A basket for donations sat on the dirt floor, and by the time the procession of attendees came to an end the basket held approximately $30,000 Liberian dollars.
Africare began establishing Maternal Waiting Homes about four years ago. By the end of this calendar year, there will be 16 Maternal Waiting Homes in Bong and Nimba Counties in Liberia and with any luck, a few more in Zambia. And there are plans to develop more in Nigeria and other countries. The concept has taken hold, and communities see the value of the Homes and support them.
I had the great pleasure and honor of presiding over the opening ceremony of the Handii Maternal Waiting Home in Bong County, Liberia on June 30, 2014. When fully operational, 20 or more infants a week will be delivered at Handii – more than 1,000 annually.
A little over 100 people from the surrounding communities attended the opening ceremony, which in true African fashion lasted almost all day. Greeted by a large group of singing Trained Traditional Midwives and presented with a ceremonial white rooster as a sign of appreciation during my remarks, I was deeply moved by the heartfelt expressions from so many in attendance of their support for the Waiting Home. In response to an open invitation extended by the head of the Handii Health Clinic, which is situated next to the Home, more than 20 guests conveyed touching, personal sentiments about the value of life and the importance of safe deliveries. A basket for donations sat on the dirt floor, and by the time the procession of attendees came to an end the basket held approximately $30,000 Liberian dollars. I was absolutely mesmerized by the continuous stream of people who enthusiastically decreed their support for the Home and by the generosity of the surrounding communities, in spite of being incredibly impoverished.
On many levels and in many ways, the opening ceremony at Handii crystallized for me the value of Maternal Waiting Homes. But more acutely, the scene demonstrated the validity of Africare’s mission…to work “in partnership with African people to build sustainable, healthy and productive communities,” and it affirmed the truth behind Africare’s most ubiquitous tag line…“Improving lives, Building futures.”
This post is the conclusion of a four-part series detailing Kendra Davenport‘s recent visit to Nigeria and Liberia. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you would like to learn more about the journey and about Africare’s Maternal Waiting Homes. To support Africare’s development programs, including our MWH network, click here to give now. Thanks for reading!