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."

Hebrews 6:10-11

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rainy Friday...

Rainy season hasn't ended yet. A lot of people seem to think it should have been done in September, but I always remember it to have rained in September. It's not over yet. To be honest, the rains haven't even been too bad this year so maybe it will be a bit more drawn out than usual.

This morning I left the house at 645 am to meet up with my driver to handover the car key. He needed to go and pick someone up. Off I went, raincoat on and umbrella in hand. I reached the office by 7 am and fortunately the driver appeared a few minutes after I did!

So, I am now at the Spur Road office, using the internet and writing a few documents while waiting for an 8 am meeting. After that, it's errands in town (getting colleagues registered, visas sorted, etc) and last but not least, the hospital. I have to say I'm happy it's Friday. I do have some work to do this weekend...and an Enable the Children Board meeting, but it'll be nice not to have to wake up early and sit in an office all day! And, maybe I'll find some time to blog about my Engineering experience, my trip to Bailor town, the community survey etc.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hope for Sierra Leone...

I was pleased to catch a glimpse of the sunrise yesterday. It was a good reminder of the beautiful world we live in. I have to say the last few weeks have been tough. And in tough times in can be hard to see the beauty in anything. Yes, there have been good times, but there have been a lot of difficult and challenging times. Children dying unnecessarily. Colleagues refusing to work together. Lack of motivation for people to do their work. Working in a healthcare system that just does not function as it should. We are trying, but it's not easy. At times it is hard to discern whether or not we are making a difference. However, I am not going to give up. I have invested far too much to give up now! Despite the difficulties, I do love this place and the people and know that with time things will continue to improve. I know that in the middle of the suffering and injustice that takes place, there is still hope. Hope for a better place. Hope for a brighter future. Hope for the children of Sierra Leone. Here's to HOPE.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A hectic Tuesday...

Whereas yesterday was nice and quiet, and very productive, today was very noisy and hectic. Yes, I was at the hospital again and even though our new office is further removed from the wards, people still come in and out. That is of course absolutely fine, but just means it’s hard to get a lot done.

First of all, I sent our driver to town to buy some NPA (national power) credit and find out our bank balance. Then a colleague came to create and discuss his work plan. During our meeting a lab technician came to report that the hemocue is reading an error. I took the opportunity to teach him how to dismantle and clean it. Then someone from Mercy Ships called about a team of engineers arriving today to do a full assessment of the hospital’s infrastructure. After my meeting I went to Special Care to check on progress there. The work seems to be completed. There are 14 beds for the mothers and they seem very happy. Unfortunately in the neonatal bit, I only saw 2 nurses instead of 6, which meant a trip up to matron’s office to find out what is going on. I then returned to the office to do some printing for a survey we’re conducting. After that I met with the head of the hospital to talk about a few of the SLICH projects that have been delayed. I am not sure if we actually came to any conclusions! From there I went to the head of maintenance to let him know that the engineers are arriving today. On my way, I found a father in tears, who had thrown himself to the ground. He just lost his child. Soon the mother came out and in floods of tears they tried to console each other. I had to try hard to fight back the tears. I then went up to ER and ICU to see how things were. ER was so full and only a house officer; a few medical students, a few nurses and many student nurses could be seen. I am not sure how they will cope today. ICU was a bit calmer, but still there were some very sick children there. I wanted the nurses to check a blood sugar but they told me the glucose strips are done. I asked for them to go and get a new supply. From there I went back to the office. It’s not even noon yet. There’s still a lot to do.

The afternoon ended up being a primarily clinical afternoon, which is sometimes welcome, but definitely not something I planned for today. I was passing through the ER and overhead a conversation about a patient. Meanwhile I noticed that said patient was gasping and so started ventilating with a bag and mask while others were deciding on a plan for fluids. After 40 minutes of ventilating we were a bit stuck: there was still a heart beat but the pupils were fixed and dilated, telling us that the brain has been starved of oxygen and continuing was futile. After another five minutes of bagging, we stopped and within a minute the heart stopped beating. I explained to the mom what had just happened and watched as tears streamed down her face. I was ready to get out, but two more admissions showed up, and no one else was around. While stabilizing the first one, one of my colleagues walked in. I left soon afterwards; back to the office. Later in the afternoon I had to go back to Special Care to see how many nurses were on late shift and walked right in on resuscitation. I helped where I could. Unfortunately it was another failed attempt.

On my way back to the office at 4 pm I ran into the Engineering team. It was good to chat with them a bit and attempt to explain the complicated water system we have here at the hospital! It’s taken Welbodi 3 years to try and figure it out, so hopefully they’ll be much more successful in the week they’re spending here. I’m looking forward to the recommendations they’ll make. Just after 5, we decided to head home. Another day come and gone. Lots done, but very little crossed off of my to-do list! C’est la vie…

Monday, September 05, 2011

A quieter Monday...

