Profile: Kate E. Brubacher: A People Find Hope Again

Kate E. Brubacher ’07 M.A.R., ’10 Law, president and founder of Liberian Widows Initiative, Inc. based in Monrovia, Liberia (

Desperate conditions:

“The Liberian Widows initiative (LWI) provides capital, training, and support to survivors of Liberia’s civil war. We are working with a population in desperate need. LWI uses microfinance as a point of engagement through which women and families gain access to business lending as well as debt forgiveness, business advice, and now free literacy and health training. We combine efficient business principles with compassion. I am confident that the innovative combinations of charity and market-oriented approaches will have greater success than traditional programs that were either/or.”

Painful dissonance:

“Those of us living in comfort will never be able to understand the day-to-day reality of the families with whom LWI works. Likewise, these families cannot understand our world of excess. This dissonance is painful. In six years of working with Liberians, I have accepted that I cannot comprehend the disparity between our worlds. Theories will never make the injustice coherent. The ability to persevere through the senselessness and inevitable disappointments of this work flows out of love of God and God’s people; it is sustained by the voice deep within one’s heart and conscience that acknowledges both suffering and our obligation to lessen it. For me, this work is both wound and salve. It has made me reckon with the broken nature of our world. But even in our fallen state, we can continually turn towards God as we struggle to realign ourselves with God’s goodness and peace.”

National nightmare and recovery:

“Liberia is emerging from a desperate period. From 1989 to 2004, the country endured two civil wars that crippled its economy, claimed more than 250,000 lives (more than one out of every sixteen liberians), and displaced a million others into refugee camps. in 2005, the nation saw its first sign of progress in a generation: Liberia held its first free and fair presidential election since 1989 and elected the first female head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Since her election, Liberia has received increasing international and U.S. support. More importantly, there is a renewed spirit of hope. Much work remains: last year, Liberia ranked 178 out of 181 countries in GDP per capita. More than 85 percent of Liberians live on less than $1.25 a day. But Liberians are eager to rebuild their country. LWI is part of that process.”