Dear Friends and Supporters,
We again are extremely pleased to report another very successful trip to Sierra Leone for the month of June 2011. We were very fortunate to have another new group of volunteers this time, including Dr. Rob Kester from Auburn, Maine, Dr. Jim Caputo from Rochester New York, medical students Eric Gruber and Hemang Acharya from U Mass medical School, Boston and Yewande Adisa from England. We also met up with a dedicated volunteer group from Long Island University in New York. Dawn Kilts, Dean of Nursing, Dr. Mohamed Grighria, Dean of Business School and Dr. Suzanna Gim, Dean of Pharmacy were all gracious enough to come to Bo to offer their help. The Long Island team has made many trips to Sierra Leone, bringing lots of student volunteers (over 14 this time), and they are partnering with us in our efforts to help the people of Sierra Leone. They have been very instrumental in assisting us in many facets of day to day work, as well as aiding us in our future growth plans.As usual, our first and foremost concern was our fistula patients. While we are quite pleased to report the sheer number of these patients appears to be slowing down a bit, there are still a tremendous number of difficult cases to be done. During this trip alone, we can gladly report we performed 51 successful surgeries overall (38 of which we consider Major cases and 13 Minor cases). To give you just one example of what is all too common in Sierra Leone, Elfreda Manley is a 48 y/o Sierra Leonean Lady that had had the fistula since the age of 17 yet had not found anyone able to fix her. She came to us with unfathomable 31 year history of leaking urine uncontrollably down her leg. Elfreda is a very intelligent lady that reads, writes and speaks English extremely well, yet she has been ostracized numerous times because every time she gets a job, it is eventually discovered that she leaks urine, and she is immediately fired. She had felt very depressed initially because she had been discriminated against for so long; however, she experienced some real hope upon arriving to our ward, where she saw numerous patients with the same problem. She had been staying with us for 6 months in order to get physically and emotional ready for the surgery, so we had gotten to know her extremely well and were very excited about her time finally arriving. Since her surgery, she is now 100% DRY and like a whole new person. Along with her having such a great skill set, we have decided to hire her to join our staff because she is such a positive and caring person. Below we will show you a picture of Elfreda Manley.While stories like Elfreda’s and our dream to help these fistula patients has brought this program to where we are, we continue to see an overwhelming need for Obstetrical Care, General Gynecology care and obviously many other services that we in the U.S. take for granted. One such example is a 24 y/o young lady that was in an automobile accident which killed her 7 y/o daughter. When we were making rounds on another ward early one Sunday morning, she called out to us to evaluate her. Here she is lying in a bed, unable to move her legs and upper extremities (obviously paralyzed from the neck down but without a neck brace on because there are none), and her 7 y/o daughter's body is in the Morgue 30 yards away. Her family has been standing around her bed asking for someone to help her, yet with no one able to help, they are forced to load her up with zero cervical or neck support into a small taxi to take her to Freetown (4+ hours away) to see if they can get her some help there. While this is extremely hard for many of us to understand, this is one example of the tremendous needs that are pervasive throughout this entire country.
But to stay positive (and you must in countries like this), the bottom line is we have a unique opportunity in that we can do SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE in this Country, and THANKS TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU we have, and continue to be fortunate enough to aid these people and give them a chance. Unlike many of the situations in America, where people want a HAND OUT, these people would like just a little HAND UP to get them jump started. With our volunteers from all over and our Sierra Leonean administrative costs so low, we are able to do a lot of these surgeries at an out of pocket cost of 500-1000 dollars, where in the States most of these would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, we truly appreciate your support and want you to know your help has gone a LONG way.
Dr. Phillip Koroma, the only Obstetrician and Gynecologist in the Provinces outside of Freetown, continues to allow our program to function in the Bo Government Hospital, and this allows us to keep our operating expenses to a minimum where we can function until we are able to obtain a larger facility for the increasing load we are experiencing.
We want to thank each and every one of you for allowing us to continue to help these people. If you have any questions, please be sure and feel free to call and/or email.