CHICAGO, USA – On Friday, September 18, Chicago Global Health Alliance held its second annual Art Gala at Adler University in Downtown Chicago. Family, friends and supporters of the non-profit gathered to help raise awareness and financial resources for the medical team.
In July of this year, CGHA transported a team of medical professionals and humanitarians along with over US$700,000 worth of medical supplies to hospitals in Liberia such as the John F. Kennedy Memorial, Phebe, and Redemption, and Ganta United Methodist Hospitals. The group plans to return in December to provide training for using and maintaining the equipment.
The emcee for the art gala was local television station reporter and 20-year journalism veteran, Suzanne Le Mignot. Those in attendance also included medical professionals, educators, and a host of experts from various areas of discipline. Despite the inclement weather, the event was well attended, and The Bush Chicken had an opportunity to speak with some of those who came out to support the organization:
Emmanuel Bessay, Chief Surgical Resident at The Scott & White Memorial Hospital (Temple, TX)
How did you hear about the event?
I’ve known [Rev. Kenety Gee, President of the Chicago Global Health Alliance] and [ Dr. Adam Murphy, a co-founder and Board President of CGHA] for at least five years now and since last year they have been in contact with me to attend this program after I attended a similar program last year at Northwestern University.
What advice would you give to other medical professionals that may be considering partnering with CGHA?
The first thing I would advise anyone considering traveling to Liberia is to pack their patience. It’s a different system, a different environment, and things are done there differently. I also suggest people joining forces to be more impactful in Liberia, there may be a lot of pushback from people in Liberia due to envy, insecurity, and plain ignorance. It will require a lot of patience, and collaboration to make impactful change.
What did you think about tonight’s event?
It’s very impressive; I think they did a lot of work pulling the event together, and I’m very proud of their efforts.
Rashida Daryko & Alona Smith, Attendees
How did you hear about the event?
We were invited by a friend who came last year. She told us about the event and what it was for and I decided to come and support the cause.
What has been your impression of the event so far?
I love it; I think it’s very organized it’s for a beautiful cause. I enjoy how the pastor has been passionate about sharing his world with us. It’s awesome. The artwork is beautiful! We were just talking about how different all of the pieces are and what makes you gravitate towards some pieces more than others. I have kids, so I have been drawn to pieces that have imagery of families and children, but also to the pieces that have a representation of our culture.
Why should people be interested in what CGHA is doing?
We’re all human and if you have the ability to help, why not? This is easy. You are able to simply show up and support without really giving much effort. The organizers have and are doing all the hard work, so there really is no excuse.
Tiffany McDowell, Executive Director of the Institute of Social Exclusion (Chicago, IL)
What have been your thoughts about your second year hosting the gala?
This was a fabulous turnout. We had the artists that donated their work actually in attendance, which was amazing! The people that came and supported us tonight are friends, family, colleagues, and art collectors. They care about Liberia and this work. That’s the amazing piece. People are here to support us – some of them are from last year, but we have a lot of new guests here this year also.
What was the process for selecting some of the artwork you have in the collection tonight?
Makeba Dubose Kadem is our curator and art director for Chicago Global Health Alliance. She is a world renowned artist who has very diverse connections within the local, national and global art community. She called on a lot of favors from friends and was able to get us some really high profile pieces tonight. Last year, we had high profile pieces, and it just grows and expands every year. The event is beyond just a fundraiser; it really provides an opportunity to acquire great pieces of art for a steal. A lot of collectors come who are looking for unique quality pieces, and they are able to get a steal.
How can supporters see their contributions put to work after the event?
After the event, we will be preparing to go on our trip to Liberia where we will be working with the mental health and physical health professionals in Liberia and helping them to do a needs assessment. We talked about the Ebola crisis and the fact that many of the people that died were healthcare workers. So right now what we’re trying to do is continue to gather supplies and fundraise so we can continue to send people to the country to provide support.
Why should someone hearing about CGHA for the first time be interested in what your organization is doing?
Locally in Chicago, we have so many people here that feel left out of the system. After several years of protest and discussions, there are finally plans in the works to get a trauma center on the Southside of Chicago. So when we talk to people that come to our events, we ask them to put themselves in the shoes of Liberians. We want to use what we learn here locally to help others. In reality, we end up having a mutually beneficial relationship because of the resilience and ingenuity we take from how they manage to do the most they can with very little.
Featured photo by Amelia Bangura