covid realities in liberia

COVID REALITIES IN LIBERIA

By Sandy Carver
To say that the status of the School of Nursing in Ganta in the light of COVID-19 has broken my heart, is an understatement.

As the Liberia Steering Committee chair and vice-chair of Missions, I need to update you on the state of Liberia in the midst of this ongoing pandemic.  I am sharing with you the response I received from Clinton Zeantoe when I asked him about the situation there.  The school has been closed since March.  I also inquired about the status of the nursing students, the school, and Clinton himself. Here is a part of his response:

“Except for Fefe Sampson and Ralph Williams, who chose to remain in Ganta to provide services at the hospital, all other Peoria Scholars went home. Fefe and Ralph, along with a few other students, are applauded daily by the hospital administration because they are filling in significant gaps at the hospital. Fefe, for example, has a semester to complete her nursing study. Technically, as you are aware, she becomes a useful asset with her level in her training. 

The impacts of COVID-19, on the students, is enormous. They are living on alms (in Liberia we call it) "At the Mercy of God.” This means that they have no reliable source of income. For example, a month ago, I was told that the hospital gave each practicing nursing student 25-kg of rice, which costs about $15.00. There were times that others, including my family, also made some small donations to them. As I said, this is not reliable at all. I am aware of those students going without food for some days…

“I am not currently working like any other staff member in the School of Nursing. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the University has had a drop in enrollment (about 30%). The low enrollment caused a huge financial crisis to the university, leading to a delay in salaries. It was at the end of March that we got 50% of January salaries. Consequently, the university placed all its employees on furlough as of April. Imagining this situation, we are all in a serious financial crisis (not being paid for 5 and a half months). We were informed that the furlough remains effective until  Liberia is declared COVID-19 free, and we return to work. You will not even believe that with all the furlough, 13 security guards of the nursing school are working. Those 13 staff members are working fully (not expecting salaries) because they have to protect the School of Nursing properties/assets on campus (four dormitories, a hall, and the campus).

“...We do not know what will happen to us in the near future. We keep trusting God that the situation improves soon for us to return to work…

Peace,
G. Clinton Zeantoe
Dean of the Nursing School at Ganta Hospital"