News Release, Monrovia
A delegation representing a United States-based Liberian organization, the Federation of Liberian Mandingoes Association of the United States (FELMAUSA), Friday paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia.
The 20-member delegation is visiting Liberia to provide free medical services to Liberians residing in Monrovia and surrounding areas beginning Monday, May 23. The group, made up of volunteer Liberian health workers, will work along with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in an exercise expected to also include the Government Hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
Touched by the gesture, the President thanked the Association for the spirit of loyalty the group has demonstrated as Liberians. President Sirleaf acknowledged the progress her Government has made in ensuring quality medical services, but also stated that there are challenges in tacking the many health needs of the country. The Liberian leader said that even though the government has been trying to renovate and strengthen the country’s hospitals and clinics, “we still cannot meet the needs of all the people who need the services.”
The President said she was pleased and pleasantly surprised at the great and immense sacrifices the Association made in mobilizing medical support and attracting people with medical expertise. “It helps to bring many more Liberians into a safer health environment. You will be making major contributions to saving the lives of people who might not otherwise have being touched,” she said.
President Sirleaf welcomed the group’s efforts and called on other Liberians to emulate their good example. “This is the spirit of nationalism and patriotism that we pray for every day, where Liberians can spend their time looking at what they can do to move their country forward.” The President praised them for going the extra mile, saying that they have really set an example which the government hopes other Liberian institutions and organizations will emulate.
FELMAUSA’s Vice President for Operations and General Coordination of the Medical Mission 2011, Joseph Sackor, thanked the President for being an inspirational icon for many Liberians, including the team. He said the undertaking was the Association’s way of supporting Government’s effort to provide better health services to its people. “We want to inculcate a culture of helping our country; our support is actually in line with the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy because this will provide health services and help many Liberians to use the money they would have spent for other meaningful purposes,” he stated.
Another FELMAUSA member, Rebecca Williams, referred to President Sirleaf as “God send.” She said she had left Liberia when there was electricity and water, and had vowed not to return until those services were restored. She was home again, there was water and electricity, and she was very proud to go back to America and tell of the enormous developments taking place in Liberia.
The Medical Mission is in the country with medication, medical supplies and equipment worth over US$700, 000, and a team comprised of an eye surgeon, physician’s assistants, nurses, and other volunteers. They will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and local doctors, including ophthalmologists Drs. Edward Guizie and Thomas Baah, to provide free services to over 400 Liberians who are suffering from cataracts, which cloud the lenses of the eyes. The team hopes, in the future, to return and provide medical books and equipment to other hospitals.
Members of FELMAUSA met with President Sirleaf last year in New York, and expressed the Association’s intention to bring a Medical Mission to Liberia. The Federation of Liberian Mandingoes Association team will be in the country until May 29th.