Serving in Sierra Leone
Serving in Liberia
By Rev. Priscilla Legay-Jaiah
The Rev. Priscilla Legay-Jaiah is a United Methodist missionary with Global Ministries, assisting the United Methodist response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. In a recent newsletter, she shares her gratitude to those who have supported the Ebola response, while also providing a brief update. What follows is an edited excerpt of her December missionary newsletter.
Warm greetings to you all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!
I am back in Liberia where I serve as a Global Ministries missionary assigned as Superintendent to Ganta United Methodist Mission Station. I returned to Liberia on November 7 after itinerating in the U.S. for two and a half months. Thanks to all of you who received me in your hearts, homes and churches. Thank you for hosting me wonderfully and supporting my ministry. Thank you for your prayers which gave me courage, hope and confidence to return to my beloved Liberia to help our church in its Ebola response efforts.
I am on a special six-month assignment to serve in this role. However, I am still working alongside my colleagues at Ganta UM Mission Station. The UMC Liberia is responding to the Ebola crisis in a number of ways—through organizing awareness programs, donating sanitation hand-washing buckets and chlorine solution, distributing food to vulnerable families, and using our church radio station to relay Ebola messaging during our worship services. The church involves its schools, mission stations, clinics, hospital, university, radio ministry, counseling ministry, churches, and many other social and spiritual ministries to do all it can to respond to the Ebola crisis.
We are thankful to all our partners who support our efforts. In particular, I am thankful to the Mentor United Methodist Church; Macedonia United Methodist Church; all congregations of East Ohio Annual Conference; the United Methodist Women ofCalifornia-Pacific Annual Conference; the Beacon District and congregations of North Carolina Annual Conference, the Liberia Task Force and all congregations of Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference for financial donations. The funds provided were used for emergency salary assistance to all mission station staff, school teachers, hospital and the agriculture staff. Thanks also to the Goshen United Methodist Church in Indiana Annual Conference; Elizabeth Lee United Methodist Church in North Georgia Annual Conference; Dahinda United Methodist Church; Williamsfield United Methodist Church;Brooklyn United Methodist Church; Cross Winds United Methodist Church ; North United Methodist Church, and OC Ministries Minnesota, Laurie and Harlan Fuller and all the congregations and conferences for the financial support.
Greetings with Raised Hands
When I arrived on the mission and was reunited with my staff, I was so happy to see them. Customarily, such reunions are done with hugs and embraces. But, Ebola preventive measures dictate no touching. So, we gathered around and laughed, raising our hands while greeting one another. As we talked, I learned my staff had not been paid for three months! The Ebola crisis and its ensuing restrictions on movement caused diminished income generating activities on our mission station. Though happy to see everyone, I saw desperation in their eyes. Through our conversations I sensed pride and dignity in their humble sharing about how and why they continued working in spite of the fact that there were no funds to pay them. I expressed thanks to them for their commitment and I was so happy and honored I had the amount of $6,354.00 to help out with emergency salary assistance. This money was shared among the more than 300 staff of the school, agriculture maintenance staff, and hospital staff. Therefore, we are grateful to all of our partners and supporters for the support and prayers for the people of Liberia.
Health Care Access is a Challenge
In the midst of the Ebola crisis, the hospital was the only healthcare institution in the region that remained open, providing critical health services to the public. Healthcare access is already challenged in Liberia. Northeastern Liberia has only three hospitals—two public hospitals, plus Ganta UM Mission Station— serving a population of 450,000 people with a combined total of less than 10 doctors. Even though two cases of Ebola showed up for treatment, placing the vulnerable hospital at risk of contamination— praise be to God, the contagion was contained. No workers contracted the virus while regional health facilities temporarily closed their doors.
Today, the only Ebola treatment unit for northeastern Liberia is located on the mission station property and it is operating out of the hospital’s eye clinic. The center was dedicated on September 15th and has treated 29 patients. Twenty-three of the patients were treated, recovered and discharged. There are only five patients at the treatment center now. During the ceremony, 8 persons were discharged. They each received one mattress, one 25 kg bag of rice and one bucket with chlorine and soap for washing hands.
Currently, what is most needed is rice. A 25kg bag of rice costs $20 and a family food packet costs $34. When the crisis has passed, we will advise you as to what other regular supplies we might need for our ongoing ministry.
We would encourage you to give to UMCOR Advance #982450, International Disaster Response, which helps us respond to the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
Thank you for being our partners in mission and ministry in Liberia.
MISSION WORK - INTERNATIONAL
Mission Trip - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Recently three parishioners of UMCM made a mission trip to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church sponsors a school in a rural region about 22 km outside Bulawayo. Bulawayo is the 2nd largest city in Zimbabwe and once was the industrial center for the country. The unemployment rate is between 70-85%. The currency had become so devalued that it was abandoned in 2009. Water (in the city) and electricity is available sporadically throughout the week. There is no public transportation and most people can not afford cars. The people who have jobs make approximately $300/month and the cost of goods is higher than in the U.S.
Background for the school:
The school site and construction was approved in 2008 by the state. This is the only secondary school in this district, students previously had to walk or find transportation into Bulawayo. The secondary school provides education from grades 5-10. It is not currently a college prep school. One third the cost of building the school has been supported locally even in dire financial times. The remainder comes from the East Ohio conference of the Methodist church.
The local school is critical for two reasons. Girls that do not attend school are married off by the family and this leads to high maternal death during delivery of babies. Another reason is that 25% of the families are headed by a child under the age of 16 and traveling far to school poses a great challenge.
The initial phase was completed in July 2010 and classes started the next term.
What has been completed to date:
What was completed while we were there:
Work in progress: