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Breakthrough in Health Impasse

first_imgAfter more than six hours of tense closed-door dialogue at the Capitol Building Wednesday, February 19, there are clear indications that the health impasse that grappled the nation two days ago may have been resolved.Emerging from the seven-hour long meeting, Senate Pro-Temp, Gbehzohngar M. Findley, told journalists, who had been tirelessly waiting, that the leadership of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) had agreed to stop their strike action.He added, however, that a detailed communication would be issued later today outlining what was agreed upon in the meeting. He disclosed that some of the health workers’ demands were dropped but that they would be paid, one their key demands.NAHWAL’s leadership was probably advised not to speak to the press, as they were very tight lipped and refused to take questions from reporters, let alone engage in any conversations.Our senior Legislative reporter, Mr. Burgess Carter, said the Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, had earlier written an excuse but later showed up apparently due to the national implications of the strike, which paralyzed all of the public health facilities around the country. Public health facilities cater for more than 75 percent of people who visit health facilities in the country.Among the key demands of the health workers was the reimbursement of their US$55 that was deducted by authorities of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the resignation of the Health and Social Welfare Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, along with two of his principle deputies, including Dr. Bernice Dahn, Deputy Minister and Chief Medical Officer, R/L and Cllr. Vivian Cherue, Deputy Minister for Social Welfare.The leadership had resolved that if these three do not resign, they would not enter into any negotiations with the Government.However, Sen. Finley said Minister Gwenigale’s resignation is yet to be discussed at the meeting.“It is very important to firstly address the workers ending the strike around the country to ensure that people do not die from the lack of doctors and nurses,” he added.The Finance Minister and other stakeholders, including the lawmakers and health workers’ leadership, are expected to form part of the meeting today, to finalize the issues of the health workers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Christian Community Joins Ebola Fight

first_imgAt least 67 Christian denominational leaders have agreed to provide hand washing buckets at their churches in order to prevent the virus. They also pledged to work with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and partners in reporting suspected Ebola cases within their communities and churches.These religious leaders are joining the fight in the wake of persistent reports from the Health Ministry that some Christian leaders, especially pastors and “praying mothers” are hiding suspected persons within their churches in the name of praying for those persons to recover from whatever sicknesses that they might be suffering from.Speaking on behalf of him and his colleagues after a one-day workshop held at the MoHSW, Catholic Archbishop Lewis Ziegler made a passionate plead to the public, including the Christian Community, to see the Ebola outbreak as a national emergency. He said Christians should not doubt the reality of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia but should instead work closely with the Health Ministry and partners in containing the spread of the virus which has claimed lives and continues to affect the health of Liberians.The Catholic Archbishop further urged the public to stop the state of denial and limit contacts with bodies of people infected, died or suspected of dying of Ebola. He also appealed to the public against performing the usual religious, traditional and other burial rites for those dying or suspected of dying of Ebola because these practices expose those taking part in them to the virus.Meanwhile, the MoHSW has reported that the deadly Ebola Virus has now spread its tentacle to Bomi, which is the fourth county to fall within grasp of the disease. In Bomi, which is on the highway to neighboring Sierra Leone, one of the hardest hit countries in the Mano River Union (MRU), has reported one confirmed death from the virus.Bomi now follows Lofa, Montserrado and Margibi counties, where the virus has taken at least 46 lives since the outbreak was reported March 22, 2014 to present.The disease spread through physical contact with victim. The virus also spreads sweat, saliva, blood by touching the vomit or urine of somebody who is sick with Ebola. Other means through which the disease spread include handshakes, kissing, and direct contact with body fluids of infected or dead persons or animals.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Anyone Who Eats Ebola Money Will Go to Jail

