Special Awards In Pictures

“After a while, people know you are a person of integrity. They say, ‘Don’t try and bribe her as she won’t agree.’ Everyone knows,” Scotland says. On Friday, Scotland was crowned the winner of Integrity Idol Liberia, the country’s third campaign to celebrate honest public officials. She and four other finalists — chosen from among 4,689 nominees — share the conviction that their daily choices and actions, however small, send a message to others. They believe that ordinary people with a vision for improving society can be change-makers. And they have faith that the younger generation will do better.

“In the future, I want to see a generation that will change [Liberians’] minds and attitudes,” Scotland said in an inspiring video that tells her story. “And they will also be an agent of change in their country.”
Such optimism is refreshing in Liberia, whose citizens pay more bribes than most anybody in Africa. And it’s the missing ingredient in too many traditional campaigns to curb corruption. Such efforts too often highlight scoundrels and cheats rather than showcase exemplary public servants.
It’s an easy rut to fall into – especially with mounting evidence of corruption’s toll around the world. Corruption increases inequality and poverty by shutting the poor out of public services, reducing overall social spending, and harming human potential. When poor women can’t afford the bribe to give birth at a hospital, mothers die and babies’ health suffers. When officials pocket foreign aid funds, schools lack books and hospitals lack medicines.
Yet the problem with focusing too much on wrongdoers is that it leads people to believe they are helpless to do anything to solve the problem. That helplessness even infects leaders, as it seemed to do with outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when she declared her own campaign against corruption in Liberia a failure earlier this year. “We could not reap – you cannot reap – in government what has not been instilled in families, schools, churches, mosques, and society in general,” she said during her last national address in January.
That’s why we launched Integrity Idol in Nepal in 2014 and carried it to Liberia and beyond. By inspiring citizens with stories of honest government officials, we’ve started conversations in cafes, schools, offices, and places of worship about what it means to act with integrity, to lead by example, and to serve others. And we’ve provided role models for the next generation. The goal is to name and fame instead of name and shame. To celebrate and elevate.
By raising the stature of the do-gooders, we’ve empowered them to spread their values. For example, Jugbeh Tarpleh Kekula, Liberia’s 2015 Integrity Idol says people now seek out her counsel to solve their problems.
“They come to me to find solutions. They see me as someone to help them to find a way forward,” said Kekula, who was nominated for her courage treating victims of Liberia’s Ebola outbreak. “I have to live even better than what I was doing before.”
She is now working to establish a group of health workers to teach schoolchildren about personal integrity as it relates to health. “We want to help people to understand how best to take care of themselves, how to live their lives,” she says.
This year’s ‘Idols’ are equally inspiring. Alphonso Rancy is a drug-busting policeman whose devotion to the rule of law has put his life in danger. He earns US$90 a month, yet routinely handles drug cases involving tens of thousands of dollars. He doesn’t accept bribes, and he warns others against doing so.
A policeman was kicked off the force for corruption, Rancy told the audience at Friday’s ceremony to announce this year’s winner. “Now he is begging on the street. Corruption is not about getting rich. This is what it can do,” he said.
Then there’s Jefferson Dolo, the procurement official who shuns kickbacks and strives to maximize value for the taxpayer in every contract. “I want to see Liberia as a country where most of the public sector will understand that they actually work for everybody,” Dolo says. “Once we get to that point, Liberia will actually start to progress.”
Liberians are clearly hungry for such inspiration. This year, the number of nominations went up more than 20 percent from last year. And the Idols’ inspiring videos were viewed more than 60,000 on social media. Through ten radio stations and two TV stations, Integrity Idol reached the entire population.
At Friday’s ceremony, the Idols seemed intent on keeping up the momentum from the campaign and spreading their message of integrity.
Yaah Bellah, a state worker in the Ministry of Gender who also runs schools, vowed to focus on the very youngest members of society. “The child is trained from the mother’s lap,” she says. “If you really want to build integrity, it is about training mothers and also pre-grade teachers.”
Scotland agrees that shaping the attitudes of the next generation is key. She proposed that the Idols organize awareness programs and workshops in schools to teach kids how to “live a corruption-free life.”
“Young people have to have a change of mind. They will then make a mockery of those at the top,” she says.

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