The Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), a local non-governmental organization, has dedicated US$65,000 office in Marshall, Margibi County to help support service delivery.
The CHI is involved with providing healthcare and social services to women and children in underserved and hard-to-reach communities in Liberia since 2014.
Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Executive Director of Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), dedicated the facility during a program held on Monday, May 25, 2020. CHI has another office in Gbarpolu, according to Mrs. Tulay-Solanke.
The dedication program was witnessed by various partners, including Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA), Medica Liberia, National Civil Society Council, Feminist Humanitarian Network, Liberian Humanitarian Network, Action Against Hunger and Network of Peace & Security Women in ECOWAS Countries.
“This is CHI’s own facility and we are here to stay,” Mrs. Tulay-Solanke said. “We will always come to work here even if Naomi is not around anymore. We saw our mothers doing this and we have joined them to do the same.”
Mrs. Tulay-Solanke recounted that the organization’s first outreach which was held at the ELWA market in Paynesville and provided dental services to children and also lectured on family planning.
“We never had any funding as a local organization and did not even understand our position. We were more concerned about the work and how to impact the society,” she added.
Mrs. Tulay-Solanke recalled that during the Ebola crisis, they decided to innovate means to have more people wash their hands at the same time without touching or waiting on each other. But at that time they had no source of funding to help expand their project.
She said due to the lack of funding to foster their vision, they were compelled to go in the streets to wash cars and sell tea, which successfully connected CHI to ActionAid Liberia that brought the signing of the first grant of US$62,000.
She said ActionAid Liberia as the first partner has built their capacities in different areas, including programming, finance, and women’s rights concept. Caroline Bowah, Country Director of Medica Liberia who cut the ribbon during the dedication, lauded Mrs. Tulay-Solanke for the initiative and promised continued partnership.
Loretta Pope Kai, the chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, said women access to health services remains a challenge and called on local organizations to focus on decentralization.
“Looking at such a facility in this community now, it’s something that we must say thanks to Naomi. We have been pushing for decentralization of our activities and this must start in rural Montserrado County. There are rural communities in Montserrado County that women are finding it difficult to access health services,” Mrs. Kai said.
“Naomi’s story is a motivation for young people. This is something worth emulating, and CHI deserves gratitude for the worthy initiative,” she added.
Vivian Lymah Tegli, a member of the Liberian Women Humanitarian Network, said they were excited that a member of the network was celebrating a huge initiative.
“We have come to join hands to celebrate with her and hope that this will be an example for everyone within the network to follow. We want to say thanks to the partners for the support and we look forward to partners in the country to support this dream so that it doesn’t die,” Ms. Tegli added.
A representative of the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Division lauded CHI’s family for the initiative. “Our hands are opened to all partners and organizations that have come to help us, especially when it comes to women and children. Our maternal mortality is very high,” she said.
She said the Ministry of Health has a bigger platform for the discussion of child health issues, which takes place every month. “We will connect you to such a platform so we can all discuss these issues to learn lessons and share the best evidence to improve on the services,” she added.
Feminist Humanitarian Network and Network of Peace & Security Women in ECOWAS Countries, Mmonbeydo Harral, stressed the need to invest in local actors because donors will leave Liberia but the local actors will not leave, especially women responders.
“Access to the clinic, especially in remote places is essential. This is why these kinds of initiatives are so important. We are very proud of you, Naomi, for the good work. We know that you are a great peacebuilder,” Madam Harral said.
The founder and Executive Director of CHI, Naomi Tulay-Solanke, is a Feminist, a women’s right defender, and humanitarian who has nurtured a career in advocacy with a humble interest in working with underprivileged youths and slum dwellers through the provision of empowerment, awareness, and basic health and social services.
As a Social Entrepreneur, Naomi launched the PAD4GIRLS project, a solution to menstrual health by training local women how to locally produce reusable sanitary pads making it more available and accessible to girls of school-going age, which promotes girls retention in school during their period. Naomi is a recipient of Dr. Fritz Raleigh Humanitarian Award Recipient from Harvard University 2017.