How CARE staff pay it forward: Emmanuel’s story

Emmanuel Wilson at a CARE distribution of hygiene kits in Liberia

On 17 June, Emmanuel started food and hygiene distributions in Liberia as part of CARE’s COVID-19 response, which he is coordinating.

It’s a long way from where he started. Here is his story, in his own words.

My name is Emmanuel Sebeh Wilson. I’m Liberian by nationality and birth. Today, I work for CARE as the procurement manager.

It wasn’t a clear path to get here.

I lived with my aunty as a kid, and she was so cruel to me. Finding food was a big worry for me each day. If I ever got food to eat at home, it was the burnt part leftover.

I was being beaten for making mistakes, or no mistakes.

I wore one short trousers and shirt for months. When my only pair of shoes wore out, I ended up walking bare footed.

I was caught stealing in a public market because I was hungry as I had not eaten the whole day. A man realised my problem and took me to a nearby restaurant and offer me enough food for the day.

I did not have the opportunity to attend school, but I escorted her [his aunt’s] son to school and took him back home, holding his bag.

I realised CARE was feeding students at the school where I was taking my aunt’s son. The programme was called CARE FOOD. In order to survive, I had to register my name in two classes in order to get enough food to eat for the day and enough to take home. That was from 1979 to 1983.

I would have turned into a criminal or beggar to survive had it not been for CARE FOOD.

During the war, I went to Ghana for school. I came back to Liberia in 2008. I saw an advertisement for CARE Liberia for the position of IT officer. I realised it was the same CARE that kept me alive and stopped me from being a criminal or dying from hunger. So I decided to resign from my job and apply to CARE.

I came to CARE to pay back what CARE did for me during my early days.

I see my commitment with CARE today as that which I hold on to. Today, I’m managing the COVID-19 response for all of CARE Liberia. I even provide expertise for our offices in Sierra Leone and Ghana.

In the programming, it’s my turn to actually see the needs of the people, especially in the field. Programming in CARE is exciting. I meet different people with different cultures.

I am so excited about the care we show people in need, especially women, girls and children.

CARE is always about helping the poor transform. I personally consider the heart of CARE as a heart of God. Reaching to the most needy and vulnerable with transformative programming is so exciting for me in CARE.

In the COVID-19 programme, we’re distributing hygiene kits and food assistance. We’re also building handwashing stations.

CARE’s school feeding programme has saved a lot of lives – of which I am a testimony. I say a big thank you to CARE.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.