“I am appealing for generous donations toward saving the life of a Peace Heroine.”
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate
This is an urgent appeal to raise an estimated €40,000 to help save the life of Annie Nushann, a personal friend of Plum Village and as Leymah Gbowee describes her, a peace heroine in Africa. In this letter I want to introduce you to Annie herself, her current medical situation and what financial support we need to help get Annie back to good health and allow her to continue as a community leader and social worker for a long time to come.
Annie with Sister Peace and her Liberian co-workers Harper and Christian (formerly General Leopard)
Annie Nushann is now 57. She was already a mother of 10 children when, as a refugee in Ivory Coast, due to the civil war raging in Liberia, she decided to go back to her country to advocate for peace. She became one of the key leaders of the women's peace movement started by Leymah Gbowee. Annie Nushann is an extraordinary woman who a helped bring an end to 15 years of devastating civil war in Liberia. She is deeply valued by her local community inspiring hope and action through her compassionate and fearless leadership. There are many astonishing stories of Annie during the war where she risked her life for the sake of stopping the violence.
Annie and Sister Chan Khong (together with Sr Peace, Sr Tao Nghiem, Cynthia Jurs and Br Phap Lai)
In one instance, she led a group of 400 women to the barracks of General Leopard successfully persuading him to order a cease fire thereby saving her hometown of Totota and 27,000 refugees an horrendous planned bombardment. She continued her peace work after the war leading hundreds of women to march for days to meet dangerous gangs of former child soldiers hiding in the forest. She helped them to return to their families and communities. Since then, as head of the Peace Hut initiative in Liberia, she resolves disputes on a daily basis in her local Peace Hut and visits many local communities to further the Peace Hut model.
In April 2016 a monastic delegation visited Annie’s projects and hometown Totota in Liberia
Annie oversees an orphanage in Totota and with Sr Chan Khong’s help is building a Day Care Centre for babies of working mothers. Plum Village has also funded the construction of a new Peace Hut and well in Margibi County - a project overseen by Annie.
Please read Sister Chan Khong’s letter below and link to Letter from Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee. Please be aware Leymah’s letter was drafted before major surgery was indicated and hence the lower goal amount.
Annie in Plum Village
In the Winter Retreat, 2016, Annie came to PlumVillage for three weeks and appreciated the opportunity we gave her to share her experience with many people but most of all it was the inclusion in the community - the experience of brotherhood and sisterhood - that touched her the most.
Annie enjoyed the mindfulness and meditation practices and saw their potential to help people in Liberia. Sister Chan Khong and Annie made a lovely connection which continues through the funding of various social work projects.
Annie’s medical situation
Unfortunately, Annie fell seriously ill early this year. She was found to have a pleural effusion (fluid accumulation in the chest cavity). Fluid was drained over a period weeks and Annie was treated with a course of antibiotics. Following this Annie’s condition improved significantly. However, the hospital in Ghana could not offer a diagnosis or specialist help. We located a highly recommended pulmonary specialist in Namibia who based on results from the Ghana hospital believes Annie is suffering from chronic empyema. This doctor is willing to receive Annie as his patient and has already shown generosity in engaging with her case. The next stage is to arrange for Annie and her daughter (a trained nurse) to travel to Namibia at the end of January for full diagnosis and treatment. For this stage of chronic empyema, the specialist indicated immediate thoracic surgery is likely to be the recommended course of action to give Annie the best chance to survive. The doctor concerned is German and may not be stationed in Namibia after the 1st three weeks in February.
We need to raise an estimated €40,000 in order to cover the eventuality of major surgery and a long period of post-op care as well as diagnostic, other medical and logistical expenses. The hospital in Namibia is private and requires advanced payments. For this reason and also due to the limited availability of the specialist in February we would need to raise a substantial portion of the money by mid January.
We urgently need your generous support. Annie is a friend of Plum Village and proven force for peace in the world. Annie’s family and community love and treasure her but the poverty level in Liberia is such that there is no possibility for them to afford Annie’s medical situation.
Thank you for your generosity and compassionate support.
