Friday, July 29, 2011

At the airport...

I'm at Denver airport, waiting to board a plane to Dallas. Yay for free wi-fi. After a three hour lay-over at DFW I'll be boarding another plane to London. Nine hours later I'll arrive at Heathrow and make my way to the underground. Three underground trains later I should be at Emily's house, where we'll be having the Welbodi Board meeting. I'm ready for a bit of work, and then excited about another week of holiday, in Holland.

My time in Colorado was great. It was fun to spend time with family. My niece and nephew are both adorable. I had a lot of cuddle time with Finley and lots of play time with Porter. Favorites were playing airplanes in the backyard (Porter's planes on the left, mine on the right), running away from the wormies that were trying to catch us, catching Porter, playing soccer, collecting bugs and racing cars. The trip to the zoo yesterday was a lot of fun too, as was our 'hike' to Boulder falls. As always, it was sad saying goodbye...I think the little kids make it harder for all of us! And the fact that none of us know exactly when we'll see each other again. In a month's time we'll be spread out over 4 countries again: Netherlands, USA, Haiti and Sierra Leone. I love what I do, but this is definitely one of those sacrifices that is difficult to make. Let's just say I'll focus on the time spent in Colorado and look forward to the week in Holland with more family.

See you on the other side of the pond...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ola During Children's Hospital...

Photos taken with permission from the caregivers.
Happy to say that Okon, Kumba and others are well and discharged home.
Copyright 2011 Sandra Lako

A tennis promo video...

I was tipped off by a friend today that I'm on a new Mercy Ships Tennis Promo video which will apparently be aired in Switzerland. Thanks to speedy wi fi at Lungi airport I watched the clip and sure enough 21 seconds in there I am. Footage from 2006 I believe, but it is me in Sierra Leone. I was working in the outpatient clinic in Aberdeen at the time. Anyway, for those interested you can watch it at:

36 hours to go...

The 36 hours have begun. I can't say I am excited about the actual traveling that will take me to my family but hey, it's the only option and they are well worth it. At least there are some good things about the travel.

Good news: There is free wi-fi at Lungi Airport! Granted it's a little slow, but I can't complain as even schiphol doesn't offer free internet.

Bad news: I've already spent an hour waiting at the water taxi 'terminal' and two hours at the airport prior to check-in. I have another hour to wait before I can check in and then another 5 hours before boarding.

Good news: There's food upstairs. I'm looking forward to dinner from the Lungi restaurant. I think I'm that hungry. And, I am sure it will be better than pot noodles (Ramen noodles) which seems to have become my staple diet over the past few weeks. I know, I know, that's not going to help my hemoglobin any. But, it's quick, fast, cheap and pretty tasty.

Bad news: The flight will be really full (but at least I'll be on it). Hopefully I'll sleep a bit.

Good news: Although I have a long lay-over in Heathrow (5+ hours) at least I can do some shopping. I'm looking forward to browsing in book shops, eating some yummy chocolate and drinking some milk!

Bad news: I then have another 2 flights to go including another 4 hour lay-over in Chicago. Oh, the joys of traveling.

Good news: Once I arrive in Denver, I'll be picked up by my brother and on my way to re-unite with Genae and Porter and meet my niece Finley. I am very excited about that.

So, 36 hours to go...but in true Salone style, I'll manage! Right now I am sitting with two travel mates in the cafe while my small suitcase is left unattended in the middle of the hall. It's saving my spot in the line. I should be within the first ten to check in! I will be on that flight. In the meantime, I'm finally going to catch up on blogging. You can expect some more posts over the next few weeks.

36 hours past...

The past 36 hours have been rather crazy. Yesterday I ran a lot of errands and made good use of my driver! I think he enjoyed a day’s worth of driving. I started at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation at 8 am to pick up some letters. I was hoping to deliver the letters, but most offices were still closed so I headed out. First stop, the Electricity House, to buy more credit for our NPA (national power authority) meter. Then I went to the bank to cash a check. After that I went to the Sierra Tel office to extend our Internet dongle services. And then I went to a shop in town to check on an order of plastic buckets with built in taps, which will go to the wards in the hospital. They weren’t ready yet.

