Homeless, mentally challenged woman named Maley, eight months pregnant, was discovered on the bare sidewalk last week by Daily Observer Woman and Family columnist, Claudia Smith.
With a deep feeling of compassion and distress, Claudia started paying attention to Maley, talking to her and to market women on the sidewalk near the Ministry of Finance, sometimes elsewhere, where she spent hungry, painful, sleepless hours in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
On the evening of April 9, 2016, Claudia went to Mechlin Street to find Maley. The market women told Claudia that Maley had gone into labor pain and left toward Nelson Street, Snapper Hill. Claudia followed the path, thinking that Maley had gone to the Snapper Hill Clinic, which denied that she was there.
Alas, Claudia found Maley on a nearby sidewalk in front of Prime Radio Station, where Maley had single handedly delivered her baby! Sellers near the American Embassy took off their lappas and circled around the mentally challenged mother who had miraculously played the role of midwife and doctor, self-delivering her own infant. The lappas were intended to protect the mother and child.
The women and passersby were all asked if any would volunteer to take the baby. No one offered. Edwina, who suffers from a skin disorder, picked up the baby and agreed to watch over him until a relative or the mother could come for him.
How God takes care of His own regardless of how desperate, destitute and deranged their condition! The world over women are dying with their infants in childbirth, even amidst ultra-modern facilities—remember American First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s stillborn child in the White House in Washington, 1961?
Now here is a mentally challenged woman successfully self-delivering her son on a Monrovia sidewalk! What else can we do but raise our hands to Heaven and shout, “Great God!”
But Claudia did something else. She reported the miracle to the Observer management, who provided funds for her to take the mother to a medical facility and later to a psychiatric clinic on Du Port Road, where, fortunately, these kindhearted people accepted her, provided that Maley be treated before admission. She was taken to Benjamin Memorial Clinic and placed on a six-day treatment plan.
The City of Monrovia has more than its share of mentally challenged people—men and women. Some of the men, like one on McDonald Street, Crown Hill, go about stark naked—but thankfully, none of the women. What strategy have the Ministries of Health (MOH) and Gender and Development, which has now taken over the “Social Welfare” function once handled by MOH, to keep these impoverished and desperate people off the streets of the Liberian capital?
You mean neither of these Ministries has a fund set aside to give emergency care to these people—even to a mentally challenged woman in labor?
Remember, the two Ministries, like the Liberian Presidency, are headed by women! What are MOH Minister Bernice Dahn and Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell doing to help these poor people, imprisoned and trapped by mental instability?
There are not, and may never be, many Claudia Smiths roaming the streets looking to see how they can help such people.
That, however, is what governments are for—to help their people, especially the most vulnerable and vagrant (roaming). There MUST be a way out. We cannot throw up our hands in desperation, just like many deprived, hopeless people on our streets. Thank God Maley, though destitute and mentally disabled, did not behave like that—she did not throw up her hands, but carefully, methodically and lovingly self-delivered her child, who, thank God, is alive and well today!
If the government and the rest of us assume a posture of desperation and inertia (apathy, inaction), what about Maley and people like her who are definitely in far, far more desperate situations than we?
If the government will not act, then we need another Antoinette Tubman to build another psychiatric hospital to care for our mentally challenged citizenry. Yes, it was Mrs. Tubman, President W.V.S. Tubman’s wife, whose Social Services Association of Liberia built the Catherine Mills Rehabilitation Center (Rehab), off the Robertsfield highway in Paynesville.
Today, many unscrupulous Liberians have squatted and built on the hospital’s site, donated by Mrs. Ellen Mills Scarborough, a Liberian educator, in memory of her sister, Dr. Catherine Mills, MD.
Who will be the next Antoinette Tubman?
But while we wait for one to emerge, we humbly suggest that the two female Ministers, Dahn and Duncan Cassell, could join with our only practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Harris, and find land somewhere nearby and erect a new Rehab to care for ALL our mentally challenged people.
And why, we are compelled to ask, is our only other psychiatrist, French-trained Dr. E.B. McClain, still working in the Mansion, rather than caring for our mentally challenged people?
And where is Dr. Barclay, our Atlanta-based female psychiatrist, who offered her services to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center but was apparently rejected?
Although we serve an all- powerful, all-loving and most merciful God, it would be risky, even irresponsible for us always to depend on Him to do for us what He has empowered us to do for ourselves.