first_imgActing Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh has warned all of those handling Ebola monies that if any is caught illegally eating Ebola money that person will go to jail.Acting Minister Konneh said it was too early to accuse people of “eating Ebola Trust Fund money”. He, however, emphasized: “But let me say this to those of you receiving money to fight Ebola, when you eat Ebola money, you will go to jail.”He disclosed that the Liberian Government would cut “wasteful spending” and redirect such funding to Ebola treatment centers like ELWA-2 and others all across the country.He also told those handling the funds that proper accountability would be demanded off them in order to ensure that Liberians and sick patients get the “best care possible.”Min. Konneh, who deputized for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wednesday, September 10, at ELWA-2 Ebola treatment center, had earlier been presented 12 Liberians, who once tested positive with the Ebola virus disease but were now negative and were being released back into their communities.He said he had come with two messages from President Sirleaf: “The first message is to thank our Liberian Ebola heroes [and heroines], Dr. Jerry Brown and your team. I want to assure you, the administrators of ELWA-2 that we will do everything within our power as a government to give all the support that you need here.” Min. Konneh stressed that “anything” that Dr. Brown and his team need to save the lives of Liberians within the isolation, would be provided by the government.He said the second message from the President was that their government is doing everything in its power to respond to the epidemic. Among other things, he disclosed: “We are going to open additional treatment centers around Montserrado and across the country: not in the matter of months but in the matter of weeks; we will work with our partners and we will put our government money inside. We will cut wasteful spending and put the money there when necessary.”Min. Konneh, who is the nation’s chief financial custodian, assured Dr. Brown that he (Konneh) would visit the center everyday.Speaking earlier, Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe, in whose electoral district number 6, the isolation center is located, said every time, he enters the center, he is “touched.”“Amidst the numerous criticisms, this center is supported fully by the Liberian government. We must give the credit to the government for the success of this center,” he said.According to him, Finance Minister Konneh had informed him that he (Konneh) has been instructed by President Sirleaf that the center be fully supported.He extended thanks to the government for providing vehicles for the center’s workers and Dr. Brown.He, however, said that supporting the centers was good but preventing the spread of the disease was better and more focus should also be placed on it.He appealed to everyone that handling of the anti-Ebola campaign should be void of political gimmicks.Also speaking earlier, Dr. Brown said the 12 having stayed within the isolation between 10 to 20 days had now tested negative. He said among the 12 was a family whose father and mother succumbed to the virus and the kids were now left with their sister to raise. All of them had been positive.Also among the 12 survivors was a women who had lost all her four children to the virus; the eldest was a 27-year-old nurse. She is now alone as she said her husband long abandoned the children and her.She told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that she can no longer go back to her Logan Town home as there would be no one to talk with because everyone has died. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Let us assist differently abled cyclists

first_imgDear Editor,By way of invitation, Guyana has been invited to attend and compete in Canada at the UCI C1 Para Cycling event in April 2018 and Walter Grant Stuart, a differently abled cyclist, is the ambassador who will carry the Golden Arrow Head (National Flag) for representation. Guyana, you should be extremely proud to be represented. Having known Stuart for some years now, via my photographyIn photo, one can view Stuart in competition during my coverage of a cycling eventcoverage of cycling events in Guyana, it is well-deserving that this opportunity was bestowed on him and I wish him well with his quest for the international competition. ANSA McAL has paved the way as a contributor towards this event, with a donation and I applaud you wholeheartedly. Horace Burrowes, President of the Guyana Cycling Federation has also added his effort and for that, I give you 10 across the board. Guyana, let us all make an effort towards assisting Stuart via donation towards this quest. He can be contacted on telephone number 684-6625. Reference to KN report, dated Saturday, March 17, 2018… I only got hold of this press report yesterday and hope it’s not too late to make a contribution.Yours faithfully,T Pembertonlast_img read more

