Please join me wish Maria Brewer - Tenki and Adios
When Maria Brewer Ambassador Nominee to the Republic of Sierra Leone appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on July 26, 2017 her opening remarks recognised her husband Mark and eight-year-old daughter, Arina thanking them for their constant love and support.
Three years on Mark and Arina stood with her as His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio conferred and presented the Commander of the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone Award for "her role in solidifying the bond of history, culture, and friendship between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the United States of America."
Ambassador Maria Brewer has been on the road constantly since arriving in Sierra Leone - embedded into a country which ranks eighth from the bottom among countries on the United Nation's Human Development Index and where one in eight children do not live to age five and a life expectancy of 54 years.
At the Senate Hearing Ambassador Brewer said if confirmed, she will work with Sierra Leonean leaders to ensure that public health remains a top national priority and will support the government to strengthen democratic institutions and combat corruption.
It was no surprise therefore that the Award citation read that she was "honoured for her exemplary role in fostering democracy and good governance, building resilience in national institutions, supporting disaster preparedness and management, enhancing human capital development especially through the education and health sectors, improving energy access, promoting women's empowerment in Sierra Leone."
Ambassador Brewer was first introduced to Sierra Leone during her second tour in Africa in 1999. The positive spirit and resilience of the people of Sierra Leone during the civil war impressed her and she fell in love with the beautiful country.
As I go through the US Embassy Facebook posts during her tenue in office, I am amazed at how she transformed the embassy into not only looking at transparency, accountability, and economic sustainability but also understanding and showcasing the cultural context of Sierra Leone. The Embassy even explored our famous pepper soup stop-over at Moyamba junction.
Ambassador Brewer travelled extensively through Sierra Leone and saw at first hand the challenges and opportunities that exist for deepening Sierra Leone - United State cooperation, and support.
It was during her duty tour that the following milestones were achieved amongst others:
- Sierra Leone made substantial progress in reducing human trafficking, progressed to tier 2 in the 2020 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report
- Sierra Leone established the first Vector-borne Disease Insectary and Laboratory (VDIL) in Makeni
- Substantial improvement in health systems through the USAID supported work of Management Sciences for Health (MSH).
- Sierra Leone passed the 2020 Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Scorecard
Through the Ambassador's Special Self-Help program several community development projects were supported including the reinvigoration of the Ebola ridden village of Dodo.
Ambassador Brewer truly identified with the people including addressing the nation in Krio on COVID-19 prevention early this year. She also went further to demonstrate the washing of hands in a video. Her statement "COVID-19 does not recognize borders, so we must all work together" was apt taking into consideration global sentiments at the time. Such was the dept of her engagement in the country.
Personally, I had the honour of meeting with Ambassador Brewer and discussing the Initiatives for Media Development's Fact Checker program. Ambassador Brewer came across as an Ambassador Extraordinaire, with a deep interest in effective use of social media for development, online protection of children and family values.
Her decoration with the distinguished honour of the Commander of the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone Award is truly deserving. His Excellency the President well and truly spoke for Sierra Leone when he wished Ambassador Brewer well. With such level of diplomatic brilliance, we can foresee Ambassador Brewer returning to Sierra Leone sometime soon, in even higher capacity.
Lonta ka da Bai ! For love of Mama Salone
Yeama Sarah Thompson
Editor in Chief