Celebration and Departure – Liberia 2017
It’s the final day in Liberia for our CSI surgical team. Children walking to school greeted us along our route to the hospital this morning, as they have done everyday. Today we surprised them by tossing soccer balls out the bus windows. They were ecstatic to say the least. It was a thrill to see there happy faces.
CSI team members continued our education mission with two classes today. Operating room nurse Nancy Corcoran taught CPR to about 50 Liberian healthcare professionals. She donated two adult and two child CPR mannequins to Duside Hospital. Mission clinical lead Lora Koppel, RN taught a class in pediatric pain management. Our ENT and urology surgeons made their final rounds, checking on post-operative children, and we said a final farewell to our patients and their grateful families.
Over the course of the week, our team evaluated nearly 100 children, performed 57 surgeries (41 urology plus 16 craniofacial), and performed 15 various other procedures and observations.
Children and their families traveled from as close as the Firestone property and as far away as the furthest borders of Liberia, with some traveling up to four days to reach us. Resources have been severely limited in Liberia since the civil war ended 20 years ago, made only more drastic following the recent Ebola crisis. According to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, there are currently fewer than 300 MD’s in the entire country.
The resiliency and joy of the people of Liberia is remarkable. Despite the significant challenges they face as a result of poverty, unemployment, disease, and lack of what most people see as essential resources – they are quick to share a loving, joyful and open spirit.
Our week ended with a moving closing and farewell ceremony, which was attended by the Liberian Vice President and the U.S. ambassador to Liberia. A Liberian drum and dance group provided entertainment. Expressions of gratitude were shared by members of the CSI team and Liberian hospital and government officials. It was hard to discern who was more grateful – them or us!
We certainly are grateful to Don and Janet Darden, along with Firestone Natural Rubber, for hosting us in Liberia again, and for all the support provided. Their ongoing commitment to CSI is much appreciated. We look forward to returning in 2018!
View photos from the entire trip here.