With Love and Gratitude,
Sister Peace and Brother Phap Lai, Plum Village, France
Personal Appeal from Sister Chan Khong:
Annie is a dynamic woman, who in the past walked many dozens of kilometres to groups of soldiers, kindly but firmly speaking to them as their mother requesting them to put down there weapons and return to society. She helped many sons begin anew with their families. The work she began escalated into a national operation of reintegration of former child soldiers into their families and communities. Since then, as head of the national Peace Hut initiative, she has resolved many conflicts among villagers with fairness, loving kindness but with firmness and everybody seems satisfied. Annie looks over an orphanage and wants to set up a day care centre for the toddlers of working women in her home town.
Such a precious woman needs to be manifested strongly for a longer time among us . We need your support. Please try your best to support her to be treated properly.
Thank you so much
Sister Chan Khong
Additional Links and Information:
Along with Annie’s Prayer - our main video posted above - you may find of interest the following:
Short videos featuring Annie:
Meet Annie Nushann , UN Women Liberia , UN TV: Peace Huts
Article: UN Women (Beijing Platform for Action) interview, 2015
Film Pray the Devil Back to Hell - Documentary on Leymah Gbowee's Women In Peace movement during the civil war in Liberia. There are many talks given by Leymah available for viewing on youtube including a TED talk and a talk at the Sydney Opera House.
An inspiring story of General Leopard’s visit to Plum Village with Annie facilitating the resulting reconciliation with Gen. Leopard and his former enemy Green back in Liberia. Also features the work of Peace Hut Alliance for Conflict Transformation (PHACT) that Plum Village collaborate with to fund various projects Annie has been supervising including building wells, a new Peace Hut in Margibi, Bong County, as and a Day Care Centre in Totota.
HOW THE FUNDS ARE TO BE HANDLED:
(please also refer to previous update)
Please be aware that for a number of reasons it is not possible to simply send all funds raised directly to Annie Nushann (the stated beneficiary). In order to have Annie get medical diagnosis and support in parallel to funds being raised Sister Chan Khong (President of CBZ - Plum Village and in charge of Love and Understanding Program) gained permission to divert funds temporarily from another project for Annie. $17,000 was therefore sent to a community friend in Botswana (Dr Ava Avalos) who in close communication with myself made arrangements and payments for the flights, as well as accommodation, transport, food and of course the medical expenses in Namibia. I was advised by gofundme that the funds raised may only be transferred to an individual and French National. Therefore a Mr Thomas Legrand has agreed to receive the funds which will then be transferred to Upper Hamlet account of Plum Village, France. Mr Thomas Legrand is a regular visitor and trusted friend of Plum Village living nearby to Upper Hamlet.
In the meantime, we are in a temporary period where the campaign is not been able to receive donations but I this restriction should soon be lifted.
A huge and continued thank you for your incredible support for Annie.
Brother Phap Lai and Sister Peace and Sr Chan Khong
Annie is back in Liberia with her family.
Annie has today (Tuesday 13th March) returned from Namibia to her home in Liberia. Annie has received the most expert and compassionate of care under a renowned pulmonologist in a private hospital in Namibia since her arriving on February 8th. It was however a trying time for Annie and her accompanying daughter Zoe to come to terms with the diagnosis. (As per the previous update it was a disappointment to find Annie had Stage IV lung cancer). It was considered whether Annie should stay in Botswana to undergo chemo therapy but after all the diagnosis was completed it was clearly very important for Annie's spirits to have time back in Liberia with her family while we plan with Annie and her family for the next stage in Annie's medical care.
In the meantime we received very good news:
We are very pleased to announce here that Annie's particular type of cancer has been tested and found to be the kind that will be responsive to immunotherapy which as a treatment option has a far better prognosis than standard chemo therapy with less side effects (if any). It can be administered orally and therefore Annie will be able to stay in Liberia. However, initially Annie will need consultation and some weeks of supervision by an oncologist in case of side effects. This will need to be out of the country (there is no oncology service in Liberia) possibly Ghana or Nigeria. Immunotherapy is of course expensive - 1 month of immunotherapy medicine costing $6-9000 with up to 6 months being required. Therefore we are right now in process of applying for a grant to support the financing of such therapy. However, with the generous donations already received we can at least get Annie started on the treatment.
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