Friday, November 22, 2013

The Annual Medical Conference...

From the 13th-15th of November the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association held their 39th Annual Congress and Scientific Meeting. This years theme was: “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Sierra Leone: A Critical Look at the Health Workforce”. I attended the event which allowed me to network with other doctors in the country as well as listen to the various scientific sessions about research being done in Sierra Leone at this time. During the opening ceremony the Minister of Health highlighted the fact that there are very few specialists in the public sector; for example there are only two Sierra Leonean paediatricians in government service. The Minister said that much work lies ahead to address the problems in the health sector and the next phase in the journey has just begun. She stated: “we now have an opportunity to adequately address the human resource crisis by actively pursuing accreditation and continuing to support students overseas”. Currently 8 Sierra Leonean doctors are pursuing their postgraduate training in paediatrics in West, East and South Africa. Hopefully by the end of 2014 some of them will be ready to return back to Sierra Leone to support training in country. The need for in-country postgraduate training was highlighted once again, which is something Welbodi has been focusing on over the years. Hopefully with support from the Ministry of Health, tertiary hospital staff and NGOs, in-country postgraduate training will become a reality in 2014.

Monday, September 02, 2013

No name for 2 weeks...

Coming from a background where parents often name their child before he/she is even born, it still comes as a surprise to me at times that in Sierra Leone children are not named at birth. 

Traditionally in Sierra Leone when a child is born they are not given a name. Generally, once a child is a week old, there is a 'pull na door' ceremony. Literally this is when the child is 'pulled out of the door' or brought out of the house to be presented to the family/community members. At this time, the child's name is announced. This is otherwise known as a naming ceremony.

I've been thinking about it and I think part of the reason is because in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, people just aren't sure if their child will be 'lucky' enough to make it through the first week. So people are cautious, and once the child has made it through that first week, the families are confident to give the child a name. I think that naming a child makes everything more real - their is ownership, relationship, a sense of belonging.

Today I saw a new cleft lip/palate patient. She is two weeks old and the parents have not named her. Why? Because of her birth defect. They are not sure what to do with the child. I wonder if they are questioning whether or not the child will survive, or if they are trying to distance themselves from the child. Maybe for as long as the child does not have a name, she doesn't seem real, she's not a part of their lives and they do not need to love her. It's sad. I don't know why this happens. 

So what did I do? I encouraged the family that this child's problem can be solved. She is not a devil child. It is not the mother's or father's fault. God made this little girl and what she needs is a lot of milk, love and affection. I suggested naming her because I think that by giving her a name, her mother will realize that she is a very real little human being that needs to be loved and cared for. By giving her a name maybe they will realize she is theirs and that they need to do their best to make sure this child survives. Maybe by giving this child a name her chances of survival will increase because she will start receiving the care that she needs. I hope the parents will discuss it. The grandmother on the other hand is very willing to give the child her own name. You have to love grandmothers!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Note to self: I'm doing this for the children...

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. 
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. 
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
~Mother Teresa

I am thankful to a friend for sending me this quote today. This weekend has not been easy since a few people have treated me unfairly and have been negative about my work. Unfortunately this all happened through email correspondence. Thankfully, most people are happy with what I am doing in the hospital and that is what I can hold onto. More importantly, as Mother Teresa says, it's between me and God. I am not here to please people, I am doing this work for Him. As long as I know I am making life better for the vulnerable children in Sierra Leone, I know I should continue this work. That is what I have been called to do and I will not let people bring me down. I want to work as a team and I'm not in this to make a name for myself. I really do want to see child health improve in Sierra Leone. 

I'm very thankful for an amazing team and friends here in Sierra Leone and elsewhere and family - Osman, Heleen, Margaret, Kate, Dickya, Anna, Matthew, Toyin, Tom, Suzanne, mom and dad - thank you so much for your support and encouragement! I couldn't do this without people like you backing me up. Here's to doing more work at the Children's Hospital, to make it a better place.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Goodies and Breast Pumps...

