Former Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Dr. Nathaniel Barnes has admonished health workers to uphold the spirit of patriotism.
Speaking over the weekend at a program marking the 17th graduation ceremony of the Goja School of Health Assistants at the Mason A.M.E Memorial Church on Old Road, Sinkor, Dr. Barnes called on the 50 graduates, including 48 females, to fully dedicate their lives to saving the lives of their fellow man.
“Reserve no time for your personal comfort now as our health sector is in great demand of committed and ready hands to save it from completely crumbling,” he said.
Dr. Barnes, who also once served as the head of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), as well as Minister of Finance under Charles Taylor, noted that it is unfortunate that most of the students, including those taking health education programs, are learning under extremely poor conditions.
“We are all aware of our country’s struggle to overcome rampant corruption, the unfair dispensation of justice, inadequate support to the improvement of education, health, security and many other sectors but it is our individual responsibility to continue to do good for our people,” he admonished.
“As I look at the faces of all of you young people here today who are graduating, I am assured of one thing: that you have dedicated your lives to bring healing to the hearts of your fellow citizens and the world in general. I say thank you for the life of service and sacrifice you are about to embark on.”
He said the path the graduates have chosen is a difficult one, particularly so because it involves long working hours and very little compensation.
Dr. Barnes called on the graduates to see themselves as a very significant force, although not much is being done to make them live the lives they are entitled to in their career of choice.
“Health workers and teachers are two separate, yet very important gifts from God to any nation that are in most cases neglected and unappreciated,” he added.
Dr. Barnes said success is not inherited, and as such each graduate must ask: “What do I want? What can I do to get what I want? And why do I need to know how to do what is right to get want I want?” if they are to positively impact the health sector.
As part of his effort to bolster the school’s endeavors, Dr. Barnes gave an initial contribution of US$500 towards the construction of classrooms on 1.8 acres of land owned by the school.
During his speech, valedictorian Abel Reed said he is worried that not too many people in the country are fully educated on how to prevent simple diseases like cholera, malaria, among others.
Defining health as the “complete physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing of a person or animal,” Reed said it is good for people to follow the rules of healthy living, adding: “It is commonly said that one’s health is his or her wealth.”
He thanked his fellow graduates for their resolve to continue attending classes, even under difficult circumstances.
The executive director of Goja School of Health Assistants, Rev. Dr. Otis B. Young, said the school began training people 14 years ago in skills development programs such as tailoring, cosmetology, and pastry, but due to rent constraints, the school limited its training to health assistants.
“We are involved in this business to augment the efforts of government and others who are trying their best to get our country’s health system on par with other nations,” Dr. Young said.
He appealed for support from well-meaning individuals and institutions for the construction of a seven-classroom school building for the continuation of its programs.
The crowning of the school’s queen, Mrs. Malid K. Dixon, was done by Miss Liberia First Runner up, Miss Tina Youngor.