatever we can to support their ability to do so. The mission of HSN Cares and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF both perfectly align with another organization that I have been involved with for quite some time and I would love to share why I am so passionate about giving back.
Katie and I have been working with More Than Me, an organization that is on a mission to help rebuild the education system in Liberia, West Africa. We became involved because of the inspiring work and dedication of the organization’s founder, Katie Meyler.
We feel lucky to have been involved since the beginning and have the honor of serving on the Board of Directors. Like many that first meet Katie Meyler, we were inspired by her unbridled passion to live for something bigger than ourselves and were quickly drawn in by her determination to bring access to education to the most vulnerable children on the planet. What started with a BBQ fundraiser in our backyard, where we were able to raise enough money to put 100 girls in school, quickly grew into a full-fledged organization. Fifteen years of civil war left Liberia with a lack of teachers so we knew that in order to provide our students with the best access to education we would have to build our own school. In 2012 we opened the doors to the first More Than Me Academy where 150 students were enrolled that first year.
When the Ebola outbreak occurred and schools were ordered to close, we quickly shifted our mission from education to fighting to keep our students, their families and community safe. Our school and other buildings were transformed into medical supplies distribution centers, housing for Ebola orphans, and centers of command. We reached out to the community and asked them their greatest needs and by doing so found out that they desperately needed ambulances to help transport the patients infected with Ebola to treatments units. We bought three ambulances and by doing so we were able to reduce the wait time from four days to 30 minutes likely saving the lives of over 30,000 people. Due to our efforts, Katie Meyler, our school nurse, and MTM were recognized as the 2014 Time’s Person of the Year.
But no organization can take on big issues like Ebola alone. More Than Me and UNICEF have been informal partners in the fight to improve children’s lives in Liberia since More Than Me started in 2009. Last year, we partnered in their #ENDVIOLENCE campaign, including collaboration on this viral video. UNICEF also provided Ebola awareness training for our students and staff in June and July 2014. They also provided us with Ebola communication materials while we were fighting the disease on the front lines.
Today we have shifted our focus back to rebuilding the education system and are working with the Ministry of Education to open 30 more schools throughout the country. There we will introduce and test technology-based curriculums, blended-learning programs, and provide a suite of wrap-around services to treat the whole child. Our goal is to create a Liberia where other countries will want to come and learn from our model.
I love personally knowing our students and their families and I am constantly inspired by their strength. Our students have been some of my greatest teachers. From them I have gained a much deeper understanding about true happiness and their stories of resilience, determination and strength drive me to want to work harder so that we can continue to provide them with an environment where they can thrive. When I am with the students at the More Than Me Academy, I feel like I am in the presence of greatness and believe wholeheartedly that they will soon become the future leaders of Liberia. I am lucky to know each and every one of them.
How do you find a way to give back to others?