Wishing you a Happy New Year from Hamilton Beach.
May it be full of great adventures, many successes, lots of laughter, special moments with family and friends and fun surprises.
Let us endeavour to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly in all we do.
All the best in 2012.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:56 AM
Away from family but with friends. I was surprised with Christmas mail and presents from family and friends from all over the world. Thank you! Colleagues that went home for Christmas left gifts in my stocking. Tenki plenti! My friend and colleague Emily came to spend Christmas and New Years here, which has been fun. The morning was spent at Regent church where the children performed their Christmas play. They did an excellent job. We spent the afternoon with an English family - good conversation, playing with playmobil castles and dragons, watching the children open their gifts with delight, enjoying an amazing Christmas dinner (thanks Anne!), blowing out candles on the Happy Birthday Jesus cake. It was so nice to spend the afternoon with a family here. In the evening Emily and I went to Lumley beach and enjoyed the sunset. It was a good Christmas!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:36 AM
Friday, December 30, 2011
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:44 PM
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Today is Thanksgiving. Although I won't be feasting on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie, I can definitely say I have a lot to be thankful for:
- Health - I've only been sick 3 times since coming to SL in 2005 and only required time in bed with ORS and paracetamol.
- Safety on the road - I've been in a couple of near-accidents, but have been kept safe on the roads and avoided major incidents
- Electricity - well, we didn't have NPA for a week, but now have power again. YAY.
- Water - so far so good, we've had a long stretch with water. Now that the rains have stopped we'll have to get water bowsers (trucks) to fill the water tank.
- Friends - grateful for a good group of friends around me, both colleagues at work and others in the international community especially
- Africa Mercy - even though I have only been onboard a few times in the last two months, it is great to have the ship here. Especially in the first 6 months I was onboard a lot, both for work and pleasure. It has been a blessing to be able to send patients to the ship for diagnostics and treatment.
- Family - I really miss them, especially getting to know my nieces and nephew.
- Internet - It's not been working well at the hospital and we still don't have it at the house, but at least there are places I can go to access the internet, which is especially good for facebook and skype.
- Life - we had a morbidity and mortality meeting today. 152 children died in October. That's a lot of death. The average life expectancy here is less than 50 years of age. There are funerals all the time. I am happy to be alive today.
- Chocolate - chocolate bars, chocolate milk, chocolate anything. Chocolate makes me smile. I know my diet is pretty poor here (as in, I skip too many meals, and hardly eat meat), and chocolate probably doesn't help matters much. But the happiness it brings is worth a lot!
- Beaches - rainy season is over, I think. It actually hasn't rained at all this week, not even at night. This means that Saturdays can be spent at the beach again. Thankful. I love the beach. I've also tried to start running again. Coming home around dusk though means I can't run during the week, but weekend, here I come.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:06 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Kuwait Fund Gives US$15m to the Health Ministry in Sierra Leone
The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Haja Hawa Zainab Bangura has disclosed that her ministry has received $15 million United States dollars from the Kuwait Fund which will be used to upgrade the Ola During Children’s Hospital. She said the money will also be used to commence post-graduate training, build oxygen and fluid factories and also revealed that by next year 13 doctors will be sent to further their studies abroad.
She was addressing the press at the Information and Communications Ministry yesterday Thursday November 17, 2011 where she maintained that by next year, they will be building 49 health facilities. “Three hundred and fifthy (350) State Enrolled Community Health Nurses, three hundred (300) State Registered Nurses will be employed and three hundred (300) doctors are expected to graduate from COMAHS. They will be given full residential and horsemanship training to fully prepare them to meet the challenges in the health sector,” Minister Bangura revealed.
She stated that there are presently 21 hospitals nationwide, in which 18 provide Free Health Care facilities, and that they also intend to have at least 8 doctors in every district hospital. She said out of the 40 Gynaecologists needed only one is available in Sierra Leone. She also affirmed that the distribution of the Free Health Care drugs is one of their major problems in terms of accessibility.
