Ebola A Special Report from Liberia

Broadcast on September 15, 2014
With Harper M. Karmon & Christian Wolo Bethelson & Lama Cynthia Jurs

The Ebola outbreak has claimed over 2,400 lives in West Africa. Like Sierra Leone, Liberia is in the heart of the Ebola crisis and is a country still recovering from its bloody civil war and that it is routinely listed near the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. We will hear front-line reports from Harper Karmon and Christian Betheleson who are using radio and mindfulness meditation to help people deal with the harsh realities of the outbreak. Bethelson, a former army general, had attended a retreat at Thich Nhat Hahn's Plum Village and is finding culturally appropriate ways to introduce the meditation techniques. We also will hear from Cynthia Jurs, the founder of the Alliance for the Earth, who is supporting the work of Harper and Bethelson.  

Harper M. Karmon

Peacebuilder, General Manager of the Peace Hut Alliance for Conflict Transformation with Alliance for the Earth
Harper M. Karmon, is a community organizer, social worker, peacebuilder and the General Manager of the Peace Hut Alliance for Conflict Transformation with Alliance for the Earth – which has (so far) constructed three peace huts in three counties in Liberia. He travels all over Liberia mobilizing communities in peacebuilding and organizes trainings to empower women, and teach former combatants the skills of conflict resolution inside the Peace Huts. During the war, Harper was a proud supporter of the Liberian Women’s Mass Action for Peace (headed by Nobel peace prize winner, Leymah Gbowee) and stood firmly with them, praying and fasting for the country and demanding a cease fire and mediation between the warring factions. As a filmmaker, he documented their activities in the sun and rain, day after day.   He is a trained nurse with an interest in the environment who majored in Forestry Management at the University of Liberia. He became a trainer in peace building, conflict transformation and reconciliation for the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (THRP) where he also served as head of the social workers on a special psychosocial intervention project for Ivorian Refugees in Nimba County from 2011-2012. He lives in Monrovia and is a father of four.  

Christian Wolo Bethelson

Field Coordinator for Alliance for the Earth, Mindfulness Teacher
Christian Wolo Bethelson spent 27 years in the Liberian National Army, was trained in Libya, Israel and Romania and served as one of President Samuel Doe’s personal bodyguards. When Charles Taylor took power, Bethelson was imprisoned and tortured. He escaped and joined the rebel forces, fighting under the name, General Leopard.  After the 14-year civil war ended, he was on his way to offer his mercenary services in the Ivory Coast when he happened to meet the peace building group, Everyday Gandhis, who invited him to join them instead.    He 2010 he became the Field Coordinator for Alliance for the Earth where he has done community outreach and helped to oversee a grassroots Peace Hut building program. Bethelson has trained in mindfulness mediation in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and now teaches mindfulness to other ex-combatants inside the Peace Huts.    He speaks 12 languages and enjoys drumming, dancing and singing. He and his wife Rebecca have 3 children and live in Monrovia, Liberia.   

Lama Cynthia Jurs

Guiding Teacher, Gaia Mandala Sangha, Founder of Alliance for the Earth

Cynthia Jurs, is a dharmacharya in the Order of Interbeing of Thich Nhat Hanh and a lama in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. She directs the international Gaia Mandala Sangha from her home in Santa Fe, NM. Also the founder of Alliance for the Earth, a nonprofit dedicated to global healing and collective awakening, Cynthia's life was transformed when she met a 106 year old lama living in a cave and asked him, "What can we do to bring healing and protection to the Earth?" Seventy Earth Treasure Vases and 30 years later, in collaboration with indigenous elders, young activists and regular folks around the world, a global healing mandala for the Earth has been established. Through her practice of sacred activism she has witnessed creative solutions to the planet's problems arise in response to all the prayers that have been made. In 2020, Cynthia began to transmit a new practice of Tara Gaia to assist others in forming a  spiritual connection to the Earth. Her book, Summoned by the Earth is forthcoming.