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Citizens in Region 6 deserve better health care

first_imgDear Editor,It’s very much unfortunate but I am compelled to criticise a sector that I am mandated to oversee by the Regional Democratic Council Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). The regional health system has been in crisis since the assumption of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government in 2015. One of the major reasons is that the person who manages the most critical sector doesn’t even have a clue about public health. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he had accumulated a few years of experience but it is unacceptable for him to claim publicly that the Skeldon Hospital crisis, where drugs and medical supplies shortages led to a crisis, was caused by some internal communications glitches. In other countries, such a response would have warranted a termination. In the health system there should be no room for any excuses by senior Government officials, because the Government is gambling with people’s lives.Since 2015, Region Six has seen increases in the salaries of the upper management of key health institutions, such as the administrator for Skeldon Hospital, the National Psychiatric Hospital, the Port Mourant Hospital, and the Mibikuri Hospital.The management of the Region Six health sector is costing taxpayers’ millions, and as such, deficiency must not be tolerated by this APNU/AFC Government because they want to satisfy a few political allies at the expense of people’s lives. This APNU/AFC Government is managing a hospital with 60 per cent drugs, while Moses Nagamootoo, David Granger and other Ministers are receiving health care in Ireland, USA and Canada. This is an insult to hard-working taxpayers of this country. We demand better healthcare delivery in Guyana.Respectfully,Zamal HussainChairmanRegional HealthCommitteeRegion Sixlast_img read more

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GECOM must strengthen laws to stop electoral fraud

first_imgDear Editor,Electoral fraud is the illegal interference with the process of an election. It can occur at any stage of the electoral cycle, sometimes even in the pre-electoral stages, where some Governments interfere with the planning process of the elections.In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the election results. Even if the outcome is not affected, the revelation of fraud can have a damaging effect if not punished, as it can reduce voters’ confidence in democracy.At a recent press conference, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo, emphasised the importance of strengthening electoral laws to prevent electoral fraud from political parties and GECOM. The deterrence of such practices can be achieved through consistent and effective prosecution. Elections can help despots shore up their grip on power.Holding flawed polls can enable embattled Governments to secure access to valuable economic resources, like foreign aid, oil deals etc. While the APNU/AFC Coalition Government appear to be in their death throes, they would use the ballot box to re-establish their political dominance. That is when the facade of democracy is going to be turned into a tool of oppression to satisfy this Government.As Guyanese, we cannot allow the Government and GECOM to undermine the ideals of democracy and turn elections into empty rituals wherein the Government always win, as was evident before 1992, the PNC era of rigged elections in Guyana.As the electorate, we must insist that the APNU/AFC Government, the Opposition, and GECOM move immediately to ensure that electoral laws are being strengthened and implemented, so that persons in the electoral cycles must be held accountable for any electoral fraud in Guyana.The fiasco of Lowenfield’s disappearance recently, the Returning Officers’ disappearance, fake statements of poll etc, must never recur.Sincerely,Zamal Hussainlast_img read more

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The state of refereeing in Guyana and by extension football

