This year has been like no other for me, and arguably for all of us. As 2020 comes to a close, I reflect back to nine months ago as the world closed its borders to contain a new virus that was as unknown as it was deadly. I was traveling to Papua New Guinea for a World Bank project, got as far as Tokyo, and had to turn around and return home. Our team retreated to safety as well, and we all continued our work in safe isolation from each other and our global partners.
Our operations have been affected in every single way, starting with the simple fact that it still isn’t safe for many of us to travel nor to work together in our office suite. While working remotely has never been a challenge for us, the restricted movement impacted our ability to perform work in the field, which very quickly altered how we could support our partners. However, we adapted our priorities and pushed forward with high technology projects that can be done from afar, and over the last few months we’ve adjusted our business plan to respond to market conditions in the international electrification community. We stayed connected over computer screens, but technology has not been able to replace in-person meetings, relationship building, and interactive work sessions that build trust and developer longer-term bonds.
This pandemic has revealed our ability to undertake new challenges. But more importantly it also revealed a longstanding problem. Just a few years ago, the world witnessed how people in West Africa were devastated by Ebola. It was clear then, that people who live in areas without access to electricity suffer greatly from limited access to primary healthcare. Without reliable power local economies are stunted, medical clinics cannot perform essential procedures or refrigerate medicine, and community leaders cannot efficiently increase public awareness on how to stay safe and healthy. This isn’t a new problem. And the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that this problem needs to be addressed more than ever.
Soon after the Ebola crisis was contained, my team talked to community members in Liberia, who reminded us the importance of staying committed to reaching these rural, underserved communities so they can get the healthcare access they need and deserve. And we are. Not just in Liberia, where we helped establish the now self-sufficient Totota Electric Cooperative, but around the globe, where we can partner with funding agencies and local partners.
Despite it all, I am hopeful that 2021 will be brighter. Our partners are committed to the importance of universal access, my colleagues continue to be dedicated and determined to improve lives, and our support from America’s electric cooperatives remain strong. And lastly, multiple COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon.
With that, I would like to extend my deep gratitude and appreciation to all of you for your continued support, and your continued trust in our work – there is much more to do!