THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay’s imprint on a West African nation is larger than most people know.
Through the impact of the Medical Equipment Modernization Equipment, a volunteer-run Christian organization that provides medical equipment to countries with low-quality health care, shipments have benefitted the health and well-being of “millions” of people in Liberia, according to James Ngenda.
“Thunder Bay has been a blessing to many people in Liberia,” says Ngenda, a Christian missionary affiliated with MEMO and the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission.
In 2015, MEMO sent a shipment of supplies to a hospital in Liberia.
The shipment mostly contained medical equipment, but also contained well-drilling equipment, and agricultural equipment to help the overall quality of life for Liberians.
Liberia, a predominantly Christian nation with a population of around five million, has had a recent history of social crises leaving the nation’s economy and health-care crippled.
In the 1980s, two civil wars resulted in the deaths of an estimated 250,000 people. An Ebola outbreak in 2004 claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people.
As of 2015, when the MEMO shipment first arrived in Liberia, 83 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line per the World Food Programme.
Ngenda, who grew up in Liberia, says “the health care system is not in any way adequate.”
“If you can imagine a country that has gone through war, lost all of their infrastructure, lost all of their supplies and equipment, anything that you can bring in if it’s in good working condition is going to be of use,” said Kathleen Ngenda, the wife of James.
James and Kathleen Ngenda have been in Liberia since 2001 and have seen the impact the containers have made in the community, and in their own home.
“One of the things that came in the container was a gas propane stove,” Kathleen said.
“Maybe that sounds simple but for me and my home, that was really a blessing. The equipment you buy in (the) country doesn’t last. Getting something that’s well made and valuable, you can’t explain how that makes life easier for you.”
MEMO has also provided James with a tractor, which he says is widely used by pastors in his missionary to grow fresh produce.
“Most people struggle a lot with food, and it’s something that brings people together as well.”
Through MEMO and the Thunder Bay-based charity LifeWater which provides Liberians with access to clean drinking water, the efforts of Thunder Bay aren’t going unnoticed.
“A lot of people have heard about Thunder Bay, they play an important role in our lives.”