In a nation still disorganized from 14 years of civil war, the United Methodist mission continues to serve a range of needs, including providing education and health care.
After suffering damage from a 2003 bombing raid, the United Methodist Churchs Ganta Mission and Hospital in Liberia is receiving support to rebuild the key for United Methodist evangelism and education in the war-torn nation. Grants and donations from groups including the United States Agency for International Development, Germany's Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Church in the United States, have contributed to the Mission centers reconstruction.
"Ganta is the hope for medical work in Liberia," says Bishop John Innis, the Episcopal leader of the Liberia Annual Conference. According to UMC, the United Methodist mission serves a range of needs in the region, including providing education and health care.
"[Ganta] is key for United Methodist evangelism and education in Liberia, Innis adds.
During the final months of Liberia's civil war in 2003, rebels from across the Guinea border shot missiles that damaged many buildings at Ganta Mission, including Ganta Mission's elementary school and hospital.
Having once provided inpatient care to 250 patients a night and outpatient treatment to another 175 patients a day, Ganta Hospital has only recently managed to restore medical care to some of those who make their way to the hospital from throughout northeastern Liberia as well as nearby regions of Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire.
Head Nurse Williette Bartrea says the hospital, which reopened to just a few patients in April 2004, is now caring for some 60 patients daily.
The hospital's blood-testing lab used to be one of the best in Liberia, Bartrea says, but all of the equipment and supplies were stolen by the rebels. Slowly over the past year, the lab has been rebuilt and basic blood tests are being performed there again.
Last February, Liberia's interim government promised Ganta Hospital a grant for repairs, but so far it has not delivered on its promise, says Sampson Nyanti, the associate superintendent of administration for Ganta Mission.
Nyanti had hoped the money would help rebuild some of the hospital's bombed-out wings.
Because of limited usable space, at times the children's beds must be pushed into the hallways, according to the Rev. John T. Togba, Ganta Hospital chaplain. Togba, who stayed behind during the 2003 bombing to rescue a child who was a patient, was the last person to leave the hospital. Bombs were exploding all around him, sometimes in places where he had been standing moments before they hit. He is still amazed that he and the little girl he was trying to rescue survived.
"Praise the Lord," he says, "the little girl God used me to save is doing well today."
According to Bishop John Innis, ground will be broken for the construction of a new 100-bed facility on Aug. 13.
United Methodists from all the districts of the conference will bring bags of cement and building blocks to contribute to the project, he said.