Women on Top: Christal-Dionne Da-Thong

“Women on Top” is an interview series with women that are living life at the top–literally or figuratively–in their chosen field. Remember, it’s not always about having the highest position or largest paycheck; it’s about getting the most out of the position you are in.

  Christal with a doctor who contracted and survived Ebola.

Christal with a doctor who contracted and survived Ebola.

While most of the world was still reeling with the news about  the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, ActionAid Liberia communications officer Christal-Dionne Da-Thong was at ground zero in Liberia spreading hope and emotional healing to those who need it most. She continues to implement her creativity and motivational skills to bear witness to the current status of Ebola in Liberia.

When you were 10, what did you think you would grow up to be? 

When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be several things including a doctor, a lawyer and a famous singer. I imagined that I would definitely be a doctor, first and foremost, though. I wanted to be able to make people feel better.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help people we support by sharing their stories to bring them more help. I also find it very rewarding when people who need help and support are able to access these through our work because of the publicity I have helped the organization generate.

The most difficult?

During the Ebola crisis in Liberia, I spoke to an Ebola survivor who had lost her four grown children to the disease. As she described the horror of losing her family and being left alone, I felt helpless because in that moment, I got a glimpse of the magnitude of her pain and I couldn't do anything to take it away. Instances like these occur very often. Not being able to relieve people's pain is the most difficult part of my job.

  Christal (at right) with some of her ActionAid Liberia coworkers.

Christal (at right) with some of her ActionAid Liberia coworkers.

What makes you excited to go to work every day?

The work I do is exhausting, but every day I am motivated by the fact that helping people share their experiences can bring them help and also help others who are going through similar situations. At the height of the Ebola outbreak, there was a sense of hopelessness and despair across the nation. The organization I work for, ActionAid Liberia, partnered with a collective of local musicians to produce a song aimed at inspiring hope and educating people about Ebola. The song served as a rallying call for people to not give up and do all they can to fight the outbreak.

What’s a typical workday for you look like? 

A typical workday for me includes travelling to projects sites to document the activities carried out by the organization I work for. I would observe and photograph the activities and interview the participants to understand how they are benefiting from the work that we are doing.