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.