I know, I know, it's only July, but when people come with so many gifts, it feels a little like Christmas. Friends of mine who used to live here sent me an email a few weeks ago  to let me know they were coming and  did I need them to bring anything. Well, I knew I needed a bunch of C batteries for the otoscopes at the hospital and I always 'need' chocolate. Slowly the list grew. I actually forgot what I requested and was thrilled to see the goodies - M&Ms, granola bars (including chocolate chip), chocolate chips, hot chocolate, smoked almonds, baking pans and tortillas. Awesome. And then of course, the peptobismol tablets which are useful here when stomachs can get a bit dodgy, and yes, a breast pump - two actually. 

A breast pump is probably the most bizarre thing I have requested and it might be even more bizarre that I'm pretty excited about it. Do you know why? It means that Kumba can now use a pump to express breast milk in order to feed her 11 day old baby girl who was born with a cleft lip and palate. This will make Kumba's daily life a bit easier and hopefully it means that this little girl will be exclusively breast fed so that she will be strong for surgery in about 6 months time. Kumba is dedicated already and I am happy to be able to make things a little easier for her. It's tough enough in Sierra Leone to be mothering a baby with a deformity so any help is welcome. Thanks Marty for bringing this out for Kumba! Here's to the growth of her little one and more zeal for Kumba.

Willing & Abel Medical Board...

I accepted the invitation to be on the Willing and Abel Medical Board. I will be one of a team of medics who will review potential cases from various countries for surgery and make medical recommendations to the W&A trustees. I'm excited to be a part of W&A more formally and to continue helping children in developing countries who require specialist surgery. I see a number of children at the hospital that struggle to get the surgery they need and it's great to know that W&A can help. 

Children that I have helped with the assistance of W&A to date are children like Namina (cancrum oris, needing multiple reconstructive surgeries on the Mercy Ship), Junior (cleft lip and palate) and some of the hydrocephalus cases I sent to Guinea for shunting. Up until now, I've been able to take most of the children to the Africa Mercy for surgery and so the costs have mainly been related to border crossings, documentation for the vehicle, transport costs, food, etc. With the Africa Mercy going to Congo for the next outreach, I may need to look at other options. Praying that God will direct. Junior will need a palate repair towards the end of the year/early next year and I have two new cleft lip/palate cases needing surgery.

I'm pleased to know Abi, who founded W&A, and also Benita, one of the trustees who was in Sierra Leone for a year. It's fun to be collaborating more with friends and helping children at the same time! For more information about Willing and Abel go to:

In the meantime things remain busy with my Welbodi Partnership work at the Children's Hospital and I'm still on the Enable the Children Board of Trustees. Enough to do!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Give the gift of life: donate blood...

Friday was World Blood Donor Day. My first few years at the Children's Hospital, I was donating a unit of blood every four months. However, for my own health, I'm no longer able to donate. I was a bit sad about that this past Friday but even though I couldn't donate, I was still given a t-shirt by the blood bank guys as an 'honorary donor' :) Even though I can't donate, and even though the Blood Donor Day has passed, I'd encourage you all to donate. If you're in Freetown, and would like to be donate, contact me and we can arrange that. Your blood can save a child's life at the Children's Hospital. I'll buy you a coke after you donate to help replace some of your losses!

Did you know that there are 107 million blood donations per year and that 65% of blood transfusions in low-income countries are given to children under five years of age.

"12 June 2013 -- World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on 14 June every year, serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood. With the slogan "Give the gift of life: donate blood", this year’s campaign, the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day, will focus on the value of donated blood to the patient, not only in saving life, but also in helping people live longer and more productive lives."

Monday, June 10, 2013

BMJ post about x-ray machines and emergency measures...

