Friday, November 22, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:13 PM
Monday, September 02, 2013
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!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 3:07 PM
Sunday, August 18, 2013
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.”
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 5:54 PM
Friday, July 05, 2013
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 11:10 PM
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: http://www.willingandabel.org.uk
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!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 3:28 PM
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 1:36 PM
Monday, June 10, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:48 PM
Friday, June 07, 2013
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
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:13 PM
Sunday, May 26, 2013
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 7:45 AM
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 11:25 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 11:21 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 10:58 PM
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
|Ibrahim, myself and Junior on the deck, the evening before surgery|
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:25 PM
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:17 PM
Sunday, April 07, 2013
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 1:12 PM
Friday, April 05, 2013
To all those taking the exam this Friday - good luck!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 12:23 AM
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 4:57 PM
Friday, March 29, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 9:19 PM
Monday, March 25, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:27 PM
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:24 PM
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:21 PM
Thursday, March 07, 2013
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:46 PM
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 3:41 PM
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:51 PM
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.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 6:44 PM