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.

Support Prenatal Care in Sierra Leone

An estimated 8 women die each day from giving birth in Sierra Leone. Most of these deaths are preventable with proper care. Quality care while pregnant, during labor and after delivery can help these women enjoy the precious gift of motherhood without the fear of losing their lives or even their baby’s lives. The Healey International Relief Foundation is helping to end maternal mortality by providing life-saving medical supplies to the 10 clinics and hospitals in our Charity Health Network.

Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world; 1,360 out of 100,000 mothers do not survive giving birth. The most common causes of maternal death reported are severe bleeding, high blood pressure, and infection. During a review of these numbers, it was determined that the majority of deaths were caused by a lack of availability of essential medicines and supplies, such as blood pressure machines, and testing agents for lab work.

By providing life-saving medical supplies to 10 hospitals and clinics in our Charity Health Network, healthcare providers can offer a higher quality of care. This can prevent a large number of maternal deaths through the early detection and proper treatment of complications such as preeclampsia, anemia, hypertension, diabetes, and infection. Each year, these facilities provide prenatal care to thousands of pregnant women who will benefit from quality during both pregnancy and delivery.

We hope to make pregnancy safe for women in Sierra Leone by taking on the challenges that cause preventable maternal deaths–but we need your help.

Click the donate button below to help HealeyIRF make a positive change.

Travels to Salone – Part 1

Part 1 of the April 2019 Trip Update

A quote by comedian Amy Poehler aptly sums up our most recent project visit to Sierra Leone, “find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

Visiting the hospitals and clinics we support, spending time with the young orphans at River #2, and hours in the car with our Sierra Leone partners made for a productive, inspiring, and always fun trip.

Western Area Health Facilities Providing Care to Women & Children

Nearing its two-year anniversary, Christ the King Hospital in Waterloo, continues to provide much-needed health services to women and children.  Waterloo is 22 miles east of Freetown and is the capital of the Western Area Rural.  The population is over 48,000 and is one of the fastest growing areas outside of Freetown. 

During our visit a young father had brought his son in for a post-natal exam.  The facility tracks height and weight and provides nutrition counselling to ensure that children do not become malnourished.  The nutrition program is developed around items that families can buy at the local market and therefore are more likely to be able to afford and follow.

At Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Clinic (MDSC) in Newton, we stopped by to deliver a new laptop and to discuss health data results from 2018.  Health Administrator Josephine Amara has been working with all facilities we support in the western area to collect patient attendance and disease data.  This will help us better understand the health needs of the community.   During 2018, MDSC had nearly 4,500 patient visits and 69% of those were women.

No trip to Sierra Leone is complete without a short visit to one of its beautiful beaches.  Near Waterloo & Newton, is Tokeh Beach. It is described as a “slice of paradise.”  And, it indeed was!  We only had time for a quick bite of dinner and then were on our way, but we found ourselves daydreaming about Tokeh Beach for the rest of the trip!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be the first to see new blog posts.

A Transformational Leader

This month, we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of our most inspirational stars, Sister Okechi Bernardine Njoku.  Sister Okechi is one of the few mental health professionals in Sierra Leone and is the Director of Holy Rosary Sisters Counselling and Peace Center in Bo.

One of the first sisters to sign up to participate in the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation program to advance the education and professional development of sisters in Sierra Leone, Sister Okechi chose to study at Divine Mercy University in Virginia. In November 2018, she graduated with a degree in psychology.  

In discussing her decision to participate in the program Sister Okechi told us, “I enrolled in the Divine Mercy University program because I felt I needed more knowledge to understand the human person, human joys and suffering to facilitate his or her growth and flourishing. [The University] equipped me with sufficient insights to identify and handle human sufferings in a more professional way.” 

She continued, “After my graduation, I began to treat my workers as well as those with whom I have contact with more respect, dignity, empathy, understanding and unconditional love.  I have become more gentle and compassionate to those who suffer. Above all, I emerged out of my studies as a transformational leader who desires to transform others’ lives.” 

Sister Okechi is now sharing her knowledge and building up the capacity of mental health workers in Sierra Leone, noting “I am engaged in teaching psychology to candidates who are interested in becoming counselors.”

Her day-to-day counselling responsibilities are still a priority and she is kept very busy with individual clients.  In her counselling she seeks to empower her patients so they have the ability to write their own story and that, despite hardship, they are “redeemable.”  Sister Okechi also holds workshops on stress management and addressing the “defense mechanisms that humans employ to run away from difficult situations.”

And if that isn’t enough, Sister Okechi has written a book, “Domestic Violence: A Guide for Survivors,” which she uses to help victims of domestic violence while conducting workshops. 

HealeyIRF is very honored to have been able to support Sister Okechi in her studies. It is through the hard work of individuals, like Sister Okechi, that the delivery of mental health services will improve in Sierra Leone and that those who need them will be able to access them.

Thanks a million times for your sponsorship.  – Okechi Njioku