Showing Gratitude

first_imgIt is indeed welcome news to the outside world that the Ebola Virus Disease which devastated Liberia, bringing her to her knees, is now virtually wiped out of the country with the last confirmed patient’s death more than three weeks ago.As Liberians retrospect on last year, many are expressing thanks to local health authorities and caregivers, and especially the international community, including medical organizations and individuals, who came to Liberia’s defense to help defeat the deadly virus.Several institutions highly grateful for the level of support received from their international partners are health care facilities in Lofa County, specifically the Foya-Borma Hospital, which, during the heat of the crisis, benefited from a donation of a 40-foot container of Ebola specific logistics relief supplies and medical equipment from three US-based organizations.The Container Project was an initiative of the Friends of Foya-Borma Hospital (FOFBH) of Indiana, in collaboration with the Association of Citizens and Friends of Liberia (ACFLi) of Sacramento, California and the Liberian Association of Northern California (LANC). The relief supplies and medical equipment were valued at US$200,000.The Administrator of Foya-Borma Hospital, Mr. Francis Forndia, and the administrators of the other healthcare facilities in Lofa County thanked the funding organizations, FOFBH, ACFLi, LANC, and other contributors.In an interview with the Daily Observer’s Health Desk, Mr. Forndia said, “This donation could not have come at any better time. We were devastated and we needed help. Our county, being the epicenter of the crisis, was in desperate need of assistance. And we will remain forever grateful to our brothers and sisters, who saw the need to identify with us when we were confused and distressed.”The Foya-Borma Hospital Administrator also lauded MedShare, a leading US medical supply recovery organization, which has its headquarters in San Leandro, California; the United Parcel Services (UPS), which provided the transportation for the shipment of the container to Foya, and the Permanente Group of Central Valley, California, which provided funding for the project.“We really want to say a ‘Big Thank You’ to all these people. Their help was very instrumental in finally controlling and eradicating the virus from this county,” he said, adding that “additional funding was also provided by various members of the above organizations, friends as well as business organizations.”Mr. Forndia disclosed that the container project was the “dream come true” of Dr. Mary Zozulin, an Ob-GYN in Waterbury, Connecticut, who worked at the Foya-Borma Hospital. “This Lady was actually one of those who initiated the entire process,” Forndia added.Dr. Zozulin had gone to Foya because her daughter, Kristen, was assigned there as a Peace Corp Volunteer. Dr. Zozulin and her daughter were forced to leave Liberia as a result of the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic. This was after the virus had taken the lives of five healthcare workers at the hospital. They included three nurses, a nurse’s aide and a laboratory aid.Upon her return to the USA, Dr. Zozulin felt the need to help the people of Foya. She got in touch with FOFBH to help coordinate a medical supply shipment for the people of Lofa. With her help they filed an application with MedShare for medical supplies for the hospital.At the same time in Sacramento, California, ACFLi had established the “Kick Ebola out of Liberia,” campaign. Along with LANC, the two organizations initiated a fund drive to send Ebola-related medical supplies to the epicenter of the virus, which coincidentally happened to be Foya, Lofa County. When they approached MedShare, through Mr. Andrew Pines, the Executive Director, he informed them about an initiative by another organization, FOFBH, which had undergone a complete application process but was constrained by limited funding. Mr. Pines suggested that they could collaborate and provide the necessary funding in time so that they could all take advantage of an Emergency Ebola Shipment available only to Liberia. This was the beginning of the joint venture between FOFBH, ACFLi and LANC.Although the donation was intended directly for Foya-Borma Hospital, several other health care facilities in the county benefitted substantially. The other health care facilities that benefited from this generosity are Telewoyen Hospital in Voinjama, Kolahun Health Facility, the Currant Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor and the Yekpedu Clinic. Others are Limgbamba Clinic, Foya Tangia, Gbemah Clinic, Worsornga Clinic, Solormba Clinic, Shelloe Clinic and Mendekorma Clinic.“We alone could not use all those medical supplies, therefore, along with the other county authorities we decided to distribute some of the medical supplies to the other health centers in the county. These were highly appreciated because they too were in dire need,” Forndia stated.He lauded Lofa County Superintendent George Dunor and the County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Josephus Bolongei, for their efforts in getting the container to Liberia and subsequently, to the intended destination of Lofa County.These gentlemen played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Container Project became a local and international success story. They provided the necessary guarantee to the donor agencies, that they would obtain all duty-free privileges and that the Container would be received and delivered to the Foya-Borma Hospital at no additional cost to the donor agency. They, along with the Foya-Borma Hospital Administrator, Forndia, worked assiduously in making sure that the container reached Foya in a timely and secure manner especially during the Ebola crisis.Forndia noted that the success of this project proves that Liberian organizations can indeed collaborate, and be reliable, successful and in the end make a difference when it comes to the welfare of the Liberian people.Some of those who worked very hard to make the project a success, according to Mr. Forndia, include Narwale Washington-Agborsangaya, President of ACFLi and Chairlady of Keep Ebola out of Liberia Campaign, Sam Koaloe, ACFLi Board Chairman, J. Mwah Polson,   Senior Advisor to the President; James King, Advisor to the President on Logistics; and, Dr. Goffa Beh, Advisor to the President on Medical Affairs.Others were Paul Boakai, the President of LANC, Zoe Butcher-Washington, Chairlady of the Board of Directors of LANC, the president, secretary and treasurer of FOFBH, Dr. Nathaniel Samba, James F. Salifu and Mr. Sahr A. A. Nyorkor respectively. Members of the Board of Directors for FOBH are William S. Kamanda, MD, Daniel Saah MD, Mr. Henry Hali, and Mr. Saah Kanda.“We are indeed grateful, and fully acknowledge the untiring efforts of all the people and organizations here named and unnamed that contributed directly and indirectly to the successful and total eradication of the national tragedy and crisis called EBOLA from our dear Homeland Liberia over the last one year,” said Forndia.Shelloe Clinic, one of the local clinics, which received some of the donated items, has a catchment of 6,574. The Officer in Charge, Mr. Jallah K. Baysah, said, “This is true love. We are very grateful to the donors that came through Foya-Borma Hospital. We receive in good faith and will use the donations for the health of our people. Freely we have received and freely we will give.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Britons feared for their lives

