Tenegar Town Celebrates Dedication Of New Clinic As Beacon Of Hope
President Johnson Sirleaf received a traditional gift of two roosters along with the keys to a new health clinic built with Mercy Ships funds and oversight. It was constructed by workers from 10 villages and has been handed over to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The new clinic will serve the needs of the residents of Tenegar and surrounding villages for many years to come. Hi-resolution photos and video can be downloaded at www. mercyshipsnews. org.
Monrovia, Liberia (Vocus) November 26, 2008
Hundreds of Tenegar Town residents and community leaders came together from diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds on November 21st as Her Excellency Madame President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cut the ribbon to the area's long-awaited health clinic.
The Samolu M. Dukuly Memorial Health Center now proudly occupies the original site of a burned-out clinic that stood empty since the facility was looted by rebels in the early 90's during the nation's 14-year civil war.
Plans are for the new clinic to be staffed and operated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. One building includes a waiting room, pharmacy, lab, records area, and two examination rooms for outpatient services. A second is intended to serve maternity needs of the community. Services will be offered free to the community. The greater Tenegar area has a population of about 6,000 from many tribes including Mandingo, Vai, Gola, Kpelle, and Bassa, all with different dialects and is 90 percent Muslim in population.
During the past 10 months while Mercy Ships surgeons provided free surgeries in the Port of Monrovia, the ship's community development volunteers also provided management and expertise to the Tenegar site. Day workers from 10 different villages contributed 12, 000 hours to clear and construct the clinic. Matching funds came from Mercy Ships Sweden, the Hildebrand Foundation, and Drake family of California.
"A billboard in the city says Liberia will rise again," stated Mercy Ships Managing Director Ken Berry. "Today we celebrate a wonderful demonstration of that rising again, both in the building dedicated today and in the faithful people who built it," he said, stressing the sacrifices made by the Tenegar community.
"You cut back the brush that engulfed this property. You dug the holes that provide a strong foundation for the building. You mixed and placed the concrete to make sturdy framework. You cooked the meals that feed the laborers. You laid the blocks to divide the rooms. You built the roof frame and attached the zinc to keep the rain out, and installed the floor tiles. You banded together to help ensure your future and that of generations to come," said Berry.
"We had been trying to find someone to [repair the clinic], and we talked to many people. Everybody said, 'That is not a real priority. We will get around to it in due course.' When we got the message that Mercy Ships would do the clinic, what a wonderful day it was! And now we have the results of this major contribution to our medical services," said President Johnson Sirleaf as she accepted the keys to the clinic from Mr. Berry.
Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Meimei Dukuly, descendent of the family who first purchased the land in 1850, explained the historical significance of the property in northern Montserrado County. The first clinic, originally built in 1972, was to be a permanent contribution by the Dukuly family to the people of Tenegar. Dr. Dukuly believes the rebuilding is "a miracle of God," and thanked Mercy Ships for the "many invaluable gifts, assistance, and services rendered to Liberia's people."
Illustrating other aspects of the holistic effort within the community, school children who attended a Mercy Ships program on community health performed songs for the President. She then toured the agricultural area which now boasts an organic demonstration garden, chicken coop, 12,000 plantain trees, 10,000 pineapples, and a low-lying rice field which has already produced 75 bags of rice for the 10-village collective. Six new wells will provide sufficient water for the clinic and the community of 1,200.
The word Tenegar is a Mandingo word that means "building my town on a hill." Certainly this new clinic "on the hill" carries with it the opportunity to provide a shining beacon of hope and healing for years to come.
About Mercy Ships:
Over the past 30 years, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $670 million, directly impacting more than 1.9 million people. More than 850 crew worldwide, representing more than 30 nations, are joined each year by thousands of short-term volunteers. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, community developers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort.
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