By David S. Menjor
Hope for Liberia (HOPEL), a local non-governmental organization (NGO), over the weekend identified with a group of disabled persons at a rehabilitation center in Lower Johnsonville, outside Monrovia.
There are over sixty (60) disabled persons, including adults and children, residing at the center, which was formerly known as Our Lady of Fatima Rehab Center.
Presenting 11 wheelchairs to the group, identified as Mission of Hope for the Disabled (MOHD), the executive director of HOPEL, Mr. Eli Gbeiyee, said the gesture by his organization was intended to assure members of the disabled community that they are not neglected or forsaken.
“We are grateful to God for affording us the opportunity to come in touch with a great family like this. For two years now we are proud that this family is ours and we are out there in the United States finding means to help sustain them here in whatever way God helps us,” Mr. Gbeiyee said.
He said the wheelchairs are meant to replace the broken ones used by some of his disabled friends.
“In the two years of our friendship with them we have been able to purchase a generator to supply them with electricity and we are also providing them 15 bags of rice on a monthly basis,” he said, adding that his friends in the US are willing to help improve the living conditions of disabled friends.
Speaking on his motivation for helping the disabled, Gbeiyee said that as a young person he grew up under horrible conditions, and “tasted the bitterness of life several times.”
“I visited Liberia in 2013 for the first time in 24 years and that trip connected me to a friend named Dixon who later took me to these people who I now call my brothers and sisters after he understood that I have the passion to help the disabled,” he said.
“I was a kid when my parents and I parted company and I had to live in the refugee camp in Ghana with other people I did not know. I understand the struggle and it is because of this I am moved daily to do what is right for whoever I see around me, including those who are disabled,” he noted.
He said HOPEL is also expanding the donation to include clothes and footwear to disabled communities in Margibi and Grand Bassa counties.
Accepting the wheelchairs, the deputy administrator for Mission of Hope for the Disabled, Madam Amie G. Sieh, expressed gratitude to HOPEL for the gesture and promised to give the wheelchairs to those in actual need.
“We are grateful and assure you that these chairs will be given to those whose chairs are broken,” Madam Sieh, herself a disabled, said.
“Eli came here sometime back and he saw that some of our friends’ chairs were in bad conditions and as a good friend who cares to keep his promise, he has brought us these chairs. We receive this gift with joy,” she added.
Sieh noted that other than handouts from friends, no other institution, including the government, is helping them.