first_imgDear Editor,Congratulations are in order regarding the performance of our overseas Guyana Women’s team. I am still concerned that there is no evidence of football development in Guyana. Again, we have no clubs except for rubber stamping associations.UDFA was again in the spotlight with the head of referees in Linden bringing the game into disrepute after being missed directed by Mr Wayne Forde and team of the GFF. If the Referees’ Association, which should form the referees’ committee of the GFF, is not allowed to function, then the game will continue to go further into a state of irreversible damage.Mr Forde, please save our football and the future of our youths by leaving, since you are clueless as to what is required to effect growth into Guyana’s football. Your adviser, Mr Richard Gordon, is being paid to do what after all these years? He was hopeless as the General Secretary of the TTFF, therefore, what help could he bring to the table in Guyana. Jack Austin Warner was the defector President and General Secretary of the TTFF. Never in the history of Guyana did we have to import any administrator at any level. This is disrespectful and disgraceful to all of Guyana.What continues to amuse me is that former Head of the GDF, Mr Lovell, and Head of our Demerara Harbour Bridge, Rawltson Adams, sits idly and allows Forde to make a fool of them or are you both clueless and hopeless as he? Are you comfortable collecting monies under false pretence while the football ship continues to drift without a sail?In my last letter some weeks ago, I had asked President Forde and by extension, the two VPs, regarding the monies (US$50, 000) received from FIFA for development of referees in Guyana. To date, neither the Associations nor the Custodians of Football in Guyana have been informed regarding these funds. It begs the question if the two Vice Presidents or General Secretary have any knowledge of the use and or misuse of these funds. Take note (VPs) of what has happened to your peers in the Cayman and other parts of the world. You are accountable.Additionally, upon review of the GFF financial statements, this item is not adequately disclosed, which again begs the question as to the competence of the financial officer and the auditors. The police and FIFA need to be called in to investigate the financial mismanagement and possible misappropriation of funds. The silence of the executives and the Associations are deafening.To this date of writing, referees attached to the GFF remain unpaid while those attached to Banks DIH, a new footballing body, were already paid. Additionally, I am reliably informed that this is just the tip of the iceberg since your creditor’s listing keeps growing each day. Some creditors have already taken court action for none payments. Mr President, where are the funds from FIFA?Sir, in conclusion, let me remind you, since you seem very ignorant of the fact, that the referees are the custodians of the laws of the game with the mandate to execute same – not the administrator, including you. Without the effective, unbiased interpretation of these laws and its execution, our matches are nothing more than scrubby, not football.Mr Forde, please pay the referees their outstanding funds and stop interfering with its functioning by suspending our referees without fair play and blocking their appointment.What kind of a President are you? The President who promotes crime, corruption and indiscipline. What about the player from Linden who you rushed for training in Brazil? After he had thrown water into the referee’s face during a match without the matter even gracing the presence of the disciplinary committee. Take a page from the Boxing Association regarding discipline of players.At the end of the day, Sir, you would lose, football will always be the winner. The game is bigger than you, FIFA and CONCACAF.The Caribbean is in a far worse state than ever in its history after Jack Warner because of lack of or no leadership at all.Regards,Thomas BowenBusinessman andformer footballerlast_img read more

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Millions in cocaine unearthed in plywood destined for Florida

first_imgThree persons have been taken into custody following the discovery of a huge quantity of cocaine stashed in a consignment of 5/8 inches of plywood destined for Florida, USA.A sheet of plywood with the concealed cocaineAccording to information received, at about 13:00h on Thursday at Yarrowkabra, Soesdyke/Linden Highway, East Bank Demerara, the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Drug Enforcement Unit along with the Port Control Unit were examining the consignment of plywood when the cocaine was unearthed.Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh told Guyana Times that the operation was a joint effort by the Police, the GRA and the Port Control Unit.He explained that during the examination process, anomalies were detected, hence a decision was taken to search individual sheets of ply wood which amounted to 320. He stated that upon checking, the cocaine was stashed in neatly carved holes in the plywood.He added that for an actual quantity to be given, each sheet of plywood would have to be examined.However, the GRA stated that the plywood’s consignee was listed as a business located on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway with the consignment’s prospective recipient being a Hardware establishment in Florida.GRA’s officials had become suspicious of the contents of the consignment based on the behaviour displayed by the consignee’s representatives during the examination process. A source close to investigations told Guyana Times that the men were trying to hurry up the examination process, claiming that they needed to get the shipment out as soon as possible.The consignment of plywood was transported to CANU headquarters where up to late Thursday evening, the container was being offloaded. The three persons taken into custody are assisting with the investigation.last_img read more

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Another body found in Corentyne backdam

