Cora Kukor Doryen, a Montserrado County District #16 representative candidate, is considered by a lot of people in New Kru Town and surrounding communities as a true heroine for the mentally disabled and those addicted to drugs. And though the percentage of votes that she has received so far, according to NEC’s tally of the votes cast during last week’s electoral process, would indicate that she would not win the race, however, District #16 is proud of her, regardless of the final outcome.
Way before the electoral process started and her bid to run was tabled, Madam Doryen has spent the past 20 years as a professional nurse and counselor, running her private clinic, Cora Medical Clinic. For the past 15 years in New Kru Town, her staff have treated many patients, regardless of whether they were able to afford medical expenses. The clinic stayed open during the Ebola crisis, though many clinics and health centers were closed.
According to the passionate medical patron, some of the patients she worked with suffered from personality disorders, drug addiction and mental disability. Her work, she said, was not motivated by her duty as a nurse, or to save lives, but because of a personal experience she had in the past that still haunts her today.
This disheartening story inspired her to take on the challenge of facing some of the most feared addicts and people wandering the streets of Liberia. She said she has never passed judgment on anyone who came to her for help.
“I love my job, it’s far beyond rallying as a representative. I am into it because one of my nephews was addicted to drugs, and when he got sick really bad and died, I started telling people ‘if this boy was not in the street he wouldn’t have died.'”
According to Cora, she tried to get her nephew off the street, “but it was difficult.” Putting herself in his shoes, she said she tried to see what led him to his death.
“I am not only in sympathy but I also have this empathy for the mentally disabled, those addicted to habits like gambling and drugs. Addiction is not just about drug use, there are people who are not taking drugs but are addicted to gambling. We have to change them under the programs I have begun, and would have leverage to do as the next representative,” she said.
The community dwellers in New Kru Town, especially two drug infested communities called Fever Water and Zimbabwe, have gotten to know this determined leader. They say she has been ‘brave’ enough to walk into the communities to administer and seek those who need medical attention.
“Da our old ma here oh,” said one of her outpatients. She comes to us everyday, allows us to come to her clinic to shower, clean up and stay if we are interested in changing. We need more people like her who are not afraid to touch us, listen to our hearts.”
According to Cora, when she started working with addicts, she began cleaning and detoxing them, which led to their friends coming on board. “I want to see Liberia creating a new ministry – a Ministry of Mental Health and Social Welfare. If I become the next leader, I will pass a law that will bring the social welfare component and that of mental health together. We can do a lot if we have a mental health institution, have them counseled, and rehabilitate them. I believe with a three-year unit program, they will become worthy people; they already are in my eyes,” she added.
Meanwhile, drug abuse and mental disability are very serious issues in the borough of New Kru Town, which has become infested with drugs and prostitution, with the affected being thrown out into the streets by their relatives.
One problem leads to another, as these ‘social deviants’ become the reasons why community dwellers have sleepless nights guarding their windows and doors that are always tampered with by those needing money to support their habits.
According to Cora, the majority of the youth in her community don’t just abuse drugs, but are also into gambling, a pastime that starts in children as young as eight years old.
“They start off with paying marbles, then escalate to rolling dice and harsh drug intake. They are then kicked out to the streets. When that happens, they become helpless and a danger to society; and with the constant abuse they face and inflict on others, it has a toll on their mental ability. And of course, they then fall victims to mental disabilities,” she shared.
“This,” she said, “will be controlled one day at a time,” whether she becomes a representative or not.