I think today might have been the first time that I waved my colleagues off to the hospital and stayed behind at the Spur Road office on the West side of town. I realized that in order to move forward with Comic Relief, I would need to spend a good chunk of uninterrupted time on it and for today that meant staying away from the clinical world and hiding from the many people that come in and out of the office at the hospital.

So, at 7 am I started work in the office and it was nice and quiet until about 11 am when some others arrived. Fortunately everyone did his or her own thing and my productivity level remained at a high. Internet then cut out, which was annoying, but not a surprise and to be honest, didn’t effect what I was doing anyway. Oh, except for the fact that I was supposed to have a Skype call with one of the Welbodi Director’s. She ended up having to call my phone for a good hour and a half conversation about Comic Relief.

After the Comic Relief call I got a taxi to Connaught Hospital to meet with a radiographer about the ongoing need for a radiology facility at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, little progress had been made in the past month or two and our hands are kind of tied. It gave us the opportunity to call up some people in the Ministry to see where they are at with things. Let’s hope there’s progress soon. I was then able to catch my colleagues in the Welbodi car on the way home, which was convenient. And I headed back to the Spur Road office to finish up some work. I was hoping to download a number of documents from googledocs onto my computer, but of course, as soon as I started with the first document, Internet cut out. Go figure. By that time it was 6:30 pm. Time to call it a night!

I spent the evening cooking pasta and pesto, talking to my mom and watching an episode of ER with my colleague. It was in the end a productive day, and I’d say it’s probably worth repeating a day at the Spur Road office in the near future. But tomorrow, it’s back to Ola During...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Another Sunday Summary...

Today was a good day. Actually, this weekend was a good weekend. The fact that I hardly did any work probably helped, although I did spend a fair amount of time getting the car sorted. At least a friend did most of the work and we had fun chatting while getting the job done.

Saturday afternoon I went to a bridal shower for a friend who is traveling home to get married. It was good fun and it was a special time with some long-term friends here. Fortunately it wasn’t a goodbye since she will come back with her husband-to-be in January. Yay.

Sunday school today was amazing. For the first time we split the children into three classes: 2-5 years, 6-10 years and above 10 years. Georgiana and I will be teaching the 6-10 years olds and I have to say, what a brilliant class. I taught them for the first time today and I have to say it was very pleasant teaching a group of children that listened and joined in. Up until now I taught the 2-8 year olds, and that was just too big of an age difference. The small children rarely sat still throughout the class, and every 5 minutes another child was asking to be excused to go pee or get a drink of water. It was nice not to have so many distractions today! We are a bit further away from the church, which means less noise and distractions, and we meet on a big soccer field, which means more space to play! I led them around the field with their eyes closed as we made our way through an obstacle course of chairs. We then had an interactive talk about trusting God and others. It was great. We then did a craft and seeing as we had no idea how the service was progressing, we ended up playing games until we realized people were walking up the road meaning church was out. The kids taught me how to play a Sierra Leonean game called ‘Basket’ which involved quite a lot of jumping. I might need to alter my church attire when teaching Sunday school! Anyway, I am excited about this new class and the potential to teach these children. Plus I think we’ll have a lot of fun too.

After church I walked to a junction about 20 minutes away and met up with a friend and taxi driver Farah. His taxi is in the garage, but he said he’d walk with me up to the next junction where I had arranged to meet Alusine, the Welbodi driver. So, Farah, his son Michael and I trekked up the hill and met up with Alusine about 10 minutes later. We then continued with the 4 of us for another 20 minutes or so down a rocky road to Alusine’s house, a pan body. Much to my surprise, Alusine’s son Momoh ran up to me when I arrived. I was surprised because up until today he had been afraid of me! Maybe the fact that he knew I was bringing him a little toy car helped. It was fun to spend some time with them. I even drank some ‘atya’, which is actually green Chinese gunpowder tea with quite a bit of sugar added to it. I hear that some people even add marijuana to it but was assured this tea had no additives! After another two hours of sitting and chatting about Islam, gardening, and school for the children, etc, it was time to set out. We ended up climbing the hill up to SS Camp, which was a good 20 minutes climb up a rocky path. This is a walk that Alusine makes every morning in order to get a taxi to meet us in Wilberforce where the car is parked. After reaching the top, I said farewell and hopped in a taxi down to Wilberforce.

After a few hours at home, I again got in a taxi and headed to Aberdeen for the monthly international service. It was a nice service followed by a good potluck dinner. And now, it’s 10 pm and I am ready for bed. I have to be up at 6:20 am.

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