Today marks three years of working for Welbodi Partnership and it’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by. The last time I blogged, I wrote about getting more involved clinically. Well, that spell ended rather quickly, and before I knew it I was back to managing various projects.
Managing projects might sound a little boring, but really it’s quite exciting especially when I can be involved with big stuff that will make a huge difference. The fact that the projects I am working on will eventually save the lives of children in Sierra Leone excites me and keeps me going.
I am especially proud of three of the projects I have been working on over the past year: the x-ray project, setting up the side laboratory near the Emergency Room, and the accreditation process through the West African College of Physicians. All of these projects are works in progress, but they will in due time transform the Children’s Hospital.
I’ll write more about each of these projects in separate posts but here are a few thoughts on why I love these projects:
Imagine a digital x-ray machine arriving at a hospital where x-rays haven’t been taken for over 9 years and in a country where digital imaging is still very rare.
Imagine that your child is unconscious and doctors are now able to do a rapid test for malaria in the side laboratory and start your child on antimalarial treatment promptly to save your child’s life.
Imagine three x-ray technicians excited about their employment at a government hospital and being some of the only technicians in the country to work with a digital x-ray machine.
Imagine a medical student graduating from medical school knowing that in-country postgraduate training will soon be a reality at the Children’s Hospital and they won’t need to go abroad for further training.
Imagine if you are the mom of a very sick child and instead of needing to trek across town with your sick baby for an x-ray, you can get an x-ray done on the same compound very close to the ward.
Imagine the excitement when each of these projects comes to completion! I’m thankful to be a part of the Welbodi Partnership team and that we are able to accomplish so much and improve the Children’s Hospital by working alongside hospital staff and our colleagues in the Ministry of Health.
Here’s to the next three years.
Sandra Lako is a doctor from the Netherlands who previously spent four and a half years in Sierra Leone setting up and managing a paediatric outpatient clinic with an organisation called Mercy Ships. After a year at home, she returned to Sierra Leone to volunteer as medical coordinator with the Welbodi Partnership, a UK based charity supporting the only government run children’s hospital in a country where one in five children do not reach the age of five.

Friday, June 07, 2013

3 years with Welbodi Partnership...

Three years ago today I returned to Sierra Leone, after a short break post Aberdeen outpatient clinic work, to work with Welbodi Partnership at the Ola During Children's Hospital. Wow, how time has flown. It sure has been a rollercoaster ride. 

It's amazing to look back and see how much has been accomplished - a backup generator, 24-7 water supply, more oxygen concentrators, a renovated special care baby unit, a medical records department that has been reorganized, on-call rooms for doctors, fun paintings on the walls in the wards, a side laboratory near the Emergency Room, a new treatment chart, new phototherapy units built in-country, specialist clinic room, a soon to be functioning x-ray department, the first ever paediatric symposium in Sierra Leone and so much more. 

All of this was accomplished due to the excellent people working with Welbodi over the past few years and Welbodi's close interactions with both the hospital staff, other partners and the Ministry of Health. I'm proud to be a part of Welbodi and a part of the transformation of the Children's Hospital. Someday it will be a 'center of excellence'. 

Here's to the next x years... 

Here are some posts from when I first joined Welbodi in 2010:
June 8th 2010 - first 24 hours back in Freetown
Post on June 22nd 2010 - first experiences in the ODCH emergency room
July 1st 2010 - return to Freetown

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Countdown: 2 days till accreditation...

Two days to go until the official accreditation visit at the Ola During Children's Hospital. The last few weeks/months have been extremely busy in preparing for this visit. A team of three fellows from the West African College of Physicians arrive tomorrow to conduct the official visit on Monday and Tuesday. This is an exciting time. Accreditation of the hospital means that we can start training doctors in a postgraduate paediatric residency training programme!

The last few weeks have been busy with a variety of activities from setting up side laboratories to making sure bed nets are hung properly to fixing lights on the wards to getting cupboards made for the rehydration corner. It's been a productive time and we're hoping for success. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Conakry to Freetown...

After my trip upcountry I headed back to the ship in Conakry to pick up Junior. Now 6 days post op, he was ready to go back to Freetown. Os and I were at the ship early in the morning and warmly welcome by my great friend, Allison. Junior and his dad then came and joined us in the car, and the four of us made our way back to Freetown. We had a good journey back and it was fun that some of the border police remembered Junior from our crossing to Guinea and were very pleased to see the result of the surgery. Late Monday afternoon we dropped Junior off at the orphanage and I headed home. It was a successful trip to Guinea for sure!