The Minister also revealed that they will continue the distribution of the Free Health Care Drugs nationwide today. She said the Free Health Care policy was introduced by President Ernest Bai Koroma for children under 5 and lactating mothers so as to meet the MDG’s 4&5. She said they have 140 containers of drugs worth US$11m in stores, and 52 of the 140 containers will be distributed nationwide and the exercise is expected to end on the 15th December, 2011.
“To achieve an effective delivery process we have put strategies in place so that no discrepancy will be reported in the delivery process and that 6% loss was reported during the initial delivery process. Initially the problems we had include infrastructure, human resources and combined criminal acts, but all these have been sorted out and this will enable the drugs reach the real beneficiaries,” Minister Bangura stressed with optimism.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:21 PM
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I believe it was last week that the electoral commissioner, Christiana Thorpe, announced that the presidential elections in Sierra Leone will take place on Novmeber 17th 2012. That’s one year from today.
Will His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, APC, be re-elected as president or will another party take the lead? Only time will tell.
I clearly remember the elections that took place in 2007. Everyone was wondering whether or not they would pass peacefully. While thousands, actually about 2 million, people went to the polling stations to vote, we were confined to our team house compound on Lumley road. Just in case. Fortunately, both the first round of elections and the run-off was peaceful. Fingers crossed the same will happen this time around. I’ll keep you posted.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:12 PM
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Today is a lazy Saturday. I didn't sleep much last night and was woken up early for various reasons, one being very loud music coming from the compound next door, but I managed to get out the door before 10 with my flat mate. We headed for Bliss patisserie. Our plan was brunch and internet. The internet was slow at first but picked up as the morning progressed.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 1:37 PM
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
A few months ago Welbodi Partnership was awarded a three-year grant from Comic Relief to support the work we are doing at the Ola During Children’s Hospital. We are happy to say that the funding should be released today, November 1st. The money from Comic Relief will enable us to support bigger projects that will have a greater impact on the care provided in the hospital. Of course, in leading up to the money being released we have taken the time to improve our financial systems and make processes more robust. We are now ready to GO!
In the next few months, as the grant starts up, we will continue to develop monitoring and evaluation tools. We do not simply want to fund projects and walk away, we want to be able to show three years down the line that the money spent has had a positive impact here at Ola During. We will not only look at the affect on the child mortality rate but also look at the impact of our work on parent satisfaction, staff satisfaction, staff empowerment and the quality of care provided by the doctors and nurses. These are all areas in which we hope to make a positive change. Together with our partners at ODCH and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation we hope to make this grant a huge success.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:44 AM
Monday, October 31, 2011
This week is especially busy. I am reminding myself to breathe in and breathe out. What I get done, is done, what I don’t will have to wait until next week.
Our Comic Relief funding starts tomorrow – November 1st, which is very exciting. However, it also means that we’re starting with a new financial system, which involves a variety of forms that need to be filled out per transaction, spreadsheets to update and a new coding system to learn. I hope I will get used to it quickly. I also need to get cracking again on the Monitoring and Evaluation side of things for Comic Relief, which involves developing tools to monitor patient satisfaction, staff empowerment, quality of care in the hospital and other things. It’s an exciting project but also a lot of work.
I also have to prepare for a Skype Board meeting on Sunday, which means compiling reports and the like. I’m sure it will be a good meeting, if Skype works that is, but it always takes a little preparation time. We’ll be Skyping in from Freetown, London and Boston!
A small team from King’s College in London arrived yesterday. They are here to see how they can partner with Sierra Leone in the area of undergraduate/postgraduate medical/nursing training. They have various meetings lined up and we hope to tag along to some of them. A colleague and myself are meeting with them tonight to finalize the schedule. It’s a fly-by visit with them leaving on Friday but I’m sure it will be productive and hopefully impact training in Sierra Leone in the (near) future.
There is also a congress this week for the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association. We’ve been invited to the opening ceremony on Wednesday, which will be a good networking opportunity since most medical professionals in the country will likely be present. It frightens me to think how this will affect clinical care in hospitals on that day... The following two days they will hold scientific sessions, but considering the amount of work to do in the hospital, I’m not sure if I’ll attend. We’ll see how the week goes.