first_imgThe body of a fisherman was on Wednesday afternoon discovered in a pound in the backlands of Number 68Dead: Havan ChandarpaulVillage, Corentyne, and family members believe he was sexually assaulted before being killed.The dead man has been identified as Havan Chandarpaul, age 28, a fisherman of Number 68 Village, Corentyne. His body was discovered at about 16:30h in a pond about half a mile into the backdam.In a release, the Police said initial investigations revealed that the deceased left home on Monday, August 22, at about 20:00h for an unknown destination and never returned. A missing persons report was made on August 24, and a search was subsequently launched.Havan Chandarpaul’s body was found floating face upward in a pond with marks of violence on his body. A suspect is in custody assisting with the investigation, the release added.Reports are that two boys taking their sheep home from the backdam discovered the body and reported it to his parents.The dead man’s mother, Seerani Chandarpaul, said he left home on Monday dressed in a blue shirt, white pants, and white cap. When he was found, he was only wearing his underpants.An uncle of the dead man, Mahendranauth Doolchand, told Guyana Times that the body bore marks of violence. According to Doolchand, there was a laceration on the right side of the head and two on the left side. He said the back also carried a similar wound while his right shoulder seemed to have been fractured. The veins to each of his ankles were severed and his hands were bound behind his back, Doolchand said.He said there were marks on the body to suggest that he was also sexually assaulted.Meanwhile, an autopsy conducted on the body on Thursday by forensic Pathologist, Dr Vivekanand Bridgemohan revealed Chandarpaul died as a result of shock and hemorrhage as a result of a fractured skull.According to the dead man’s mother, there are two suspects. One she gave as an alleged drug dealer, known only as “Tariq” (only name given) who lives in the community and the other a married woman, whose son, she said, was in a relationship with Chandarpaul.The grieving mother said she suspects “Tariq” is involved in the murder of her son.According to her, over the past two months, her son received numerous threats to his life from the accused. She referred to him as a drug retailer who her son recently stole three ducks from. On Tuesday, the matter was settled when she paid “Tariq” $25,000 in open court.According to the mother of two, her now dead son was a frequent user of narcotics but never purchased from “Tariq”, something he was not pleased with.Following the discovery, Police went in search of the suspect and found him at a gambling shop. He and all those present were taken into custody.Most of those detained were subsequently released. Police also took into custody the married woman’s son with whom the now dead man reportedly shared a relationship with.In December 2011, Chandrapaul was charged and placed before the court after being suspected to be part of a notorious pirate gang. One year later, he was released from prison.Police continue to investigate his death. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img read more

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Blocked From Pope’s Synod By Ebola, Liberia’s Bishop Tells His Nation’s Story