Trip upcountry in Guinea...

A while back, when I knew accreditation of the hospital would take place in April, I decided I would need a week off to recover. Well, of course the accreditation date changed to May, but I wasn't going to change my plans. The main reason not to change my plans was because of Junior's surgery. So, the trip went ahead and I spent three days in Conakry on the ship and was able to watch Junior's surgery. Then early Wednesday morning Osman and I got in the car and made the 8 hour journey to his parents' village (where I went last November as well). It was great to see his family again. His three brothers were already there - they have been working on building a house for his parents (which Os has been saving money for and still is...). It was nice to be away from the city. There were mangos, avocados and oranges everywhere. It was great to be able to sit and eat the fruit right off of the trees. Delicious. We spent a lot of time chatting and discussing the house, and watching a television series in the evening. Of course, the usual visits to Os' family were made - sometimes I joined, sometimes I stayed behind. It was a great break. After three days in the village we headed back to Conakry to pick up Junior!

Surgery don don...

On Tuesday, May 14th, Junior underwent a successful cleft lip surgery! Praise God for that. And it was amazing to be a part of that. Firstly because I have known him since his birth and been involved in his life since then, secondly to be in the operating room with Dr. Gary Parker, who is a real inspiration to me and many others. It was great to be with my friend Allison as well! Once Junior woke up in recovery, his dad came in to see him. He was very pleased. I was then able to feed Junior. He hadn't eaten since early morning (his surgery ended up being at about 2:30pm) and so he was pretty hungry. He fed so much better with his repaired lip! God definitely has a plan for this little guy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Waiting for surgery on the Africa Mercy...

Ibrahim, myself and Junior on the deck, the evening before surgery
Today is a big day for little Junior, his dad, Ibrahim, and myself. Since the day I met Junior, on his birthday on the 26th of November 2012, I have been looking forward to the day he could have surgery. Today is that day.

The past 5 1/2 months have not been easy for Junior and his dad. They have both been through a lot and it's been amazing to see how God has kept Junior safe and surrounded him with people who care. I am privileged to be a part of that.

On Sunday morning Osman and I picked Junior up from the orphanage at 6:45 am. We then drove to the East side of town to pick up his father, Ibrahim, who really wanted to be the one to make this journey with his son and take care of him. So, the four of us made the 7 hour journey from Freetown to Conakry. Thanks to Osman's good driving skills and ability to negotiate with the officers at the numerous checkpoints, we made it to the Africa Mercy in the afternoon. Junior was soon settled on C ward, ready for his admission the next day. 

Today, he is on D ward, waiting for surgery. He should be going to the operating room in a few hours time and I'll be there to observe his surgery. I am excited for this life-changing opportunity for Junior and thankful for Dr. Gary (my hero and role model!) and the OR staff that will be helping him through this surgery. More news soon.

Previous posts about Junior: 
April 2013: A new home

Sunday, April 21, 2013

X-ray Project – Fundraising completed…

I am very pleased to provide you with an update on the x-ray project and happy to announce that we have reached our fundraising target! This is great news for Ola During Children’s Hospital and the children in Sierra Leone.

More good news is that the equipment is scheduled to arrive on the 18th of May and a clearing agent is already processing the paper work so that we get the equipment out of the port within days of its arrival. Meanwhile, the recruitment process for x-ray technicians is underway and a Canadian radiographer arrived last week to help set up the x-ray department and further train the technicians over the next 4 months. The radiography staff will undergo a radiation protection safety training in May 2013 and the Radiation Protection Board will come to inspect the x-ray department in June, which is when we hope to have the x-ray department up and running.

I continue to be very excited about this project because I know that a functioning x-ray department will have a positive impact on the care we can provide for the children in the hospital. I look forward to the day that we no longer have to send children across town to Connaught hospital for x-rays!