The next 5 hours were spent at the hospital, doing what I usually do, which ends up being a bit of everything. At 3:30 pm I left the hospital and headed to a meeting. I have a wonderful meeting with one of the senior pediatricians in town. What a humble and gracious man. If only there were more people with such dedication. I then made the trek back to the Ministry and met up separately with the deputy chief nursing officer, the director of hospitals and the director of reproductive and child health. They were all brief but good meetings. Sometimes it’s just good to have a bit of an informal catch up! I then backtracked to Connaught Hospital to meet with a radiographer there concerning the radiography-training program that we are trying to get off the ground. The good news is that funding is nearby and the project might actually be underway in the next two months. Great!

After Connaught we drove to Aberdeen to check the times for the water taxi. I heard earlier in the day that BMI downsized their plane and not everyone can get on the flight today. So, it sounds like instead of the 7 pm water taxi I will have to take the 2 pm water taxi. The flight is not until 11 pm so that means a LONG wait in Lungi. Oh well. Right now, I just want to make sure I’m on the flight. From the water taxi I went to the Women’s Centre to pick up a power adapter for my Mac book. Yeah, means I can use my computer during the long journey to the USA! I reached home at about 630 pm, in time to head out again at 730 pm to meet good friends at Mamba Point. It was a fun yet slightly sad occasion as it was the last time that Mikey, Shona and I will be together in SL. They’re both leaving while I’m away. They’ll be missed.

After a great meal out I came home to do some packing, cleaning and finish up some work. By 130 am I thought it was time to get some sleep before being woken up by my alarm clock at 620 am. Wednesday was going to be another long day, marking the start of a probably 36-hour journey.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Welbodi Quiz Night...

Come and support Welbodi Partnership at a quiz night at IMATT on the 15th of July starting at 7pm.

The cost is Le 50,000 for dinner and the quiz (drinks available for purchase).

Come and enjoy the IMATT experience and support Welbodi Partnership.

Money raised during the night will be invested by Welbodi Partnership, in collaboration with hospital management, in projects at the only Children's Hospital in Sierra Leone with the aim to improve paediatric care.

Come and enjoy a fun night out! Rain or no rain, we'll be there.

Please RSVP by Monday! (yes, this means you have to commit - but it's for a good cause!). Drop me a line, e-mail, facebook message, send a text, whatever. Just make sure your name is on the list by Monday.

See you there!

For more information about Welbodi Partnership go to: or visit our blog at:

Busy Welbodi...

The past 2 weeks have been really busy. They have flown by. One of our directors was here last week and we kept ourselves occupied! We met the American Ambassador, met the Minister of Health, held team meetings, discussed a number of issues etc. It was a very productive week. This week we've kept up the momentum. We have a team of lab experts who have come from the UK and the Gambia to train the national lab staff at the Children's Hospital. We're in the process of purchasing a new Welbodi car that can seat 7. The reconstruction of the Special Care Baby Unit is slowly getting started. We're preparing for a Welbodi Quiz night up at IMATT as a fundraiser. And we have some special visitors coming in tomorrow for a few days. More on that later! It's encouraging to see so many things happen. Of course, there is still a lot that needs to be done but every step forward brings us closer to our goal of delivering high quality paediatric care to the children of Sierra Leone. Let's keep going...

Lab training...
Getting ready for the reconstruction of this ward into the Special Care Baby Unit!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Starbucks in Africa...

YEAH! I finally managed to get Becky and Fred on the ship for Starbucks. Just over a week ago now, the three of us and a VSO friend headed across town to pay a visit to some of my friends on the ship and to enjoy some of the luxuries (in our eyes!). We had dinner in the canteen (spaghetti with meat in the sauce!) and then hurried off on the tour. I know to the crew, a tour is not so exciting, but to us Freetowners, the ship is amazing. Normal things have become luxuries to us. Television, internet, meals cooked for you, automatic hand sanitizers on the walls, washing machines and dryers, air conditioning (some rooms are like freezers!), hoover back-packs, a lovely library (with an amazing couch), swings on the deck, a kitchen for the crew with 6 ovens, multiple kitchen aids (!), a state of the art hospital, a functioning x-ray machine, a well-equipped lab, a list of blood donors, a snack bar and last but not least - Starbucks! We finished the tour just in time for the evening meeting after which we quickly moved towards the Starbucks. Finally! It took me 4 months to get Becky there! But I did it. And we enjoyed. I'm not much of a coffee drinker myself, but I do enjoy the occasional flavored coffee and definitely enjoy a mint hot chocolate. Good times. Thanks Allison and Maggie for hosting!! I owe you one. The funniest part was probably the Ghurka chasing us off of the ship. All fun and games.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~