As we settle back in from our second trip of the year to Sierra Leone, we can’t help but reminisce on the beauty of the country and the strength of it’s people. Lucky for us, President Robert Healey Jr. joined in on the travels. Together, we met with some important figures in Sierra Leone society, and had the chance to check in on our interim care centers and several health facilities in the HealeyIRF Charity Health Network. We love being reunited with our team and see the work they fulfill in-country, but nothing compared to the reunion for Executive Assistant, Julie Grasso, visiting Sierra Leone for the first time since growing up in the Western area.
Hearing Julie discuss her trip was an absolute treat. “It was truly amazing being back. I was astonished by the amount of life that has been brought to certain areas. As a whole, the population of Freetown has grown substantially and I am in awe of how the country is making moves towards growing its tourism trade.” Julie moved around quite a bit during her childhood but has always had fond memories of Sierra Leone and considered it home. The stars aligned when she joined the Healey Foundation, taking immediate interest in our mission to improve the quality of life of vulnerable individuals and families in Sierra Leone who have long been affected by war, Ebola and adverse socioeconomic conditions.
One moment that really hit home happened during a visit to Serabu Hospital in Bo District. While she recalled her mother being treated at the hospital in the 1970s, a staff member pointed out that was during the reign of beloved Sister Hillary. “She was her doctor! Sister Hillary treated my mom when she had her first heart attack! The meaningful connections and the vast history are astounding.”
Julie’s favorite experience was meeting the children at both of the interim care centers. “Being with those children forever changed me. It is unfathomable to me that they could ever be abandoned by family. They are the sweetest and brightest kids and their faces will live in my soul forever. I am incredibly impressed by the Sisters who run the centers. They are so invested and really care for the children as if they were their own. Seeing Bob (Robert Healey Jr.) interact with all the children was the icing on the cake. He played with them, danced with them, and could probably have spent all day with them. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be part of an organization so committed to changing the lives of the less fortunate.”
Listening to Julie’s remarks has us ready to go back! We can’t wait to start planning our next trip to Sierra Leone.