Address by Rev Fr Joe Turay, Vice Chancellor of the University of Makeni, Sierra Leone.
The Chancellor of the University of San Pablo, Chancellors from other Universities, the Vice Chancellor of San Pablo, Deans , the Director of pastoral activities in San Pablo, our dear friends of San Pablo who have worked with us in Makeni, SierraLeone, especially the Faculties of Urban Studies and Medicine, I bring you warm greetings from the University of Makeni and the people of Sierra Leone.
I want to sincerely extend our thanks to you all for standing with us in this crucial moment in our history. San Pablo has always stood by us accompanying us in our journey … Our journey of successes and also our moments of challenges and trials . This partnership has expressed itself in sharing knowledge, material support, friendship and celebrating our common identity as God’s children.
As Universities , we all search for the Truth to liberate and free humanity from fear, disease, ignorance and bring us all to God’s kingdom. This is what has inspired you to organize a Conference on the situation of Ebola in Sierra Leone and the future. We thank you for this great initiative .
The Ebola crisis is a moment of challenge to us all in Sierra Leone and the University as a place of learning,research and community service. As a University and a diocese , we have tried to engage in the process of addressing this disease. We have been part of the Ebola task force in our district and the country trying to help where possible. The diocese and the University has engaged in educating our people through the radio, parishes and other church institutions on the Ebola disease and prevention. We have also supported, through your help, families and hospitals with food, protective gears and other non- food items; our students and teachers have been on the district planning team to organize and strategize. Just the other day we had staff meeting to use our radio station and engage other stations to start media, radio teaching for our primary and secondary school students at home. The good thing in Sierra Leone is that people listen to radios at home. Our health institutions of the diocese are still working. We mourn the death of some of our personnel, especially, Br.Doctor Emmaneul Veijo,Victor Kassim etc.
This moment brings us to realize that we need to do more. As a University we are amongst the most privileged and must give back to society. So we must be engaged. I thank you for organizing this Conference to raise awareness so that people can support us in helping our people. Red Cross Spain is here in Sierra Leone, and we thank you and your country . At the moment the crucial challenge is medical staff and putting systems in place. Based on the deficit of staff and systems in our health sector, I want to make an appeal on behalf of the University to think about , amongst others: how we can address using the faculty of medicine , such similar occurrences of Ebola in the future. We have a department of Public Health at UNIMAK, could we expand it to include infectious tropical disease….Ebola and other viral hemorrhage diseases. This department would aim at training laboratory technicians, nurses and other health workers in this field, research and community services. This could be a joint project with WHO and other bodies. A diploma or certificate program could do at the moment on tropical disease. This is sustainable and could transfer skills and knowledge. This could create space for research. Again, we are mindful that Europe has its own challenges at this moment; but together we can bring hope and joy to humanity.
Once more thank you and may God bless you for this initiative.