Now a widow, Martha gathered her three children – Paulina, Lohkoah, and Dorwoan - and continued her desperate journey to flee the fighting. Despite her overwhelming loss, she shielded the children and fled to the neighboring Ivory Coast – 395 kms (245 miles) away. There at the Danané refugee camp, Martha nurtured and comforted her kids and created a new life for them. In the camp Martha became a force for good, supporting and encouraging other widows. She provided arriving refugees food, clothing and shelter. She became known as “Aunty Martha” to hundreds who experienced her generosity and directed others to her for help. She had a philosophy of working with her hands and not asking for handouts because of her deep trust in God.
Martha and her family lived eight years in the Danané refugee camp. And then – on November 13, 1998 – things changed for the better. Martha and her children moved out of the refugee camp and across the world to Moose Jaw, in the Province of Saskatchewan in Canada. There they started a new life in an area very different – and MUCH colder! - from the warm tropical coast of West Africa. She began working and slowly became independent. A year later Martha and the family moved to Toronto where she bought a home and worked two low-wage jobs as a Personal Support Worker (PSW), caring for the elderly to make ends meet. Through all the moves, Martha has been followed by the many people whose lives she touched along the way -eager to hear of her new life in Canada.
Then in the summer of 2018, Martha received shocking news from her doctors. Her years of working as a PSW had severely injured her back. She would have to stop working due to an inoperable condition she developed in her spine, leading to intermittent paralysis and severe pain in her back and legs.
Those of us who have benefited from Martha’s compassion and care are now motivated to return the kindness she so generously bestowed upon us. We are deeply moved to come alongside her and support her during her time of need. We are reaching out to all the family, friends and well-wishers that this amazing woman has touched over the years and those reading this inspiring story to join us in raising enough funds to help Martha pay her medical bills and expenses for one year, as she focuses on her recovery. With no work, she needs help urgently! Martha remains one of those strong women whose eyes have seen death and the ills of war in Africa but whose resolve, resilience and orientation towards kindness and forgiveness is indelible in the hearts of many she’s impacted. Despite all that Martha has endured, she is optimistic about her condition. She still hopes to impact her community and her native Liberia where she wants to someday return to encourage and share her infectious love with other women and girls that have walked in her shoes. You! We can help her realize this vision today.
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- Kedia Paye
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Fundraising team: The Martha Bleah Team (6)
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