Through Tragedy, Renewed Commitment
It was in 2009 when GPA founder, Bulleh Bablitch-Norkeh followed her husband, Dr. Frederick Norkeh to Liberia, West Africa where he had taken a position in the cabinet of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. At some point during the next decade, as Bulleh was living among people experiencing a great deal of need, in a country recovering from a devastating civil war and an ebola epidemic, the idea for Girl Power Africa was born. As the couple grew their life together in this country, they raised three daughters, and grew Girl Power Africa into a thriving non-profit organization.
Then, sadly, this past October, Dr. Frederick Norkeh left his wife and daughters behind when he passed away suddenly. Bulleh was actually out delivering school supplies in a neighboring town when she received the call that something was wrong. By the time she reached the hospital, Dr. Norkeh had passed.
Through this darkness, some rays of light got through. All three of the couple’s adult daughters were able to fly to their mother’s side from the United States to Liberia. The unexpected expense of these flights were covered, in part, by generous donations of friends and family and the community around Girl Power Africa.
Community members including students from miles away, walked to be by Bulleh’s side as she mourned her husband for several days and nights, sleeping by her side in the living room, as she could not bear to sleep in her bed.
With all of her daughters by her side, Bulleh and the GPA team were able to complete the school supply deliveries for the 2022-23 school year. The ability to see their mother’s organization in action and in person was energizing to her daughters. They have a renewed sense of connection and interest in participating in the good work that GPA does. Laytee Norkeh has documented the 17 days that she and her sisters were able to spend in Liberia. These posts on the GPA facebook page provide a glimpse into the family’s journey through this time (https://www.facebook.com/layteenorkeh/posts/10220622000252163).
On December 20, Bulleh addressed GPA supporters through a Facebook Live event (recording is available online (https://fb.watch/hYcPOqtBhm). Through this address, she thanks all the wonderful people who lent support and love through this difficult time. She also talks about how the work of GPA will continue. And, if anything, the importance of the work done became even more clear when people came from every corner to show up and support the person who has done so much for them over the years.
Bulleh will continue to guide the work of Girl Power Africa. For at least the near future, she will spend most of the year in the United States. Every year, Bulleh will travel back to Liberia for long stretches, especially in the fall, to oversee the collection and distribution of school supplies.
Through all the pain of saying goodbye to the family patriarch and loved one, the importance of Girl Power Africa has shone through. It is with renewed commitment that Bulleh, her family, the GPA team in Liberia, and the GPA Board members welcome in the new year.