first_imgLONDON – Their greatest scare, they recalled, came on the second day, when they were flown to Tehran and backed up against a prison wall while their Iranian captors fiddled with weapons, cocking rifles to make them fear for their lives. “We thought we were going to the British Embassy but we got taken to a detention center,” said Royal Marine Joe Tindell, 21, one of 15 British sailors and marines seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in disputed waters in the Persian Gulf on March 23. There, the mood turned drastically, as their captors changed from military dress into all black, their faces covered. “We had a blindfold and plastic cuffs, hands behind our backs, heads against the wall,” Tindell said in an interview with the BBC. “Someone, I’m not sure who, someone said, I quote, `Lads, lads, I think we’re going to get executed.’ “After that comment someone was sick, and as far as I was concerned he had just had his throat cut. From there we were rushed to a room, quick photo, and then stuffed into a cell and didn’t see or speak to anyone for six days.” It was the beginning of days of psychological pressure that would ultimately extract televised “confessions” from some of the Britons that they had strayed into Iranian waters. The admissions tempered for some the joy at their safe return home to their families, with some military analysts expressing dismay that the sailors and marines had capitulated to their captor’s demands. “It was highly damaging that all of them apologized publicly for something they had not done,” said Max Hastings, a military historian and former newspaper editor, in a BBC radio interview Friday, comparing the Britons unfavorably to American pilots who withstood much crueler treatment in North Vietnam for much longer. But the captives defended their decision to play along with their captors, saying they were subjected to a determined campaign of psychological intimidation. They were separated, stripped, put in pajamas and placed in small stone cells in complete isolation – not permitted even a whispered word with a fellow captive, they said. The lone woman among them was tricked into believing the men had all been released. “There was a lot of trickery, and mind games being played,” Lt. Felix Carman, 26, of the Royal Navy, said when six of the Britons, freed two days ago, appeared at a news conference Friday to chronicle for the first time in public a 14-day ordeal that began, by their account, when Iranian Revolutionary Guards apprehended them in Iraqi waters, executing what seemed a planned and heavily armed ambush. “We were interrogated most nights, and presented with two options,” Carman said. “If we admitted we had strayed, we would be on a plane back to the UK soon. If we didn’t we faced up to seven years in prison.” None of them was told that, in the world outside, their incarceration had become a test of British and Iranian wills in which Iran depicted itself as a magnanimous victor – what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran on Thursday called a “gift” to Britain. The news conference Friday at a Royal Marines base at Chivenor, southwestern England, seemed intended as much to deny Iran’s depiction of the episode as to allow the sailors and marines a chance to recant what Iran called their confessions of guilt. Yet, just as Britain had called their televised “confessions” stage-managed, the Iranian authorities dismissed Friday’s news conference as a propaganda exercise that did nothing to exonerate the British forces. “Transferring the sailors to military bases immediately after their arrival, dictating to them their orders and the planned coverage of the press conference by British and American media cannot change the documents that show the sailors had entered the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, said in a statement. But Iran received its share of criticism at home, as well. The reformist daily Etemad faulted the government for not milking the crisis for greater diplomatic advantage, particularly in gaining the release of Iranians held in Iraq. “Maybe Iran could get some advantages during the talks and end its complicated problems with the other side,” the daily wrote in a column on Thursday. Another reformist daily, Aftab-e-Yazd, criticized the government’s timing, saying that if it was planning to release the Britons, it should have done so earlier instead of immediately after a warning from Prime Minister Tony Blair. The haste with which British authorities arranged the news conference suggested they wanted to deny Iran the propaganda victory it sought from releasing the British personnel, who indeed affirmed Friday that they had been in Iraqi, not Iranian waters. “I can clearly state that we were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters,” Carman said. Reading from a written statement, Carman and Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air, 25, described how two Iranian speedboats closed on two British inflatable patrol boats after the personnel had boarded an Indian-flagged vessel, seeking contraband. Theirs was the first direct explanation of why the Britons did not resist capture. “Some of the Iranian sailors were becoming deliberately aggressive and unstable,” Air said. “They rammed our boat and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us,” he said, referring to rocket-propelled grenades by their acronym. “We realized that our efforts to reason with these people were not making any headway. Nor were we able to calm some of the individuals down. “It was at this point that we realized that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have had major strategic impact. We made a conscious decision to not engage the Iranians and do as they asked. They boarded our boats, removed our weapons and steered the boats towards the Iranian shore.” “Let me be absolutely clear,” Air said. “From the outset it was very apparent that fighting back was simply not an option. Had we chosen to do so then many of us would not be standing here today. Of that I have no doubts.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img