Madam Faith Akovi Cooper knows how to summarize her inspiring life story with a stark contrast. She remembers being a refugee in the United States just over two decades ago, but is “now head of one of the biggest NGOs and humanitarian organizations in Liberia”.
She is one of the most inspiring African women who gained experience and knowledge in the United States and returned to West Africa to help.
Madam Cooper is a global health practitioner who currently lives in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, where she serves as Country Director for the International Rescue Committee.
Madam Cooper and her family moved to the United States in 1993 after a violent civil war in Liberia left many people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Today, Madam Cooper says she considers the U.S. a great equalizer.
“In other words, it is the land of opportunity for those who are determined to achieve their dreams. I am what I am today because the U.S gave me the opportunity to resettle,” she says.
After obtaining two college degrees, Cooper remained in the US where she gained more experience and knowledge dealing with the consortium to eliminate health disparities, particularly for people of color.
During the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, Cooper made the selfless decision to move to Ghana as Regional Advisor and Program Lead for the West Africa Disaster Preparedness initiative.
“I was part of the original team that developed the program concept and led the implementation of it at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Ghana. We trained, 1,500 disaster professionals from 15 West and Central African countries,” Cooper says.
However, due to funding the program was unable to continue.
Cooper then moved to Liberia as Country Director of Africare before taking on the current position as head of IRC.
“I have a staff of 110 people spread across three offices in the country. We have programs in the areas of Health, Women’s Child Protection and Empowerment as well as Economic Wellbeing,” she says.
“My job is exciting and truly is a dream come true. Imagine, once a refugee and now head of one of the biggest NGOs and humanitarian organizations in Liberia.”
Cooper’s advice to the youth is to always dream big and explore opportunities.
“I say to every youth, regardless whatever challenges and situation might be, use it as a stepping stone to achieve greater things. Always remember that you have something to offer but you must find your purpose driven life.”
Madam Cooper is an iconic role model who gives younger generations hope and motivation.