How our health program is growing
Healthcare is scarce in Liberia.
How scarce? The populations of the city of Los Angeles and the country of Liberia are roughly the same size, around 4 million. Los Angeles has about 30,000 physicians, Liberia 300.
Imagine caring for a chronically ill or disabled child in such a place.
RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA understands these challenges. We support the most vulnerable children in the Kolahun community, a rural village in northern Liberia. Many of these children have significant health needs. So, we have a full-time registered nurse, Gladys Zarbay, RN, BSN, MPH, on staff to monitor their well-being. Gladys, as our health and nutrition coordinator, is based full-time in Kolahun.
Gladys' busy days are filled with making home visits, assessing, counseling and comforting, advocating for and making sure that our Kolahun Kids receive the health care they need. And she can still have time to play a game with one of the kids. Good luck with that, Gladys — He's a champion!
Leaders and other respected members in the Kolahun community identify which children and households need support, based on our enrollment criteria: orphaned, Ebola survivors, chronically ill or disabled.
An integral part of our health program is home visits, which allows us to assess the children’s physical and emotional health, as well as an opportunity to consider their home environment and their relationship with their caregiver. Psychosocial support is offered when needed as well as referrals to the local hospital.
A core component of our model is coordination with local systems. We don’t build separate clinics; rather we find ways to strengthen the existing healthcare system. We coordinate care with the hospital and ensure that follow-up appointments are made and that medications are properly administered.
We are also growing our efforts to offer preventive health education within the community. Last year, at the request of education authorities in Kolahun, RESTORE HOPE organized a workshop for young adults interested in teaching sexual and reproductive health sessions at local schools. Liberia has a very high teen pregnancy rate. By the age of 19, three of every five girls are pregnant (UNFPA).
We want to see these girls, along with all the vulnerable children in Kolahun, become healthy, productive leaders of change. These children, whose lives have been greatly challenged by adversity, deserve the opportunity to thrive.
sharing hope - what does hope look like?
What does hope look like? To get an idea, take a look at the children in Kolahun, a small village in northern Liberia.
Children like Helen, for example. She is a high school junior, president of the student body at School of Faith and mother of a 20-month-old son. Helen's father died suddenly of a heart attack six years ago. Her mother has suffered from severe depression ever since.
Helen plans on becoming a doctor. This summer, she marched in the U.N. World Hand Washing Day parade in Kolahun.
After the parade, Helen attended a panel discussion on hand-washing at Kolahun Hospital. When a U.N. representative asked if anyone had comments or questions, Helen stood up and spoke eloquently to a crowd of about fifty professionals on the importance of hygienic practices.
Helen is curious and thirsty for knowledge. She has inspired her friends to pursue academic excellence. One evening, a few days after the parade, Helen and another RESTORE HOPE beneficiary, Hassan (who is also determined to become a doctor), came to the RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA office just as the two doctors at the local hospital, Dr. Raphael and Dr. Christian, arrived.
Along with James, the RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA Field Coordinator, we all sat outside under the mango tree and talked until the sun went down. Dr. Raphael recounted his experience at Foya Hospital (about 11 miles from Kolahun) in early 2014 when he began to see the first Ebola cases. He arranged for the first blood tests to confirm Ebola in suspected cases.
Helen and Hassan listened intently. Dr. Raphael encouraged them, asking thought-provoking, scientific questions. The two young people were ready with possible answers. For example, they knew about ribonucleic acid.
Soon the air was filled with the language of antigens and antibodies. And as the sky turned from blue to orange to dusky purple, and swifts fluttered and soared above, you could almost feel the hope riding on the breeze that touched our faces.
Lives were changing because of courage & hope. Thanks be to God.
WOMEN’S WEAVING COOPERATIVE supports emerging Female Entrepreneurs
RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA Begins a New Chapter with Reading Campaign
RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA is currently working on two fronts to address the issue of illiteracy in Kolahun.
Construction begins on the VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
Many of you are seeing our new logo for the first time. Perhaps you’re wondering what inspired the image we chose.
With so many daily activities occurring under the mango tree in Liberia, it would scarcely be an exaggeration to call it the Tree of Life.
The tree helps feed the village. The fruit of the mango – Liberians call it a “plum” – is plentiful.
Its shade provides children a place to play or read a new book, while adults often gather there for literacy classes. Or you might find the Kolahun Women’s Weaving Cooperative at work on beautiful Country Cloth or mentoring new weavers.
Meals are often cooked there, and the community gathers to share. Or the sheltering branches sometimes serve as a morning clinic where parents bring children for check-ups. Neighborhood chickens scratch out subsistence among its fallen leaves.
At daybreak, Action, the Yoga Dog, practices his morning routine, downward facing dog, ready to nap in the midday sun, replacing the ever-vigilant lion-dog who stood watch under the tree all night, keeping us safe from every terror, even the imagined ones.
Some nights, women gather there to mourn the death of a child, their wailing songs of grief filling the valley. Some terrors seem unavoidable.
Laughter, songs, dance, tears – the mango tree bears witness
to the full cycle of life of the village.
to the full cycle of life of the village.