Dr. Chris Hena, a Liberian born medical missionary, spent decades implementing successful community based healthcare programs in Russia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. After the KGB’s influence diminished, Dr. Chris became the first United Methodist missionary to serve in Russia in over seventy years. Dr. Chris now is working to reform the Liberian healthcare system through an initiative called “Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia.” She holds a medical degree from Kuban Medical College in Krasnodar, Russia and a Masters in Public Health from Emory University. She moved to Liberia in August 2012 to lead this effort.
Dr. Chris developed the framework for the Liberian health education initiative while still living and working in Kazakhstan over ten years. The program is being implemented by organizing communities to identify and implement preventative care programs unique to each community, with specific focus on improving maternal and infant healthcare, improving the nutritional status of women and children, restoring and maintaining community water and sanitation, and reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases.
Marcella Ruch and Chris Hena met in 1998, when Chris spoke at Marcella’s church in Colorado Springs. They kept in contact over the years and Marcella continued to support Chris’ missionary work, making two medical mission trips to Russia bringing medicine and supplies. Later when Chris itinerated with Marcella in Colorado, they watched the film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” and discussed what could be done to help the brave women, who stopped the Liberian war, and to help their families and communities to recover.
In early 2011 working together with a team of like-minded medical doctors, nurses, and other professional Chris and Marcella established a 501(c)(3) , The Foundation for Restoring Women’s Healthcare to Liberia, Inc., operating under the name, “Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia!” After another year of organizing, planning, and fact-finding mission trips the NGO was registered in Liberia for the purpose of developing and implementing the first community-based primary healthcare for women and children living in Margibi County. Chris moved to Kakata, Liberia in August 2012 to run the program. Marcella and the rest of the Board focus on fundraising and development of the support organization in the US.