Sunday, April 22, 2012

Petrol Crisis strikes Freetown again...

There's a petrol crisis, again. This means long queues all over the city of taxis and private vehicles waiting for petrol. Waiting in line, not knowing when the petrol station will actually start selling again. It means that transport is scarce, but the roads are of course relatively traffic free, so if you manage to get transport, you won't have to sit through quite as much traffic.

Word on the street is that a shipment is coming next week. We'll see. Others say the business markets wants to up the price of petrol, but the government won't allow it. Right now the cost is 4,500 Leones for a liter, or 7,000 Leones in the black market as I found out today.

I had to come into the hospital today and wasn't sure how I would get there. When I approached the roundabout I met up with a taxi driver. This is what happened:

Taxi driver: Congo Cross, Congo Cross [his destination]
Me: I need to go to Cottage [Cottage is what the locals call the Children's Hospital as well as Maternity Hospital]
Taxi driver: Give me Forty Thousand
Me: I'll give you Twenty-Five Thousand [we usually pay between Twenty and Thirty Thousand for a chartered taxi to the hospital]
Taxi driver: Make it Thirty Five
Me: Thirty
Taxi Driver: Ok, get in.
Me: Do you have enough petrol?
Taxi Driver: Yes
Me: Are you sure you have enough to get to Cottage?
Taxi Driver: Yes
Me: Let's go

I get in the taxi and off we go. I'm feeling very fortunate. We have a conversation about the petrol crisis and Independence celebrations.

Twenty minutes later. We reached Goderich street. Half-way there. The car starts jerking. The driver pulls over.

Taxi Driver: The petrol is done
Me: What, you said you had enough petrol
Taxi Driver: The petrol is less
Me: Okay, here's Ten Thousand
Taxi Driver: We said Thirty Thousand
Me: I know, but that was to Cottage and now I have to walk
Taxi Driver: Give me Twenty
Me: No
Taxi Driver: Give me Twenty and I'll find you another taxi [I knew there taxis were scarce]
Me: No, here's Ten Thousand, I'll walk the rest of the day.

And off I went on my 30 minute walk to the hospital under the hot-burning sun (as they say here!) That is my first-hand experience of the petrol crisis.

I'm now waiting to be picked up. Osman is on his way. Unfortunately he waited in line for about 4 hours at a petrol station and they never started selling. He ended up buying 4 liters off of friends at the steep price of 7,000 Leones per liter. Oh Salone.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Clinic & Community - 7 years and counting...

It's the 19th of April 2012. Seven years ago I was rejoicing because the Aberdeen community finally agreed to an outpatient clinic for children. You see, I came to Sierra Leone to set up a clinic at the fistula centre. The purpose of the clinic was to serve the Aberdeen community seeing as they would have little direct benefit from the fistula centre. The community was hoping for a general hospital but that was not something we could provide. Within a few weeks of arriving I realized the dire state of child health in the country and decided that a paediatric clinic was a good way to get started. Start small, I thought. The community wasn't so sure. A number of adults were unhappy that they would not have a place to go for their medical treatment. However, after various meetings they understood the benefits of a paediatric clinic and agreed that their was very little available to their children in the way of healthcare. So, the outpatient clinic for children began and little did I know how busy it would be.

To this day the clinic still runs as an outpatient paediatric clinic seeing an average of a thousand children a month. The staff are dedicated and hard working. They have recently started an outpatient supplementary feeding program, something which we had talked about for a while, but never really happened. It is great to see how the clinic has grown over the years, and amazing to be a part of that.

He's a blurb from my blog 7 years ago...

Good news...
Last week we met with the representatives from the community we’re working in as well as with other stakeholders, and it seems as though things are moving forward.

We all managed to come to an agreement and the community has accepted the scope of our services. I was able to explain what we could provide in the out patient clinic (starting small- a clinic for children 12 years and under, also providing vaccinations and growth monitoring, and a focus on prevention- including health education, possibly provision of bed nets etc.). Those present seemed pleased. They also seem to understand that we are limited in what we can offer…as far as beds/ambulance etc. are concerned, due to limited funds, staff, expertise and equipment. At a dinner party the next night we were able to talk with each other some more and I think that a foundation has been laid and we can starting building a relationship with those involved.

It looks like we will start surgery and begin seeing patients in the clinic around April 26th..

The last few weeks haven’t been easy, but in the end ‘all things work together for good’. And we are seeing good things come out of this situation. Thanks for your support and encouragement during this time!


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