Grand Bassa-Prior to the outbreak of Ebola, Joriam Clinic struggled to get everything from gloves to pills. Its owner, Joseph B. Sumo, went through hell and high water to get the needed medical supplies for the privately owned clinic.
“We are a private clinic and we struggle to get everything,” he says.
On a sunny day in October, Sumo received a call from Daniel Mellish, BESTWA Field Director, asking him to hurriedly come to their office.
Upon his arrival, and certainly to his utmost surprise, in airtight packages were medical supplies for his clinic, which had temporarily closed amid the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The supplies were donated by an NGO he knew little of.
“We were not expecting it and it was a big surprise. We have to go to town constantly to buy drugs. Sometimes they don’t have the kinds of pills you need, so the donation came as a real big surprise.”
BESTWA (Building Everyone’s Success in West Africa) is a Liberia based US NGO and brainchild of Andy Perkins. With a board containing Liberians and American missionaries, it operates between the two countries bringing ties closer via humanitarian means to the two nations. In the United States, it has Federal Income Tax exemption under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.
The donation to the Joriam Clinic was part of 2 tons of high-quality medical supplies BESTWA donated to 25 hospitals and clinics fighting the Ebola Virus Disease across Liberia.
Worth $2.6 million dollars, it came about as a result of BESTWA’s partnerships with Global Assistance and Medical Mission International.
As Sumo goes down memory lane on that fateful day he received that anonymous call, a crack appears in his upper lip in what seems to be a smile. His clinic, a miniature one, is located in the vicinity called Old Barracks in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, and handles treatable and preventable diseases such as malaria, typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery and sometimes rabies from dog bite. First aid, too. And it has only two rooms.
According to him, the donation by BESTWA is the first of any kind since he opened his doors to people with common ailments in March 2006. “Ebola affected us so badly we had to close and reopened in October. And luckily for us when we reopened, BESTWA came calling with open arms.”
Sumo says his wish is for the organization to go beyond its donations of medical items. “We ask them to please give us some medical books to read so we can at least be up to date.”
Daniel Mellish, BESTWA Field Director, says more donations are pending as the organization gets set on a full blown activity. “Currently we have a forty foot container at the Freeport of Monrovia filled with rice and other foodstuffs for BESTWA school feeding program and our donors in America are about to airlift a huge amount of medical supplies to Liberia.”
BESTWA Executive Director, Andy Perkins, reveals the organization has imported 5 containers of enriched rice meals (280,000 rice meals per container) in response to the recent food crises in Buchanan. “For instance, during the recent Ebola school closings, 300 public school teachers were without pay and without food. We put food on the table for all of them. We distributed 55 gal drums of commercial grade chlorine. We imported by air $2.6 million USD in antibiotics and other essential drugs,” he says.
BESTWA also donated $1 million United States dollars’ worth of medical supplies to the ELWA Hospital. The donation came at a time when the hospital was running out of needed medical supplies.
Corroborating Perkins’ claim, Mellish added that the have been feeding kids since 2008. What started in a single location with fewer kids soon became overwhelming for the cooking staff at BESTWA. So much that other feeding centers had to be established.