I would like to extend my appreciation to everyone who raised money for this project, as friends and family of Welbodi Partnership staff made over 150 contributions over the past 9 months. I would also like to thank the various Foundations that have made significant contributions to this project.

Tenki plenti.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A new home...

I am thrilled to report that the little boy with the cleft lip/palate (see previous posts) has been placed in an orphanage. I was not very clear in the last post, but the 'safe' place the boy was staying at, was actually the Children's hospital. Not exactly an ideal place for a little baby needing a home, but better than no home at all and certainly better than him being taken upcountry to be sacrificed back to the devils! For five weeks his father took care of him in ward 1. It was pretty amazing to see the love this father has for his child. 

It was very surreal on Wednesday to be on the ward with a social worker from an orphanage, telling the father that the day had come. Finally, his son can be placed in a good orphanage. The father smiled with relief. Although he loves his son very much, he has struggled to take care of him and knew he would not manage outside of the hospital. A solution had come. 

So, after going through various processes, it was time for the baby to leave the hospital. He had now spent a quarter of his life in the hospital. The nurses were happy to know he now has a home but also sad to see their little friend go. It was great to see the way they sent off this little baby. Lots of hugs and kisses. 

The place he has been placed is a 5-10 min drive/30 minute walk from my house and so it has been easy so far for me to visit after work everyday. I am glad to see that he is being well taken care of. Unfortunately when I visited yesterday, he had a fever again so I am praying for a quick and full recovery for him. 

I'm not sure what his immediate future holds - what will his mother do when she returns from Freetown once she is well? what will happen after he has had surgery? - a lot of unknowns but for now, I know he is in a safe place with many aunties and other children who are eager to see him do well.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Paediatric Primary Exam...

It's hard to believe that it has been 6 months since I took the dreaded primary exam - the entrance exam for residency training through the West African College of Physicians. It's also hard to believe that I am planning to re-take it in 6 months time. It all seems very daunting, but I think I owe it to myself to give it one more try! So, soon I will be focussing more on studying...more time in the books. More genetics, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, etc. Hopefully this time I will feel more confident and the hours and hours I put into studying will pay off in the end. I suppose all I can say is that I am going to do my best and try even harder than last time. Fingers crossed I'll have a good result. 

To all those taking the exam this Friday - good luck!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bye bye child...

While I was at the Children's hospital this afternoon a colleague of mine told me that she has been helping a 2 month old in the Emergency Room. The child's condition was not good and it was decided that the child should go to the intensive care. I believe this is the 3rd day of admission. 

My colleague was distraught. Only minutes before seeing me, the mother decided to discharge the child against medical advice and left the hospital with the child. Without oxygen, the child's saturation levels were only 50%. This child is unlikely to survive without proper medical care. My colleague told the mother that the child will die if she takes the child out of the hospital. "Bye bye child" is what my colleague said to me. The mother did not seem to care. It seemed as though the mother no longer wanted the child and this was the easiest solution for her. 

This is a sad but true story. And unfortunately we see a number of discharges against medical advice every week. Why is it that people decide to leave the hospital, especially when told that there is a big chance their child will die. I suppose some of it is lack of faith in the medical system, a strong belief in traditional medicine, other commitments at home, pressure from the family. So many reasons why it is not convenient to stay in the hospital with your sick child. But what about the child? What about the child's rights? What about child protection? For this child, it would almost have been better for the mother to just walk out and leave the child. But do we want to encourage that? What happens to the children that are abandoned in the hospital? It's often difficult to find a home for them. 

This is a dilemma, and right now I don't have any answers. I'm praying that somehow God will intervene in this situation. And I'm hoping my colleague will be encouraged, since she put a lot of energy into this family over the past few days. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday at River 2...

River 2 is an amazing place. One of my colleagues who works extremely hard and hasn't been out of Freetown for a while took today off, so I decided to arrange a beach trip. Osman drove 4 of us there and picked us up later. It was a lovely day. Sitting, chatting, resting, swimming. The scenery is really stunning: mountains, forest, palm trees, river, beach, ocean. Pretty perfect. 

