It was the vision and commitment of my father and those who worked with him, however, that transformed so many child soldiers into community leaders. We need to make that choice again today - to invest in young people, seeing them as leaders of the future.
Oxfam is in Liberia and Sierra Leone for the long haul. We're continuing to work with communities to build understanding of Ebola treatment and how to stay healthy, providing financial support to help families get back on their feet, and helping them guard against infectious diseases by equipping schools and clinics with clean water and sanitation.
When Ebola struck it was our women who were hit first and worst. Women are the traditional caregivers in our communities, so when people got sick, it was the mothers, sisters, aunties and grandmothers who tended them, often paying the ultimate price.
Following my visit, I found that the amazing resilience of the local communities, working alongside truly heroic overseas medical staff and aid workers, had left an overwhelming impression on me. It is thanks to each one of them that Ebola has not reached our shores this time around. But, if the immense poverty in countries like Sierra Leone persists then there is no saying when the next outbreak of Ebola - or something equally horrific - will occur.
When I receive a call that someone has had a terminal diagnosis, or the organist has flu, or what am I going to do about dog fouling in the churchyard - I am, again, reminded that life is not just about facts and figures - it's about experiences, hopes, and concerns.
It's clear that when the outbreak is finally beaten, major challenges remain for people like Stephen and Mohamed, Edwin and Finda. The three West African countries hit by the crisis will still be desperately poor, with weak health and education services and limited opportunities.
Kate Gross, my friend and our founding CEO in AGI, died on Christmas day after a two year battle with cancer. Our last conversation was some weeks before, sitting in the November sun in Cambridge. She knew the chemo was coming to an end and we both knew what came next. But that wasn't what we talked about.
There is a big debate raging in all three countries on the lessons of what went wrong and what worked. We need to make a commitment to help these countries build a better future. This will take international support and solidarity.
As the Ebola crisis in West Africa begins to ease, there is equal cause for hope and fear. The news that infections have slowed to fewer than 100 new cases per week is cause for optimism. But as the fight against Ebola moves into this next stage, there is still so much work to be done.
Does it all boil (or fry) down to the fact that society doesn't look at the bigger picture but instead focuses on paddling one's own self-interested, personal gain canoe at the expense of another? Have things got so bad that corporations don't give two hoots about what happens to others from their own decisions and actions?
The society has an outreach program and has a unique method of alleviating suffering in the world. They believe through channeling positive prayer energy and storing it in batteries, they can then release it around the world when critically needed.
For the most part, the international staff at the Red Cross treatment centre have years of experience behind them. But even so, you cannot neglect the psychological impact of dealing with death on a daily basis.
Nobody can yet comprehend the legacy that the current Ebola outbreak will leave. But that should galvanise us into action - it shows why 2015 must be the year to strengthen health systems and support innovative solutions that secure healthier lives and livelihoods.
Sadly, this is a cultural issue, not a medical one. Women's inferior status is brutally manifested in visibly higher infection rates, and analysts warn the knock-on effects of this deadly virus will also hit female family members hardest.
As such my only New Year's resolution is try to be nicer to people; a task that if undertaken by everyone all at once, might make this tumultuous lump of rock hurtling around an infinite, pointless expanse of space that we call home somewhat more bearable.
Ebola poses a genuine threat to all of us - and it is about time we realised this.