And of course, the usual work goes on. I don’t think I’ll make it to the wards much this week but that’s okay. I spent all day in ICU/Ward 3 on Friday so I’m saturated for now. A physiotherapist from the USA arrived last week and is willing to volunteer her time at the Children’s Hospital a couple of days a week. So, I spent Friday showing her around, introducing her to staff and patients and kicking-off in-patient physiotherapy at the Children’s Hospital. Exciting times.
All right, I have a few more emails to finish off before heading up the road to Mamba Point for a dinner with the Kings crew.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:04 PM
Website Article: Visit to Sierra Leone of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal
Just after lunchtime on Wednesday a small crowd gathered at Lungi to bid a fond farewell to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at the finale of an historic royal visit to Sierra Leone. Her Royal Highness, accompanied by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, had spent the past two days in Freetown to mark the 50th anniversary of independence and recalling the visit of Her Majesty the Queen back in 1961.
Arriving late on Sunday night, the Royal couple’s first taste of Sierra Leone was crossing the bay from Mahera to Freetown, a truly unique airport arrival experience. They awoke the following morning to the bustling sights and sounds of Wilberforce and then wound down Hill Cot Road for a call on His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma. During their meeting, the Princess and President discussed the depth and breadth of the historical links shared between Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom and enjoyed a lively conversation about the strength of the 21st century relationship. This built on a similar conversation during the recent visit of Henry Bellingham MP, the UK’s Minister for Africa.
Keen to experience more of Sierra Leone and to meet its people, the Princess undertook a busy schedule of visits throughout the peninsula. Talking with businessmen and women she learned that British and Sierra Leonean companies are working well together across a range sectors, nearly doubling trade between the two countries during 2010. This dynamic partnership will contribute so much to the prosperity of both countries.
The Royal Family strongly supports development and human rights work around the globe and the Princess is no exception. She was keen to use her first visit to the Sierra Leone to see for herself the progress made in health, education and equality since the war. Staff at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) described for her the significant role that the UK’s development assistance continues to play in helping to build Sierra Leone’s future; especially through the Free Health Care Initiative. The Save the Children Fund showed her their work with vulnerable groups at Kroo Bay. The Princess is President of SCF’s UK chapter and was pleased to feel a personal connection to the ongoing work of British aid organisations and volunteers in Sierra Leone.
The Princess rounded off her stay in ‘Sweet Salone’ by taking the time to explore her diverse culture, environment and history, visiting Bunce Island and spending an enjoyable afternoon amongst the wildlife at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Both of which highlight the potential for a vibrant tourism trade in Sierra Leone; bringing further investment, jobs and development.
The British High Commission was keen to document this visit and proposes to share it with as many people as possible. We will be putting more information, including many photographs, onto the High Commission website, flickr and Facebook pages. If you are interested in finding out more about the visit or were lucky enough to have been at the events please check theses out, you may even be in one of the photos!
Taken from: http://ukinsierraleone.fco.gov.uk/en/
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:00 AM
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:21 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:59 PM
Monday, October 17, 2011
On a day like today I need to count the good things that occur.
I woke up in good health.
We had running water in the house.
The Land Rover started this morning.
Amara Kamara who was admitted in ICU with meningitis three weeks ago has been discharged today. I remember the first few days he was with us, with his persistent fits. We were afraid for his life. Today, before leaving he gave me the cutest smile ever. I am very thankful.
The city waste management came to take away a truckload of trash from the compound. That’s a good thing.
The Internet is working in the main building of the hospital.
I was able to arrange a free CT scan for an 11-year-old girl with severe headache. Hopefully it will help in reaching a diagnosis and potentially treatment for her.
A patient of mine has been admitted on the ship for surgery tomorrow.
I just had a very cold bottle of Coca Cola.
It’s the good things that matter today, no matter how small they are.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 2:33 PM
Friday, October 14, 2011
I'm so glad it's weekend. It was another crazy day today. It was one of those interesting days at work in which I ended up doing so many things that probably someone else should have done...
I went to the ward to sort out two patients only to find out one of them disappeared. Instead of waiting for a referral letter (as instructed) for an echocardiogram they decided to go elsewhere for a blood test that needed to take place at some point but which was much less urgent! No one knew where she went at 6 am! Anyway, all said and done, they returned mid-morning and echo is re-scheduled for Saturday.
