Baby Mustapha’s Recovery

Over a year ago, we shared the story of Mustapha with you, our supporters.  At a fragile eight months old, Mustapha was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a deadly liver disease that required a transplant. There were no hospitals in West Africa that could undertake this life-saving procedure.

The HealeyIRF team jumped into action and reached out to various children’s hospitals in the area, in hopes that someone would help precious Mustapha.

“We called the University of Pennsylvania, the Children’s Hospital, St. Jude, all of them—nobody would take him unless he lived here so he could have follow-up treatment,” Executive Director Ben Parra recalled, “We found out there was a hospital in India that could do the transplant, but they told us it would cost $30,000. We didn’t have the money to cover it.”

Despite encountering difficulties in the beginning, this story has a happy ending.

You, our compassionate supporters, helped us to raise $45,000 for Mustapha’s surgery. In June of 2018, Mustapha’s mother, Christiphine, donated part of her liver to save her child’s life. After a successful surgery, Mustapha and his family stayed in India temporarily to ensure a healthy recovery.

With a huge thank you to those who support and continue to support the efforts of Healey International Relief Foundation, Mustapha is now happy, healthy and home.

Ibrahim’s Story

Education is, undoubtedly, empowering for young children.  Ibrahim is one of our residents at St. Mary’s Fatima Interim Care Center.  When asked to write his own story, his focus was on his education.

“Before coming to the home, I was not going to school,” Ibrahim told us. He came to the ICC at only nine years old. Now thirteen, he is enrolled in junior secondary school, “The school I am presently attending is one of the best private schools along the peninsula, and we are getting the best in education. 

“Our teachers are very nice and lovely they know how to teach and we always understand what they teach us.”

At home, he loves the outdoor compound, “beautified” with flowers with space to do laundry on the weekends. 

“We the boys have a very big space to play football and other outdoor games. With all this, I am always feeling at home and am always happy especially when I am with my brothers and sister[s].”

I am very happy to be [at] St. Mary’s Fatima Interim Care Centre. – Ibrahim

Emergency Flood Relief Needed in Freetown

Once again Sierra Leone is battling torrential rains with fears of impending mudslides that could bring as much devastation, if not more to poverty-ridden areas previously hit in 2017. Flash flooding in Freetown is affecting thousands with five deaths reported thus far.

Our partner, Caritas-Freetown, have assigned teams to areas hit hardest by the storms. They have been working vigorously on the frontlines giving their all to provide immediate relief and care for flood victims. Father Peter Konteh reported that “many have become homeless and we are very much overwhelmed at the moment.”

The rains began in early August and since that time we have been inundated with emails full of desperation; “Portee is flooded, Abdulai Lane is underwater…three killed at Wellington Bottom Oku, two young boys disappeared, suspected dead.” Our in-country manager, Ishmeal Charles expressed his fears to us and the feeling as though the rain would never stop; “the rains were so heavy it was scary and causing me to shake.”

Unfortunately, the rains continue to fall. The Meteorological Agency of Sierra Leone has warned of further heavy rains over the next two months stating that this may be one of the highest rainfalls in years. Nearly 100 homes have been destroyed and families displaced, and those numbers continue to climb. HealeyIRF and Caritas Freetown have been providing necessities and warm meals for the displaced families, something very much needed. However, communities are in desperate need of clean, dry clothes, food and temporary shelter.

Cleaning materials, linens, towels and blankets are in demand for those who have suffered damage to the interior of their homes. Although our warehouse was fully stocked, due to overwhelming requests we are rapidly falling short of such critical supplies. “These are simple items, but they will mean a lot to the families who receive them as they may be the only possessions they have as they start to rebuild their lives” noted Fr. Peter.

Your donation will send immediate help to Sierra Leone, enabling us to restock and continue distributions, in turn helping those families who have already lost so much while providing aid for new victims during the remainder of this very long, very arduous rainy season. Please know 100% of your contribution will go directly to purchase the abovementioned needed items and we ask you to remember this, “While natural disasters capture headlines and national attention short-term, the work of recovery and rebuilding is long-term.”

Donate to Relief Efforts Today

Catholic Health Network to Be Formed in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has Catholic Hospitals and clinics throughout the country.  The mission of these facilities is to provide healthcare for the most vulnerable and needy. Recently, the Bishops Council in Sierra Leone made a decision to form a Catholic Health Network. The purpose of the network will be to better coordinate services among the facilities.

Similar networks operate in Liberia and Ghana. The National Catholic Health Service of Ghana and the National Catholic Health Council of Liberia work to ensure all facilities speak with one voice and that services reach those most in need.

Fr. Peter Konteh, Executive-Director of Caritas-Freetown discussed the formation of the network in Sierra Leone recently on EWTN. He explained that by forming a network facilities will become more sustainable and improve the quality of care. In addition, best practices can be developed. Finally, a network will allow the facilities to access funding from larger donor organizations. 

HealeyIRF will work closely with the Catholic Bishops in Sierra Leone on this project.

Travels to Salone – Part 2

St. Mary’s Fatima ICC – Children settling in and enjoying being kids

In addition to supporting clinics and hospitals, HealeyIRF supports 27 orphans by providing funds for their education, food, and housing.  We recently consolidated two interim care centers to one location at River #2.  It’s safer and there is more space for the children.

We are always welcomed with great warmth and song, so it is always a real joy to spend time with the kids.

A special request made for this trip was tablets for the children to supplement their education.  When we pulled the tablets out of the bag and they realized what they were, there were great screams of excitement.

They promised they would study hard on their new tablets and only play a few games!!

Partnership helps enhance nutrition for children in Eastern Province

One of our partners, Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation has provided us with a generous donation of a multi-grain powder to supplement children’s diets.  During our visit to the Northern and Eastern Provinces, we delivered supplies to Our Lady of Guadalupe Clinic in Mile 91 and to the Handmaids Clinic in Pendembu.  Pendembu is about 6 hours from Freetown and is in a very rural and remote area.  Sister Anthonia was very happy to receive this supplement as they have a higher level of child malnutrition in this area and she felt it would be extremely helpful in addressing this critical health issue.

Partnership for Humanity Renovates Terminal Care Ward for Women

While supporting faith-based healthcare facilities is our number one priority, strong government hospitals that provide specialized care are important to create a strong and resilient health system for Sierra Leone.  That is why we partnered with Caritas-Freetown, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, and the Lanyi Foundation to renovate Ward 9 at Connaught Hospital in Freetown.  Connaught is the main adult referral hospital in Sierra Leone and also a teaching hospital.  The ward renovated was the women’s terminal care ward. Renovations included a new electrical system, new beds for patients and overnight staff, electric fans for each patient, repainted walls and tile floors. One of the nurses at Connaught, Hawa Bangura said, “We use to use paper to fan the patients.  We used to go and find chairs for them to sit on.  But now we have new things here.  I’m happy.  I’m the happiest nurse alive.”

Reflections on Visit

A visit to Sierra Leone always passes far too quickly.  There are always so many memorable events and life-changing moments.  This visit the 13-year old smiling faces of Josephine, Mabinty, and Isata are most in our mind. They have suffered much adversity in their life but are proof of the strength of the human spirit and that scars can be turned into stars.