Still recovering from a devastating civil war that destroyed the country’s infrastructure, Sierra Leone still remains one of the world’s poorest countries.
Our involvement in Sierra Leone through Fire Tabernacle Outreach Ministries (FTOM) over the last several years has allowed us to make small steps toward improving the quality of life for communities on the impoverished east end of Freetown. In 2011, fundraising began for the construction of the Sanders Marshall Memorial Christian Clinic in the rural village of Hastings, 32 miles east of Freetown. In anticipation of the clinic’s opening, FTOM has been conducting free medical clinics as a community outreach program to serve local populations. This May, their medical staff was joined by a mission team from the US, who helped conduct two clinics in Hastings and Kissy, on the eastern end of Freetown. FTOM’s senior pastor, Jeremiah Mansaray, a licensed pharmacist, organized the clinics, staffed by local nurses and midwives. Our focus centered primarily on two at-risk populations: pregnant women and children under five.
With many in this area of Sierra Lone struggling just to feed their families day to day, medical care is a luxury they cannot afford. For many of the pregnant women, our clinic was the only prenatal care they will have. With the onset of the rainy season, nearly every patient we saw was suffering from malaria. Dehydration and malnutrition were also rampant. Due to the lack of sanitary living conditions, many patients, especially young children, had developed infected wounds. Thanks to a generous grant from Henry Schein, we had high quality antibiotics and pain medications to offer our patients. Often the medicine for sale in Sierra Leone is sub-standard – one of the bottles of amoxicillin we purchased locally for use at the clinic was tainted and had to be thrown away.
One of the things that struck the US team the most was the sheer desperation felt among the people to receive care. FTOM staff routinely had to enforce crowd control measures as people crowded into our building in an effort to be seen before medication or time ran out. Some traveled from as far away as 15 miles, likely on foot, and one person was desperate enough to steal a registration ticket so they could receive care. Thanks to the generosity of Henry Schein, each registered patient in both of our medical clinics was able to receive medication for their ailments. We were also able to give out toothbrushes and toothpaste to 300 children. Though FTOM did no advertising, our free clinics were such big news in Freetown that three radio stations called for information or came out to conduct interviews.
Not only did our team have the satisfaction of helping to heal people in need; our clinics also spread good will and hope in a country that is predominantly Muslim and often has a negative view of Americans. FTOM’s office received phone calls for days afterward from grateful pregnant women and mothers and perceptions of Americans in the local communities have changed for the better.
Our Sierra Leone medical staff and American mission team members would like to thank Henry Schein for supporting our efforts in Sierra Leone. Not only did your donated medication meet an immediate medical need, but the equipment and screening kits you provided will be used in our Sanders Marshall Memorial Christian Clinic examining rooms, laboratory and pharmacy when it opens in 2013. Thank you for partnering with us to bless the people of Sierra Leone!