I took some time to reflect. I was reminded that no matter what I do, I am forgiven. What Jesus went through on this remembrance day many years ago - the suffering, the pain, the grief, His death - is my saving grace. I am thankful for what He did/does for me. It is a comfort to know that even though I make mistakes (over and over) I can go to Him and I can be certain that He hears me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remember the boy with the cleft lip/palate...

Do you remember the cleft lip/palate patient I blogged about a few months ago?

He is doing really well. His parents were thrilled with him. Six weeks ago they were encouraging another family with a cleft lip/palate to hang in there and love their child. I was amazed to see how they were handling the situation. And finally, the child was growing and so I changed the weekly appointment to once every two weeks.

About 4 weeks ago, the baby’s mother became ill. I advised them to take her to the hospital. Instead, the mother’s family came from upcountry and demanded to take her back upcountry with them. They were convinced that the baby, who they referred to as the ‘devil child’, caused the mother to fall ill. They wanted to take the baby to the village with them as well so that they could sacrifice him and give him back to the devils.

You can imagine how horrified I was on hearing this. Well, so was his father. His father acted quickly and refused to let them take the child. He came to us for safety. He was scared, worried and totally out of his depth.

Now, four weeks later, the father is still taking care of the child in a safe location. I see the child frequently and provide him with milk, diapers, soap and other things he needs. His father is still worried about the situation and feels he cannot continue like this for much longer. As much as he loves his son, he realizes he cannot stay in this location much longer, cannot take the child back to the family compound and also does not have an income to provide for him otherwise. Because of this, he asked us to find a home for the child, at least for now. Thankfully, it looks like we might have found temporary housing for him, until he undergoes surgery, which I am hoping will take place on the ship in May. Please pray as we finalize matters in the very near future: for a new home for baby and father, a job for father, a successful surgery in Guinea, and a bright future for this family.

Getting around town...

Since I don’t have access to a vehicle for personal use (evenings and weekends) I rely heavily on public transport. Usually that’s fine and it’s pretty cheap to get from place to place and to often just means waiting a little longer, needing to change taxis and being squashed in the car a bit more. Going up to church in Regent for example, the taxi usually has a driver, two people in the front seat next to him, and four people on the back seat. There are no seatbelts in a lot of taxis, definitely not the back seat, and often cracks in the windshield. Yeah, that’s the norm.

Of course, after about 8 or 9 at night for security reasons (or at other times if wanting a more convenient/easy ride), I call someone to pick me up and drop me off at home, mostly because I don’t like walking down my road at night. Thankfully a guy I met 2 ½ years ago, first as a taxi driver, who I then hired as our Welbodi driver for 3 months and who then became one of my best friends here – Osman – is by far the person who helps me get places/home the most. And he is almost always ready for me. However, when he’s upcountry or with a customer for a week, it sometimes means I need to find someone else. And so, if I find a good taxi driver during the day, I might ask for his number so I can call at times when Osman isn’t available.

This evening I needed to go to the store to change money (to help out a patient coming early tomorrow morning with transport money for Guinea) so since Osman is on his way back from Kenema, I started calling. First Mohamed – my number 2 driver, but he wasn’t available. So I called Jeffry, who I recently met, but he didn’t answer his phone. I then called Farah, who drove me a lot in the past, but his car has a problem. So I called Morlai, one of Osman’s friends but he also had car problems. I finally called Rex, one of my friend’s drivers who also has a taxi but he was in Lungi picking someone up at the airport. I quickly realized I was not going to manage to find someone to drive me tonight. Seeing as it was only 7:15, I decided to go right away so that I would be home again by 8:15. And I was, and I was fine. Our road was very busy this evening, so I had nothing to worry about. Let’s hope Osman stays in town for a bit now and that the other drivers get their cars fixed!

Back to Beautiful Bureh Beach...

After about a year and a half, I made it back to Bureh Beach. It’s probably the beach that is the furthest away, which is why I rarely go there, however, it is an amazingly beautiful beach and one of the only beaches one can surf at (not that I surf, but it’s fun to watch others try).
I had the opportunity to go to Bureh with friends yesterday and it was great to spend a day out of the city and enjoy nature, catch up with friends, eat grilled fish and just have a little time for self.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

8 years in Sierra Leone...