first_imgOne bishop is absent from Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Synod of the Bishops on the family. He was invited, he wanted to come, his name is on the participant list, but he is not in Rome. He is some 4,000 miles away. And few—if any—people outside the synod hall even know he is not there.His name is Bishop Anthony Borwah, 48, and he leads the Catholic Diocese of GBarnga in central Liberia, where Ebola is wreaking havoc. Tony, as he is called, learned he could not travel to the Synod in late August, when the Ivory Coast closed its borders due to the Ebola outbreak and restricted the one airline that could have taken him to Abidjan, where he needed to apply in person for a Schengen visa to travel to the European Union.Borwah may not be at the Synod, nor is he able to participate remotely due to technological limits, but the gathering’s focus on the family is vital to his Liberian families. Ebola is their most urgent challenge, but it is not the only one, he explained to TIME in this exclusive interview. Borwah submitted an essay to the Synod—an “intervention” in Vatican-speak—about the situations facing Liberian families. Borwah’s essay is not being read aloud at the Synod but will be entered into the written record and considered in any final documents that the Synod produces.“Enormous are the pastoral challenges of the family in Liberia today,” his essay begins, before continuing to describe the challenges including Ebola, polygamy, migration, unemployment, the lack of a father-figures, domestic violence, child trafficking, and sexual tourism. “Existential questions from the poor, prevalently during the Civil war, are been asked again: Where is God? What wrong have we (Liberians) done again? How come we have once again become the abandoned and scum of the earth?”The past few months since Ebola outbreak have been brutal for Liberia, where about 69% of the population is Christian, according to Pew Research Center. Borwah has lost dear friends to the virus, including his spiritual director, Father Miguel from Spain, his mentor and medical doctor Abraham Borbor, and his prayer partner Tidi Dogba. While the Catholic community as a whole has not had many deaths in Gbarnga, he says, those who are dying are relatives and friends. “As Bishop of my people I carry within my heart their wounds and pains every moment of life here,” he says.The Liberian Catholic community is doing what it can to combat the virus. Borwah has called on all Catholics in his diocese to gather in prayer against Ebola from 5 to 6 p.m. every day from September 1 through November 30. The church uses the first ten minutes for education and updates about Ebola, and then for the last 50 minutes they pray with the Holy Rosary. They are observing strict medical rules about what kind of interaction they can have while together for prayer. No touching, no handshakes, and entrances of churches, homes, and offices have buckets of chlorinated water for hand washing.The Catholic Church is also collaborating with the government on the national Ebola Task Force Team, Borwah says. The National Catholic Health Team is training nurses in three Catholic dioceses in Liberia, and Catholic clinics remain open. “Our Human Rights Department is also actively involved in violations issue[s] that may occur under such a crisis situation and the state of emergency when rights are restricted,” Borwah adds. “We hope to soon begin the distribution of food to mainly quarantined communities and other affected areas.”The Ebola devastation extends beyond just a health crisis for Liberian families. The virus’ highly contagious nature means that family members are kept at a great distance from infected loved ones. Ignoring the restriction, on the other hand, can lead to death, but Liberian families are very affectionate especially in difficult times, Borwah explains, and the inability to show real human kindness is wounding morale.Poverty is also increasing, he says. Already more than 80% of families in Liberia live below the poverty line, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Now the price of rice and other essential commodities has spiked since the ebola outbreak due to port and border closures, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Labor shortages due to migration restrictions are also putting the fall’s rice and maize harvests at risk. Women, the FAO has noted, are particularly hard hit as many are the primary caregivers and can’t repay their small business loans. Schools are closed while the virus is present, and so students stay home and teachers do not get paid. “The Ebola situation has badly crippled the economy resulting in rife impoverishment and hunger,” Borwah says.Increased poverty means increased desperation over the loss of family members to Ebola, he continues. That frustration is compounded when the government buries or cremates loved ones, often without family members present. “These new wounds are a tragic addition to festering wounds that families here experienced as a result of a more than 15 years of fratricidal civil war that officially ended a decade ago,” he says.Borwah is grateful for global aid groups and donors like Catholic Relief Services and CAFOD, the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, but more support is needed, especially when it comes to supporting survivors. “Recently one of the survivors—my kinsman—committed suicide when people avoided him and he felt that he was unworthy of love anymore,” Borwah says. “We need more support to feed the thousand whom are hungry and angry and to care and counsel the Ebola survivors who carry the stigma.”There is a dimension to the Ebola outbreak that also concerns him—the idea that Ebola’s spread could have a man-made and not just a natural source. “I believe that the causes of Ebola are not just physical but spiritual,” he says. “I like calling it the ‘Ebola phenomenon’ because it’s existence raises more questions than answers.”Then there are Liberia’s non-Ebola-related challenges. Infidelity in marriages is common, with the causes ranging from poverty (mostly on the part of the women) and cultural permissiveness (on the part of the men), he says. “Generally the economy of the nation is in the pocket of few men, hence there is a lot of women prostitution,” he says. “I often say that these prostitutes are prophets and friends of Jesus as they signify the inequality, marginalization and injustice meted out against the poor and nobodies of our society especially women.”Women, he adds, are generally subject to men culturally, and are often subjected to brutal domestic violence and impoverishment. The government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done a lot to raise the dignity of womanhood in beloved Liberia, he continues, but “the walk is still too long.”Families are navigating questions of shifting identity. Western technological and cultural shifts mean that young people often have different value systems from their parents, and that is dividing families. “Parents can no longer control their children in the face of this new ethics, something, which brings a lot of pain and worries about the future of the family,” he says.Borwah has a message for the world: “The friends of Jesus Christ—the nobodies, the poor, women and the innocents, the caretakers of others—need both the spiritual and material help. They are losing faith, hope and love. They are poorer, hungrier and very desperate. God has not and will not abandon us, so please do not abandon us to the onslaught of Ebola.”And, in the midst of it all, Pope Francis, Borwah says, has not forgotten the Liberian people. “The Holy Father prays for Ebola stricken people everyday, even as the Synod goes on,” Borwah says. “He is very close to our suffering.”His final words: “Please pray for us.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more