The second patient has been in hospital for a month and needs anti-tuberculosis medication. Unfortunately the country is out of anti-tuberculosis medication (can you believe it?) and has been for the past month. The child also has an infection in his leg and so I sent him for a second opinion elsewhere. Mom's a trooper cause when I walked in to town later in the afternoon to go to a meeting I met mom on a busy street on her way to the hospital after buying some anti-tuberculosis drugs from the pharmacy. One of the three meds was not right, so we ended up going to the pharmacy together to sort it out. Her child will finally receive anti-tuberculosis treatment now. Question is, will this be sustainable? Let's hope the national TB program's drugs come soon so that there is a continuous and free supply!
Speaking of drug supply, I ended up having to find anesthetic drugs for the maternity hospital today. They were on their last few vials while waiting for a shipment to be released. We found out the drugs will be cleared on Monday so, to tie them over, we arranged a loan of drugs from an NGO hospital. I'd hate to think of what would have happened to the women coming in needing emergency surgery (C-sections, ruptured uterus, etc). Oh Salone. Oh agencies.
Another mom cornered me as I was leaving the ward. That's what happens: you go in to see a patient and arrange something and before you know it, you're asked by another mom to come and see her child. This was a boy I knew from ICU. He was diagnosed with meningitis and is on i.v. Ceftriaxone. He needs to be on i.v. treatment for a while but unfortunately the supply ran out today. I won't go into details because the whole supply/re-stocking is very complicated but it means his treatment will be interrupted. So sad. Fingers crossed he'll make a full recovery. Unfortunately he does have some right-sided weakness but I'm hoping physiotherapy will help! Let’s hope for i.v. Ceftriaxone again on Monday.
I had a meeting today about radiography training and am hopeful about the prospects. Not for me of course, but for the trainees and for the children in the health facilities who will finally have access to x-rays! Let's hope this kicks off in the next two months. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, we need to try to source an x-ray machine, some equipment to go with it, consumables, etc. Toes crossed too.
This evening after we got home from work I went out again to go and visit my driver. He fell down this morning and wasn't able to make it to work. So, a friend and I drove up. He's okay but will probably need some rest and painkillers for a few days. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to convince him to stay away from injections. Almost everyone here loves injections.
When we brought the car back to the office I went inside to download some documents that were sent to me this afternoon. Financial documents for a meeting I have tomorrow. Better late than never? Well, I was a bit frightened by what I saw and decided I would need to stay in the office for a few hours to go through the spreadsheets/documents. So, here I am: in the office, with a cup of tea, looking through spreadsheets (and blogging). In an hour a friend will come to pick me up (and bring some bread) and I’ll head home to sleep. In the morning I am taking the Land Rover to IMATT for inspection and then going to my accounting meeting. I'm definitely taking next weekend off!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:17 PM
Saturday, October 08, 2011
On hearing about Ibrahim’s death on Tuesday I decided I needed to visit Wara, Namina, Saidu and family in Bailor town to express my sympathy and encourage them. Osman kindly agreed to drive me there, which was great since he is also a friend and knows the family too.
For some reason I was nervous about the trip. I was not sure how the family was doing and unsure what was expected of me. However, I knew I had to go. I prayed for wisdom, sensitivity (knowing culturally what was okay) and safe travels. Osman is a great driver but his car, ABJ, is not the most reliable. I love and hate that car! Also, it was middle of rainy season and the roads and bridges had been damaged. There was a possibility that we would have to take a detour. Only time would tell.
We had an early start on Saturday. The drive to the ferry was fine. The ferry crossing was perfect. We met up with Saidu in Lungi and had breakfast. We then continued on to Bailor. We had to stop at a checkpoint, which was troublesome last time but we made it through quickly without any problems. Saidu said that the bridge had been fixed and was better than last time and so we thought we would try the usual route. Thankfully, the bridge was intact. After the bridge we drove through a mud pool and that didn’t stop us either.
When we arrived in Bailor town people surrounded us within seconds, mostly children. We were taken to the landing outside of the house and I waited for Wara to appear. As soon as she came out I got up to meet her. As I embraced her, she started to weep. Her deep sorrow was so apparent. This woman has been through so much in the last few years. She has sacrificed a lot for her family. And now she was in need of comfort. And that is all I could do. I had the chance to talk to her a little later to encourage her. She’s an amazing woman and I hope that she will sense His peace and comfort.