It is hard to believe that it's been 8 years since I first arrived at Lungi Airport. My initial plan was to stay for a year, as you can see, plans changed. I guess that is one of the things I've learnt here - plans change, be flexible! 

It is great to see that there has been progress over the past 8 years. Yes, there is still a long road ahead, but it is encouraging to look back and see how far we have come. Free healthcare for children under 5 years has its challenges, but it is a step in the right direction. The quality of services at the Children's hospital are better than they were and we will continue to improve on that as time goes on. National power is more frequent (although I'm saying that after we having a number of hours without power in the office today), road works have been completed in some areas (others are still ongoing) and well, the water supply has been fine in my house (although I know people in our neighborhood still have shortages). 

When I look back over the years I am thankful for the work I was able to do at the Aberdeen Women's Centre (initially ACFC) in the outpatient clinic. There are still days that I really miss working there. I am thankful for the work I have been able to do with Welbodi Partnership at the Children's Hospital. There have been many challenges, but also many rewards. There are so many great people I have met along the way - both patients, families, expatriates, Sierra Leoneans. I have been blessed. I am thankful for friends and family who have supported me on this journey.

Honestly, I have no idea how long I'll be here. I have no plans to leave at the moment but like I said above, plans can change. But for now, this is my home and I have to say, with a view as shown in the picture above from my bedroom, I can't say I feel the need to move anytime soon. Sweet Salone I am happy to call this my home.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Home sweet home...

I've been back in Sierra Leone for a 8 days now and I'm happy to be here. It's been a busy but good week. It did take a little getting used to things, like remembering to charge my electronic devices in the evening since we have had very little power at the house during the day, the noise of barking dogs and generators at night, standing out in a crowd (or not even in a crowd), poor water pressure in the shower, taking taxis, etc. It's been good though. There's a shortage of water in Freetown but thankfully our landlady is arranging for water trucks to deliver water to the house, so we have been fine so far. Harmattan is still ongoing, so the place is very dusty! The mornings and evenings are relatively cool but the afternoons can get pretty hot. Traffic has been pretty good due to various reasons which I will elaborate on in a later post. Work is going well - trying to put a few things in place and continue with where we left off. Good progress is being made on the x-ray project and I'll write more about that this coming week. Bottom line right now is that I am glad to be back in Freetown. Happy Sunday to you all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Two vacancies with Welbodi...

The Welbodi Partnership is looking for people to join our team in Freetown to work at the Ola During Children's Hospital. We are advertising for two positions: a volunteer project coordinator and a project manager. If you are interested, please click on the links below for further details including the job description and application procedure. 

Vacancy: Project Manager

Will you help us improve healthcare for the children in Sierra Leone?

If you know of someone else who might be interested, please forward this message to them.

Best wishes for 2013 on behalf of the Welbodi Partnership team.

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to my friends and family all over the world.

So far 2013 has been great. I spent New Year's Eve with a friend and it was fun to chat and laugh our way into the New Year. Day 1 was spent relaxing, playing, talking, spending time with family and an evening out with my brother. Day 2 is spent in Colorado with family, going to a museum, hopefully getting some frozen yoghurt and then packing for my trip back to the Netherlands.

I am confident that 2013 is going to be a great year full of opportunities, adventures and successes. I am excited that the x-ray project will become a reality and know that we will make more progress at the Children's Hospital. I am sure there will be challenges and probably failures along the way but hopefully that will make me a better and stronger person in the end. 

I am sure that this will be a year of change. I'm not exactly sure what lies ahead or how big those changes will be but I will 'go with the flow' and see where God leads.  It is both a bit frightening and exciting. I'm often reluctant to change but am convinced that if He orchestrates the changes, my life will be so much better. 

I'm looking forward to 2013. My hope is that it will be a year of opportunity, adventure, success, laughter, positive change and amazing friendship.

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