Fr. Dan Smiling Down

June 2020

Father Daniel Sullivan, HealeyIRF’s first Executive Director, had a dream after visiting Sierra Leone – to help the village of Newton build a clinic to provide critical healthcare services to vulnerable families.  Father Dan raised the needed funds but died suddenly in 2013. 

His dream, however, was realized in 2015 with the construction of the clinic in Newton. A recent story from the clinic staff reminds us that Father Dan is ever present and certainly smiling down on those working and receiving care at the Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Clinic

In Sierra Leone the need for maternal care is overwhelming.  It has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with 1 in 17 women in Sierra Leone likely to die from childbirth and its complications. 

In late March, 28-year old Aminata came to the Sullivan Clinic for a routine antenatal visit.  This was her second pregnancy. She had delivered successfully in 2017 at the clinic.  On this visit she had high-blood pressure and was diagnosed with preeclampsia. The staff followed establish protocols to manage her condition. 

Swift Action by Clinic Staff

Unfortunately, she later returned to the clinic with more severe symptoms. Referring her to the maternity hospital in Freetown, about an hour away, the staff called for an ambulance. With the rise of COVID-19, however, ambulance service was spotty. It was unclear when the ambulance might arrive.

Describing what happened next, Community Health Officer Manjia said, “Instead of sitting and waiting for the ambulance to come as we were not sure when it will really come, we were forced to carry out the delivery. We did whatever we could to save Aminata’s life such as opening an IV line to support the delivery. The delivery was successful. Mother and child were safe. She and the baby spent the night in the facility.”

Tenki!

Aminata returned with her husband to the clinic for her postnatal exam. They expressed their profound and sincere thanks to the facility for the life-saving service Aminata had received. “I was closer to the grave as I felt my one foot was at the grave and the other was in the world. Your prompt decision saved my life and that of my baby,” said Aminata.

As a way of expressing appreciation to the clinic, they brought a large pineapple for the staff.

The staff at Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Clinic receive training to handle emergencies, such as this. But, it doesn’t hurt to have Father Dan smiling down.

After Disaster: Fostering Sustainable Outcomes in Sierra Leone Through Partnerships

Written by Desmond Jones

Together with the Partnership for Humanity, the Healey International Relief Foundation (HealeyIRF) continues to support survivors of flooding disasters and the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, alongside Tzu Chi, Lanyi, and Caritas. These survivors comprise of children orphaned by the eighteen-month long Ebola outbreak and the various floods, as well as survivors who are currently battling ill-health conditions as a result of both the epidemic and the natural disasters.

In recent years, Sierra Leone has experienced increasingly heavy rains that have caused devastating floods. According to eye witness accounts, the flooding disasters brought overwhelming destruction to already vulnerable communities. Many sustained injuries, some lost family members, while others were left homeless. Mabinty Kanu, a resident of Moyiba Town, Freetown, expressed appreciation to the Partnership for Humanity for the rice, clothes, and blankets supplied to her and other flood victims.

Although the Ebola outbreak was five years ago, affected families lost their breadwinners. Those who have survived are currently suffering from a range of medical complications. The Partnership for Humanity has continued to serve these communities throughout the years.

During a distribution of items to Ebola survivors, the President of the Sierra Leone Ebola Survivors Association, Yusuf Kabba, remarked how HealeyIRF and the Partnership for Humanity have continued to fulfill their promise to them by continuously distributing rice and other needed items to survivors.

To support sustainable development for these impoverished communities in Sierra Leone, HealeyIRF and the Partnership have established a relationship with Home Leone’s Destiny Village, located on the outskirts of Freetown in Newton. The Home Leone Foundation works to relocate inhabitants of disaster-prone areas to the Village, located in a much safer environment. HealeyIRF, together with its partners, visited the village this year to follow up on the success of a previous distribution and to further facilitate interactions of love between the families and over twenty-five Tzu Chi, Lanyi, Caritas, and HealeyIRF staff and volunteers. During the visit, items were distributed to pupils of the Destiny Academy, a school established in the Village for relocated children. After the interaction, a certificate of appreciation was presented to the Healey International Relief Foundation.

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.”

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