On May 12, Ambassador Michael McCarthy visited the Look to Jesus Medical & Laboratory Clinic in the 72nd Community of Monrovia. The owner of the clinic, Ms. Helen M. Bongay, received a grant from the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund last year. The grant helped expand and improve the clinic’s obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) ward, which benefits an estimated 2,500 people in the surrounding community.
The Special Self-Help Fund gives the Ambassador the opportunity to respond directly to requests from communities for small-scale, community-based development projects that promise to have an immediate impact. “The Look to Jesus Clinic is the perfect example of the type of business or organization who should receive a Self-Help grant,” Ambassador McCarthy remarked during his visit. “The funds were responsibly used, the impact on the community is obvious, and the work Ms. Bongay and her staff are doing as a result is, frankly, inspirational.”
Ms. Bongay, who is also a nurse, used her Self-Help grant of US$9,000 along with US$11,000 of her own contribution to retile the clinic, install windows, renovate a bathroom, and purchase an ultrasound machine, mattresses, and beds. She employees two doctors and two nurses, who see patients daily as well as deliver an estimated 35 babies a month.
Since 2004, U.S. Embassy Monrovia’s Special Self-Help Fund has contributed to agricultural modernization, economic development, sanitation improvement, empowerment of vulnerable populations, and expansion of access to clean water, health services, and education. Each year, approximately 12 to 15 projects are funded.
More information on the Self-Help grant application process can be found at https://lr.usembassy.gov/education-culture/funding-opportunities/. The Fund is specifically for development projects, and the one-time grant must include a matching contribution from the grantee. When assessing applications, the Embassy looks at the sustainability of the project, the impact it has on the immediate community, the ability to be completed in one year, and the capacity of the grantee to implement their proposal and account for the funding provided.