JOPLIN, MO. (18 May 2012) – A few days before the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic tornado that damaged and destroyed much of Joplin, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba paid a visit to the Southwestern Missouri town in order to view rebuilding efforts first-hand, and announce a grant from the UAE that will support the construction of a Children’s Wing at a new Joplin Mercy Hospital. US Senator Roy Blunt (MO), Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, executives from Mercy Hospital and other local community leaders joined Ambassador Al Otaiba during his visit.
St. John’s Mercy Hospital was destroyed during the tornado last year, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm Mercy’s leadership committed to rebuilding a new, state-of-the-art facility in Joplin. During an event at the construction site of the new hospital, Mercy executives and Ambassador Al Otaiba announced that the UAE had provided a $5 million grant towards the new hospital’s Children’s Wing and neonatal care unit (NICU).
“The resilience of the people of Joplin is an inspiration to the entire world,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “Emiratis have watched this community recover and rebuild from the disaster last year, and we are honored to help Mercy deliver an enhanced level of medical care to children. It is our hope that current and future generations of Joplin residents will benefit from the hospital’s new Children’s Wing and NICU.”
The UAE’s gift will help provide Joplin’s ill and premature newborns with sophisticated and specialized care. At the event, Mercy executives announced that the Children’s Wing will occupy an entire floor of the new hospital and be named to reflect the generosity of the UAE.
During his visit, Ambassador Al Otaiba also visited Joplin High School, where he met with school officials and students. Last August, Joplin Public Schools received a $1 million grant from the UAE that provided high school students with laptop computers. Joplin’s only high school was completely destroyed by the tornado, and the computers allowed high school students to begin the 2011-2012 academic school year on time and continue their studies without disruption.
Before departing, Ambassador Al Otaiba toured the town of Joplin, in order to view reconstruction efforts first-hand. While on the tour, the Ambassador also paid a visit to new homes that were built by Habitat for Humanity with the assistance of Emirati Takatof volunteers.
“Our pledge to help Joplin rebuild started with aid to Joplin High School last August, and continued when Emirati volunteers traveled over 7,000 miles to assist Habitat for Humanity,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “On each of these occasions, I was personally struck by the stories of resilience and determination shown by this community.
Ambassador Al Otaiba continued, “The spirit of Joplin’s people is an inspiration to the entire world. And we are privileged to be able to help with the rebuilding of this community.”