Ganta United Methodist Hospital: Meet the Patients and People We Serve
Labala lives in the remote village of Gbapa, 50 miles outside of the Ganta United Methodist Hospital campus, in northern Liberia. Two years before she went to Ganta Hospital, Labala's eyes had diminished from cloudiness to darkness, leaving her totally blind.
Completely reliant on family and friends to complete the tasks of daily life, Labala often sat alone under a tree, overwhelmed in her depression and despair. She longed to see her grandchildren playing outside once again, and watch them dance and sing. Devastated by her blindness, Labala spent many days weeping; her only prayer was, "Lord please help me to see again."
In late 2004, Labala heard from a town crier that a medical eye team from Ganta United Methodist Hospital was visiting Gbapa and meeting with blind people. She was overjoyed to hear the doctors say that some blindness could be cured by an operation. After meeting with the eye team, led by Dr. Joseph Kerkula, Labala was transported to the hospital and underwent two different cataract operations-one for each eye. When she opened her eyes for the first time after the operation she thought she was in heaven. She could now see.
Labala is grateful to the eye team from Ganta United Methodist Hospital and impressed by the miracle she received. "This operation has changed my life. The hope that was shattered two years ago has been restored by this gesture of love."
Bob, a 38 year-old subsistence farmer, lives in a village about 20 miles north of Ganta United Methodist Hospital, in northern Liberia. Bob arrived at the hospital near death. He had been suffering from abdominal pains for a few days, but did not want to go to the hospital because he knew that he nor his family could afford treatment. However, once Bob's stomach began to swell, there was no other option for him than to go to Ganta Hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital Bob was diagnosed with typhoid, resulting in a perforation of his intestines. Typhoid is an infection caused by a bacterium found in foods. In Bob's case, the typhoid bacteria invaded and inflamed his intestines and caused a hole in the lining. He arrived at the hospital in critical condition, requiring three major surgeries to mend the intestine, and a four-month hospital stay to cure the infection.
As his condition improved and he regained some of his strength, Bob began to attend morning devotions in the hospital chapel. His weakened condition rendered his voice to a murmur but he grew stronger each day and whispered his praise and thanks to God for saving his life.
Four months later Bob was finally given a clean bill of health and allowed to return home. It was at this point that he was presented with a bill for $21,935 Liberian dollars, equivalent to about $450 US. Unable to pay the entire amount Bob traveled to his village and returned with $1,300 Liberian dollars, a goat, and two chickens. The payment was still not enough.
Fortunately, donations from United Methodists and others allowed the hospital to accept Bob's payment as paid in full. Like Bob, many Liberians struggle through a lifetime of poverty and illiteracy. Most are poor, rural subsistence farmers with an annual income equivalent to less than $500 US. The aftereffects of 14 years of civil war have exacerbated the poor economic situation. While families want and need medical treatment and the opportunity to send their children to school, most can barely afford to provide food and shelter for their families.
The happy ending to Bob's story continues: Not only has he fully recovered from typhoid, but the hospital staff came to like him so much during his stay that he was asked to join the staff! Bob now works as the office assistant in the hospital billing office.