Fire at Holy Spirit Hospital

Hospital Holy Spirit

On November 3rd, we received the devastating news that a fire at the Holy Spirit Catholic Hospital in Makeni totally destroyed the Molecular Biology & Immunology Laboratory, Physiotherapy Unit and Drug Store. Luckily, there were no fatalities and many of the other structures, such as; the main hospital and the recently constructed maternity ward, were not touched by the fire.

But the loss, in particular of the Molecular Biology & Immunology Lab, is a great setback to efforts to strengthen the healthcare system following the Ebola epidemic.

Hospital Grows From Small Beginning

Since its inception as a one room clinic in 2002, under Dr. Patrick Turay’s direction, Holy Spirit Catholic Hospital has grown to 70 beds and is a model and groundbreaking private hospital in Sierra Leone. Describing his approach, Dr. Turay notes, “Every day, we try to make things just a little better for the people here. That’s the key — always improving; always moving forward.”

The Molecular Biology and Immunology Laboratory was one of Dr. Turays’ visions in moving forward and creating a better future for those in Sierra Leone. The Ebola virus that infected 14,000 and took nearly 4,000 lives in Sierra Leone, laid bare the healthcare systems inability to properly diagnose deadly viruses. Makeni, where Holy Spirit is located, was one of the “hotspots” for the virus.

Hospital Key In Fight Against Ebola

Understanding that properly identifying the Ebola virus was a key component to defeating the epidemic, Dr. Turay worked with partners in constructing needed structures and acquiring equipment to establish the Laboratory at Holy Spirit. As a result , reports credit this Laboratory, which opened in early 2015, with saving 100,000 lives through improved diagnosis.

But this Laboratory was also important to improving and protecting the health of future generations. With all the necessary equipment to be able to diagnosis emerging viruses and ongoing viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus, the Laboratory was a critical component in efforts to strengthen the healthcare system in Sierra Leone.

In the months ahead we will be working with Holy Spirit Hospital to help them rebuild these needed capabilities.

Freetown Floods Again

flooding Freetown

During the rainy season flooding is frequent in Freetown.  Our in-county manager Ishmeal Charles describes what this flooding is like and the toll it takes on the people.

Report on flooding in Freetown

Driving along the streets of Freetown makes one worried. Freetown residents are crying. If higher grounds flood like this, imagine what’s happening in the slums and lower ground areas. My city underwater. My spirit prays. 
My heart breaks. My people suffer.

The rains fall so much that many people who are into petty trading, street hawking and many other means of survival have had their livelihoods seriously interrupted and this increases poverty further.

As rains intensify,  desperation rises.  Consequently, hunger increases and the difficulty to fend for oneself surges. Ebola survivors are one of the most vulnerable groups in post Ebola era Sierra Leone and need support in order to overcome their sufferings.

Rice delivery to Ebola survivors

Among the greatest need for this population during these trying times is food. As a result, the Buddhist Compassionate Relief Tzu Chi Foundation donated rice to help. With support from Healey International Relief Foundation the rice was shipped to Sierra Leone. Finally, Caritas Freetown cleared the rice through Customs and coordinated all the distribution.

Several meetings with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, the Sierra Leone Ebola Survivors Association National, and District Executives were held and a comprehensive list of all survivors was developed.

The distribution began at the Goodrich community center on 25th July 2016, serving a total of 50 survivors. They received a minimum of 30 kilograms of rice (3 bags of 10 kilograms) and a maximum of 40 kilos (4 bags of 10 kilograms each). Women, 16 years and older receive more because in Africa, they run the food affairs at home.

Holding additional distributions to Ebola survivors another 3,500 individuals will receive rice.