Namina was in great form and quite cheerful really, which was good. I wondered what was going through her mind though. I spent some time playing and doing some crafts with her and her brother in Saidu’s room. It was nice to have some quality time. I also ended up doing a consultation for an aunty. She had been unwell for a few days. I had come prepared with a stethoscope and some medications for children, but had not expected to see an adult. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do. For the rest I spent time playing with children, went around the village with an aunty to meet ‘everyone’, watched the end of a football match in the ‘cinema’ with Osman and Saidu, waited while the aunty bought fish from the fishermen on the beach, had some coconuts, etc. I didn’t want to take many pictures because this visit seemed a bit different, however, the children kept asking, so just before leaving, I took out my camera. They loved it.
I have to say it wasn’t an easy trip. It was tiring. I fell asleep on the ferry back to Freetown. But it was a good trip. It was the perfect time for me to visit Namina and her family again. And I was worried for no reason. Everything went as planned. Besides a few awkward moments (being stared at by like 20+ people) it was a perfect day.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 10:46 PM
Tuesday, September the 13th started off like any other day. Before leaving the flat, I went to the balcony to watch the sunrise. It was pretty amazing. I then headed down to the office on spur road where we park our vehicle. Our driver was slightly delayed due to transport issues, but came soon enough. After a 30-minute journey to the hospital, I started work. Work mostly consisted of firefighting; little issues here and there. And I spent a good portion of the day trying to resolve a conflict between various staff members.
Then I received a phone call. It was from Saidu, Namina’s brother. I thought they were probably just calling to say hello. But no, this time it was different. Saidu called to tell me some bad news. The line was not good and I had to have him repeat the message a few times. I don’t know if it was the connection or if I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Saidu was telling me that his little brother Ibrahim died that morning. Silence.
I didn’t know what to say. Osh ya, the Krio phrase for ‘sorry’ is all I could think of. I wanted to speak to Wara, Namina’s mom but she was too distraught. Saidu asked if I could come to the funeral but it was to take place in just a few hours. There was no way I could get to Bailor town on time. I had to say no. Instead, I said I would meet them on Saturday. I still found it hard to believe that Ibrahim was no longer with them. Just two weeks earlier he had been in my office with Wara and Namina, looking like a healthy one-year old. They had just come to visit.
It sounded like Ibrahim had been sick for just two days. Enough I guess to cost him his life. My guess is malaria. His symptoms were fever and paleness. They took him to a ‘hospital’ and he received a couple of injections. That’s all Saidu told me at that time. I knew Ibrahim had not received appropriate treatment and I wished they had come to Freetown. After all the times they had come just to visit, this would have been the crucial time to come. If only.
I know I work at a place where death is a daily occurrence but when it's a little child you know and have come to care for, it hits home a little harder. When you see the pain the family is going through, it is all so much sadder. I can’t change what happened. I can only continue to support this family. And that’s what I did when I went to Bailor town just a few days after Ibrahim’s death. And that is what I will continue to do.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:54 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:51 PM
Here I am at Bliss. And, thankfully, internet is working. And it's fast. It's funny how easily we take things like internet for granted at home. Not having internet at home has been a bit of a challenge. To be honest, I've gotten used to it. But, having said that, it has meant that I have not kept in touch with family and friends much. And, it makes it hard (very expensive) to actually talk to people back home. I have to admit I have done poorly on the blogging front lately. I have so many things I could write about. Soon, soon. Hopefully at some point, we may have internet at home. We do have a usb dongle, which usually works for my colleagues, but it doesn't seem to like my mac. It tends to freeze my computer every time I try to use it. Sometimes it lets me use the internet for twenty minutes or so, but usually it cuts me off before that. All this to say, I am happy to finally have access to fast internet! And I may come here more often. The desserts are definitely a pull as well!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:51 PM
Saturday, September 24, 2011
"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized."
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:16 PM
Friday, September 23, 2011
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:39 AM
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:10 PM