Dr. Rasha Kelej To Launch Merck Foundation In Liberia
The First Lady of Liberia, H.E. Clar Marie Weah, together with the Ministries of Health, Education and Gender, Children & Social Protection, and others is expected to officially launch the Merck Foundation in the next two months. At the launch which will also be graced with the presence of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah the Merck Foundation will be expected to underscore their commitment to building the healthcare delivery capacity of the country.
Also at the occasion the First Lady will be awarded the “Merck More Than a Mother” Ambassador in the country.
I am proud to say that Merck Foundation has provided embryology and clinical training on fertility specialty to 5 candidates and we enrolled 10 Liberia doctors into one year and three years Oncology fellowship and master degree. We are also in the process of enrolling candidates for one year diabetes diploma . We shall continue to enroll more candidates to be able to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare in the country.
Also, during the launch, Merck Foundation will announce the winners of their ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Media Recognition Awards, and we will provide another health media training and call for application of the second nexus recognition awards.
Merck Foundation will also launch a children storybook to reach out to young readers to emphasize the strong family values of love and respect from young age. The book which has been localized for Liberia will have a message from Her Excellency and me.
Last but not least , I would like to tell you all that it is our honour for us that The President of Liberia, H.E. George Weah has composed and sung a song for our Merck More Than a Mother Campaign to break the stigma of infertility and encourage men to support and respect their wives and share the journey of making happy family with their wives. This song is very important for all Africa it will make a great impact since the President is extremely loved and admired by all Africans.
• Dr Rasha Kelej, Please Tell Us How Do You Feel To Be Listed Amongst The 100 Most Influential Africans?
I am very proud to be listed among the 100 most Influential Africans of 2019. This recognition is very important for me and for Merck foundation as it acknowledges my efforts, my team’ s efforts through our Merck More Than a Mother and acknowledges it as a huge Movement. It is a historic campaign. We succeeded to mobilize and work closely with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health, Gender, Information and Education, media, Art, fashion, community leaders and scientists to empower infertile women through information, health and change of mindset.
We also worked with local singers, film-makers, media partners and fashion designers to be able to raise awareness to break the stigma of infertility. Through these initiatives we wish to sensitize our communities that Women are more than Just Mothers and Men are more than Just Fathers. Also, it takes both a man and a woman to have a child.
We have produced and launched more than 20 songs with famous singers from Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Gambia to raise awareness about male infertility and to break the Stigma around Infertility in Africa. Moreover, it is also an honour for us to have the First Lady of Burundi, H. E. First Lady of Burundi, in addition to the song of The President of Liberia, H.E. George Weah we soike about it earlier . This shows their commitment towards our campaign.
We also launched children story in African countries. The story has been localized and launched in the elementary level school of many African Countries with message from their respective First Lady, as ambassadors of Merck more than a Mother and special message from me in English, French and Portuguese. And local names and narratives have be adapted for each country.
• What New Initiatives Should We Expect From Merck Foundation This Year?
This year, we are going to focus on Merck More Than a Mother’s twin campaign – Merck More Than a Father. We need to reach out to the society to stop putting pressure on men to become fathers. As, this pressure and stress leads to violence towards their women. The theme of all our initiatives in 2020 will emphasis on Merck More Than a Father. Also, this year, we intend to partner with more African countries to be more inclusive in our approach.
Another important initiative that we have just launched is “The Merck Foundation sustainability Initiative”. We strongly believe that young people have numerous untapped capabilities. We wish to unleash such capabilities which would empower and enable them to lead the sustainable development and Green Environmental Agenda of their countries and to encourage others to lead a cool sustainable lifestyle in order to adapt to the impact of climate change. The aim of this Initiative is to educate, engage and empower youth and young entrepreneurs through access to information and change of mindset in order to enrich their understanding of sustainability as well as support their new innovative and creative ideas in the sustainability space.
• What Is Your Message Young Women You Aspire To Make A Change Is Society Just As You Are Doing?
My message to all young women out there is: Believe in yourself, work hard and never allow anyone to let you down. Put your heart, mind and soul in everything you do, this is the success recipe. And when you make it, do not forget to support other women, remember it will be your turn.