Sierra Leone — A Warm Welcoming Hug


Having not been to Sierra Leone since December 2015, I was filled with excitement to return. We touched down at Lungi International Airport on March 15th after leaving a snowstorm in the U.S. the day before. A welcoming hug of heat met us on the tarmac!Sunset

The airport is across the harbor from Freetown so there are options for crossing – water taxi, ferry, or a 2-3 hour drive overland. We chose the water taxi and while waiting watched this beautiful sunset.

The purpose of our trip was to review HealeyIRF healthcare programs and also our programs caring for Ebola orphans.  These programs are operating well and we saw great improvements. Program details will be covered in future blogs. But for now, I wanted to share some ‘non-work’ related experiences.

First, the beaches…. beautiful… stunning…inspiring,  and I have only seen two of them…there are so many more!  I visited River #2 during my last trip and it was truly breathtaking. Sometimes you worry that you have built up an experience so much that upon return you will be disappointed.  Not so with River #2 — I think I loved it even more this time. What’s not to like — the beach, the mountains, and the boat going back and forth across the outlet. My first swim confirmed that yes there is a very strong current, and you do need to take the boat!

A trip to the market

This trip I tried my hand at bartering at the market. The market is located in the center of the city where masks, carvings, handmade dresses, handbags, and jewelry can be purchased. The fabric of the clothing is bright and very colorful – so you will not find a little black dress here. But what you will find is a lot of people who want to make a really nice deal with you.  Was I good at bartering? Not really, so I will need to improve my skills for my next trip.

Music and dancing

Good music and spending time with our Sierra Leonean colleagues one evening allowColleaguesed us to catch up on each other’s lives. After spending hours in the vehicles visiting our clinics, dancing was also a welcome part of the evening.

As a country Sierra Leone faces challenges and again these are things that will be discussed in future blogs. But for now, I just want to remember the warm welcoming hug that is Sierra Leone.

HealeyIRF Team Headed to Sierra Leone — Including me!

Travel Sierra Leone

The HealeyIRF team is headed to Sierra Leone next week and I am very excited to be participating in this trip. I have wonderful memories from my visit in December 2015. I hope everyone is making extra plantain chips for me, as they were delicious!

Catching up with our team in Sierra Leone is top on my list – Father Peter, Charles, Theresa, Michael, Albert and so many more. I can’t wait to see what has been happening in their lives.

But the critical part of the trip is work and reviewing our programs and ensuring that they are meeting the needs of the people.

Sierra Leone visits to Serabu, Father Dan Clinic and Our Lady of Guadualpe

First on our list will be a visit south to Serabu Hospital as HealeyIRF has a long association with this facility. It is about five hours away from Freetown but a beautiful drive. We will talk shop but also share what music we are listening too. This is an added benefit of the trip – I come back with new music to listen to. Music I am going to share – my favorite songs from the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ –which I have not seen but love anyway!

We will also visit the Monsignor Dan Sullivan Clinic in Newton. Named in Father Dan’s memory it is always moving to hear people talk about the impact he had on their lives. You can visit ‘Our Story’ on our website to learn more about Father Dan.

A trip up north is planned to visit one of our recent additions to the Charity Health Network – Our Lady of Guadualpe Clinic at Mile 91, run by the Clarissan Missionary Sisters. Serving a population of approximately 8,000 it is a mode of efficiency and quality healthcare. 

A visit to Sierra Leone would not be complete without a trip to their beautiful beaches! Luckily we will be touring a construction site that is very near to River #2. So my fingers are crossed that we will take a quick stroll on the beach.

Many, many more meetings are planned but these are some of the highlights. Stay tuned!

A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.

–Tim Cahill


First 2017 Shipment of Medical Supplies Arrives

Medical Supplies

Our first shipment of medical supplies for 2017 recently arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  

Father Peter Konteh, Executive Director Caritas-Freetown and Sister Josephine Amara, the new Health Coordinator for Caritas-Freetown stand outside our Brookfields warehouse.  They were on hand to coordinate the unloading and storing of the medicines.

Supplies were provided to HealeyIRF as a result of  our partnership with MAP International. The donated value of the shipment is approximately $2.6 million.  This shipment includes pain medications, antibiotics and vitamins for pregnant women.  These medical supplies are used throughout the Charity Health Network.   The network consisting of four hospitals, nine clinics, and a Mobile Health Unit provides life saving care throughout Sierra Leone.

Medical Supplies Welcomed by new Health Coordinator

Sister Amara remarked, “I am new to the Caritas-Healey Team but very excited to begin my new responsibilities.  This shipment of needed medical supplies is invaluable as we care and tend to those needing health treatments.  I can hardly wait for the next shipment!”

That next shipment is coming soon Sister Amara!

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.

-Thomas Aquinas


Women & Children…our priority in Sierra Leone

mothers and children

Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Reducing these mortality rates for women and children is a priority for HealeyIRF.  As a result, providing prenatal and post-natal care is a key component of care throughout the Charity Health Network. 

Pictured above, women await these services at HealeyIRF supported St. Anthony Clinic for the Poor. The clinic, located in Freetown, serves a catchment area of over 39,000. Approximately 800 patients per month are seen at St. Anthony’s, many women seeking care during their pregnancy and later for their children.

Support of medical supplies welcomed by staff

Nurse Bakarr noted that the support from Caritas Freetown and HealeyIRF help, “keep our clinic so clean and the patients are happy to come to this facility, it is clean, healthy and safe because of your help. You can see the bed linens and other supplies at use.”

Further she said that, “being a free of charge facility we do not collet money to be able to pay for high quality materials but with your support we are able to save lives of both mothers and their babies with God’s grace. Thank you for the support.”

Our commitment at HealeyIRF is providing the support necessary to increase access to care. In addition, improving the quality of care available to vulnerable populations is a priority. Working together with healthcare personnel, such as Nurse Bakarr, we know we will be successful.

Our children are our future and one of the basic responsibilities is to care for them in the best and most compassionate manner possible.
-Nelson Mandela

Donation a Cheerful Addition for Children

donation children


HealeyIRF feels it’s the little details that bring a sense of home and bright smiles to children’s faces.  At our two Interim Care Centers (ICC) a recent donation from our partner Goods360 of bed linens has added a cheerful addition to their dormitory rooms.

Sister Agatha Kamara, House Mother noted, “The linen makes sleeping an art and joyful.”

Donation of pillows delight children

An earlier delivery of pillows was greeted with great delight.  Can you imagine the joy of having your first pillow?  Summing up the children’s feelings nicely, 11-year old Josephine at our ICC in Kline Town said, “Oh, Sister, I feel like sleeping right now.”

donation children

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee

All through the night.

–Harold Edwin Boulton