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Meet a Woman Who Knows her ‘Potential’

  • Rosetta “Potential” Quoime is the first female driver for the Carter Center’s Access to Justice Project in Liberia, and one of Liberia’s few female professional drivers, period. (Photo: The Carter Center/ S. Umstattd)

  • Potential puts oil in a Carter Center vehicle during a trip to Buchanan, where staff were helping lead a training session for women in Grand Bassa County. (Photo: The Carter Center/ C. Morrissey)

Rosetta Quoime is a woman in a man's world.

The 40-year-old mother of four is the first female driver for the Carter Center's Access to Justice Project in Liberia – and one of the country's few female professional drivers, period.
People often underestimate her, which is perhaps why she's nicknamed herself "Potential."

When she approaches a group of drivers who've gathered to chat while waiting for their passengers to finish a meeting, they often assume she's someone's client – "What’s your driver’s name?" they'll ask. When they hear she's the one behind the wheel, she says, they are sometimes wary. But once they see her skills, they relax.

"I know my job to my fingertips," she says with pride.

Potential is barely 5 feet tall – she often sits on a pillow while driving – and she originally hails from Maryland County, which is a long way from the bustling capital of Monrovia. But she went to driving school when she was just 23. She has worked as a motorbike courier for FedEx and as a driver for the International Rescue Committee. She has driven a giant utility truck for the Ministry of Agriculture, and she drove an ambulance for three months during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

She breaks down professional driving into three categories: defensive, diplomatic, and tactical.

Defensive driving involves protection – keeping a client safe from thieves or kidnappers, for example; diplomatic driving involves shuttling around important people; and tactical driving involves motoring in hard-to-reach places – which in Liberia, usually means driving in mud, particularly during the rainy season.

Potential doesn't have a preference: "I love all of it. I am a driver without borders."

One of the tricks of diplomatic driving, she says, is knowing whether your client prefers you to drive fast or slow. One of the tricks of making it through the mud is to truly know a car before you drive it.

Once, she recalls, she was assigned to drive a Carter Center data clerk through a remote county, where they passed over a bridge that was really just two wooden planks. The data clerk rode with his eyes closed, asking her to let him know when they were across.

"But I wasn’t scared," she says, "because I knew the exact width and weight of the car."

She knows how to repair cars, too, and is as comfortable under the hood as behind the wheel.

Because of her unusual role, she is sometimes asked to speak to groups of women about her story.

"I tell them, 'You have to learn to empower yourself.' I tell them, 'If I can do it, you can, too.'"

Caroline Morrissey is the chief operating officer for the Center’s Access to Justice Project, which works with the government and with traditional leaders to help ensure justice for all Liberians, not just those who can afford it. She says her team is lucky to have Potential.

"Because much of the Carter Center's work in Liberia is focused on improving the lives of women, it's important that we give women an equal chance to be part of our team," she says. "Potential is not only an excellent driver, she is a role model and inspiration to other women."

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