Since Liberia was originally a nation established by tragic events in the United States, we have owed much of what we have, including our education, to educational institutions in the United States. It is of interest to know that the average Liberian student knows more about the United States than Liberia, the country of his/her birth.
It is therefore not surprising that we welcome and appreciate many things from the United States, and to a lesser degree from Europe. Again, the average Liberian desires to travel to the United States more than anywhere elese. Sadly, countries in the Middle East and Asia are little known, which makes it no surprise that a country like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that is being recognized as ‘the giant of Asia,’ is overlooked by many Liberians bent on traveling westward.
Now, talk about the form of government that we have had in Liberia and you will realize that while we started with a one-party system (the True Whig Party) for over a century, it was Liberians who during the period described themselves as “The Progressives” that began to infuse into the Liberian body politic some ‘ideas’ based on ‘socialism’ by which many of them, including Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, campaigned against the free-spending of national resources at the expense of the Liberian people. What then is socialism? While this article will not delve into the main thrust of socialism, it will only give a simple definition as it was preached against our form of government by the so-called Progressives at the time William V.S. Tubman was ending his administration in 1971. Socialism in its simplest definition is an economic system that seeks to achieve equality among members of society. At the fringes of this idea is the greater idea known as communism as it is practiced in the PRC and Russia. What then is communism? Well, communism, like socialism, is also an economic system that seeks equality among members of society and a political ideology that advocates a classless and stateless society that also rejects religion. It is regarded as a more extreme form of socialism.
With the religious foundation of Liberia, one can understand why Liberia stuck with a political system which, after more than one and a half centuries, is still unable to provide for much of its people. While not suggesting that socialism or communism may be the way to go, my recent trip to the People’s Republic of China, being among journalists drawn from ten African countries, provided me an understanding of the PRC coupled with my appreciation of what the country has achieved for her people.
The Chinese Communist Party has ruled the country for more than 60 years, from the founding of the PRC in 1949 by Chairman Mao Zedong to the present. I learned that Chairman Mao, in an attempt to introduce a more Chinese form of communism, launched the ‘Great Leap Forward’ which hoped to blend the culture of the average Chinese citizen and their love of land and independence with their inherent good sense and practical ability to develop their country. In this first in a series of articles, I am starting with what happened during our tour of Shanghai.
During our study tour of Shanghai, the country’s port city, we saw great developments. In Shanghai, we toured several important places, but the one that caught my attention was the Linfen Sub-Community Senior (Elderly) Service Center, which was opened to the public in early January this year. It is one of those places the Chinese government opened to cater to older citizens (above 80 years). It has a total area of 2,204 square meters, measuring the floor area of 2,077 square meters. With the principle of home-style and clubhouse-mode care for senior elderly, the center is designed with a layout of all necessary functions, including the infirmary (nurse home), Senior Daycare Center, Home Service Center and Community Cafeteria. The center is a one-stop senior service platform integrating company, community, and home services. To practice the idea of sharing and openness, the center boasts a family activity area and reading room for seniors to enjoy their old age with companions of different age groups. In addition, professional and socialized operation help to promote the sustainable development of the center and ensure good, quality services. The cafeteria is run by the Hengshuo Anting (Hangong) Corporation that is specialized in providing lunch meals for white-collar workers. The corporation has a safe and reliable supply channel to ensure food quality, as well as a professional team of dietitians. The infirmary, daycare and home services (30 in all) are provided by the Aizhaohu Senior Service Company Limited that offers 24-hour nursing, daycare, home services, rehabilitation, training, housekeeping, assisted baths, hairdressing and pedicure services.
Equipped with 37 beds, the Senior Infirmary is able to provide 24-hour on-demand services for community residents. A team of professional staff (and some volunteers) is dedicated to offering postoperative rehabilitation and short-term nursing services, enabling the seniors to be looked after near their homes.
The Senior Daycare Center is able to provide services for seniors that need daily care, including food, personal care, healthcare and recovery, and entertainment. Seniors are taken care of in the center during the day, and get to go home at night.
The Elderly Home Service Center makes the nursing services accessible to each household. In line with the standard evaluation system of senior service demands, the center set up a team of professional staff to provide a rich variety of customized services in an information-based and intelligent way. To ensure service quality, smart terminals are handed out to service staff and Intensive Care (IC) cards are installed in the seniors’ homes, which allow a refined management of the provided services.
Taking the specific dining requirements of seniors into account, the Community Senior Cafeteria offers three meals a day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as afternoon refreshments and food delivery services.