She was born and bred in Kakaka where she received her early schooling at St. Christopher Catholic School, then traveled to Bolahun Mission in Lofa County, where she completed high school. After a few years at Cuttington University College (now University), she traveled to the then Soviet Union to study Medicine, and later entered Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, for graduate studies.
Although away for over three decades, 25 of which she spent in the practice of Medicine, Dr. Christiana Hena never forgot her native Kakata. She frequently returned home to see her father, Surveyor Dominic K. Hena of the Lands, Mines and Energy Ministry, and the rest of the family. She also never forgot what she and other Kakata residents went through as children trying to survive in the absence of a decent medical facility in town.
Mr. C.H. Rennie helped establish Kakata’s first modern medical facility, which is named for him.
But Dr. Christiana knew that Kakata, a city of over 100,000, with all its surrounding villages and the gateway to Liberia’s vast interior, needed more than one medical center. So she contacted some of the friends she had made as a student and medical practitioner in America and, thank God, they embraced her vision and gave her the financial support she needed to realize it.
The result is the Waterfield Primary Health Care Center, Kakata’s latest modern health and medical facility, which she gratefully named in honor of her benefactors, Jim and Sandy Waterfield. They live in a little town called Canadian Texas in Texas, America’s largest state.
The Waterfields gave this young Liberian medical doctor, whom they really did not know – nor had they ever heard of Kakata – US$200,000 to fulfill her dream of building a modern health facility in her beloved Kakata.
We all know where Kakata is. As earlier indicated, it is the gateway to Liberia’s interior. One cannot get to Bong, Lofa or Nimba counties, three of the nation’s most populous counties, and its breadbasket, without passing through Kakata. Most travelers bound for Liberia’s southeastern counties—Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland—pass through Kakata to reach their destinations.
But Kakata is noted for something else. Greater Kakata lies smack in the middle of Liberia’s rubber belt; and is the beleaguered domain of so many wealthy rubber plantations. These farms made their owners and children very rich—so rich that most of the owners gave their children expensive foreign education, notably in England, America, Switzerland and other parts of Europe. These wealthy Liberians, who made all their money right there in Kakata, gave back to the beleaguered (longsuffering, struggling) town little or nothing.
All of these rubber planters knew that the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) was there—they passed it every weekend en route to their plantations. But how many of them ever gave a single scholarship to that first Liberian vocational and technical school? We know of none. They spent their precious dollars on foreign academic institutions.
Yet it was a not so wealthy American lady, Olivia Phelps Stokes, who gave the first US$100,000 to found BWI. And for decades the school was further developed and sustained by the Phelps Stokes Fund.
Nor did these rich Liberians realize that the great universities to which they loved to send their children were built and funded by private money—yes, Americans who have made money GAVE BACK to their schools, colleges and universities that not only educated them, but those in their states and elsewhere.
You are talking about Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Stanford, etc.
Yes, just like Jim and Sandy Waterfield, Americans who have made money always GIVE BACK, in thanksgiving to God and to the schools, colleges and universities that educated them, their children and their posterity (future generations).
But the words GIVE BACK are, unfortunately, missing from the Liberian vocabulary.
In the spirit of GIVING BACK to the country—Liberia—that made him, an immigrant from the Caribbean, rich, Mr. Rennie did two things more for Liberia. He sent for his nephews in his native Grenada and had them trained as medical doctors and other professionals, who served Liberia for many years. Drs. Thomas, Mark and Cox were among them. So was the once Ace broadcaster Ashley Rennie. C.H. Rennie also raised many boys from up country and bought each of them land in their home areas, putting them on their feet before he died. Blyden Rennie of Zeanzue, Bong County is one of them.
We pray that what Dr. Christiana Hena has done—to remind Liberians of what they already know—that Americans who have made money GIVE BACK—will inspire other Liberians to do the same.
Alas! Dr. Hena lamented to the Daily Observer that she has received not a cent whatsoever from the Ministry of Health (MOH). Why, we ask Drs. Walter Gwenigale and Bernice Dahn, were they unable to provide any assistance to this initiative that is clearly going to help them accomplish the “resilient health care system” the very goal they have set for the nation?
Like Dr. Hena herself, we acknowledge the high degree of interest Margibi Senator Oscar Cooper has placed in the hospital project from its inception as a proactive son and representative of Margibi who we hope will go on to garner more support for the hospital.