This is the last blog post of the October HCW UMVIM Team. My teammates departed this morning and it is SOOO quiet here at the MTC tonight. I enjoyed my late lunch and dinner with Fudia, as we talked of her visit to the US next year to promote Fudia’s Cookbook. Coming to a church near you! Also, the return of HCW’s M&E Project Lead, Sam Bundren. This has also been a topic at many of our meetings with our partners, who are all eagerly awaiting his return. I finished the last day in Bo with a meeting of the Mercy Hospital Local Management Committee. I was finally able to put faces with several names known to me, and also to meet some new representatives of the various members of the Management Committee. I particularly enjoyed meeting the representative of the Paramount Chief and the representative of the District Medical Officer. As Reverend Francis Charley, UMC District Supervisor for Bo, and chair of the committee, took us calmly through our deliberations, I came to understand and appreciate even more about how the differences in our cultures change only the approaches we take to problem-solving, not the concerns or interests we are resolving together in partnership.
Thank you for a renewed sense of purpose and belonging to the whole wide world beneath the care of a loving God, and for firmly placing Sierra Leone in the hearts of so many grateful Americans. To all my old and new friends, whether we encountered you in Bo or Freetown, at Mercy Hospital, CRC, MTC, Leader Memorial, the US Embassy, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Equality, or if we met you in the bustling urban centers or the rural villages, I say fond farewell and see you "soon time!"
Tonight is the last night at the Missionary Training Center for most of our team. Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve seen four generators repaired, medical care provided at Mercy Hospital and in local villages. We’ve interacted with children who are currently cared for by the Child Rescue Centre and CRC alums who are taking the fight to poverty in their own ministry endeavors. Two villages have taken steps as part of the new Village Partnership Initiative. We’ve worshipped, prayed, painted, and wept. Our God has richly blessed us with two fruitful weeks, yet the work is far from over.
Yesterday a little boy died at Mercy Hospital. Just under a year in age, he presented with Malaria and in desperate need of a blood transfusion. We’ll never know for certain if a transfusion would have saved his life because he didn’t receive one. Why? Mercy has a blood bank, so why didn’t this baby get what he needed? The answer may make you shout in anger or burst into tears. You see, the power grid that services Mercy Hospital and the rest of Bo is unreliable, too unreliable for Mercy to be able to maintain adequate blood for such emergencies. This is not one of those problems that lacks a solution. The solution is to outfit this campus with solar power. Yes, friends, there is much to be done.
We have been richly blessed these two weeks. Our lives have been influenced by Christ and the beautiful people of Sierra Leone in ways our team shall not soon forget. We are so grateful to our families, co-workers, and loved ones who gave us the space and coverage to be here. Yet, we depart in the full knowledge more is required. Holy work, life-and-death work is left to be done. Thank you for your prayers, for sharing in this journey with us through these blog posts, and if you feel the call to make a world-changing, life-saving difference, we hope you’ll reach out to Helping Children Worldwide to join an upcoming team, volunteer, or give.
Team Jesus: Cynthia, David, Karen, Melody, Rob, Tina and Vicki
We are so excited about today’s blog post we didn’t even include a greeting! Helping Children Worldwide, the Child Rescue Center, and Mercy Hospital are proud to announce the launch a new joint endeavor called the Village Partnership Initiative. The initiative occurs in two phases. Phase one involves accomplishing a series of humanitarian projects in a single village. Over the last several months 13 villages across the Bo District have participated in a mapping inventory in which the residents identified and ranked their greatest needs. This means that the projects undertaken in Phase 1 are entirely selected by the community.
But, the second phase is where the project becomes very exciting. In addition to meeting humanitarian needs, this initiative also includes a joint economic enterprise. HCW, Mercy and CRC will work with the village over the course of three years to help the community develop a functioning economy. The economic enterprise can involve agriculture, manufacturing, mining or any prospective business the village selects.
Once the village settles on an enterprise, HCW, Mercy and CRC will provide training, logistical support and counsel. In the first year, HCW will provide a grant to the village as it launches the enterprise. If more funds are needed in the second year, a low-interest loan will be issued. Should additional funding be required the third year another loan will be issued. All along the path, the project is managed by a team of seven leaders: one from the CRC, one from Mercy and five from the village itself.
In short, this initiative is designed not only to fight the symptoms of poverty but to cut it off at its roots by helping the community develop its own robust economy. And, it does so while making the village residents themselves central to the effort.
Today, members of our team met with the women and men of Fengehun Village, the first community to benefit from the Village Partnership.
Fengehun identified several major relief initiatives including sanitation, clean water, and the expansion of their medical facility. We spent time brain storming ideas for the economic enterprise, and the village elected five representatives to sit on the partnership committee. In the picture you see the members of the partnership committee along with team members Melody and Rob.
Please join us in prayer for the people of Fengehun and the work to be done there. As Bogie said, “This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Greetings to our blog friends and prayer partners!
It is hard to believe it is already Monday. Realizing that we have answered the call to our Lord and Savior to be in service to Him, we are calling ourselves Team Jesus. We attended devotional and staff updates at Mercy Hospital. Some of us completed rounds with Dr. Amara attending to 8 patients. A pregnant woman in labor arrived early Sunday morning. The labor did not progress as expected. Dr. Amara was called in and an emergency c-section was performed at 2:30 am. For this to happen, the anesthesiologist had to be picked up from home, other staff was called in and the maintenance coordinator, Mohammed, was called in to fire up the generator to provide enough power to be able to administer the anesthesia. All obstacles were overcome systematically and efficiently with the arrival of a big baby girl. Mom and baby are healthy and happy with plans to discharge home Wednesday. (insert photo). Other patients were evaluated, all doing well and progressing as expected.
One man checked himself out from the hospital in Freetown to transfer to Mercy Hospital in Bo where he preferred to receive his treatment. After a week of care at Mercy, he is feeling better, his vitals and symptoms are improved and he is expected to discharge home today. When we entered the room of our last patient, she immediately began praising God and Mercy hospital for improved health. She continued to tell Dr. Amara of her improved symptoms. Following evaluation, Dr. Amara agreed and she should be ready to discharge home today. It is evident that the Mercy staff is a well-oiled, professional caring team that works together to provide best patient care.
If you would like to support Mercy Hospital or join us on a medical mission team, follow these links:
Learn more about Mercy Hospital.
Learn more about mission teams.
Team Jesus work continues with maintenance issues, teacher collaborative program and outreach.
And He called His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, heal every disease and every affliction. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Matthew 10:1,8.
Mercy Hospital heals 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
For the love of His children,
Vicki and Karen
Our team spent the morning in worship at Leader United Methodist Church. The music was Spirit-filled; the sermon was instructive and the offerings successful. Sunday school began at 9:30, followed by worship at 10:00. What energy and love. The guest speaker began his teaching (2 hours and fifteen minutes into the service) about how to move forward through a three step process: gaining perspective, asking good questions and setting a target for the future.
After lunch, we loaded up and went to visit 10 sponsor children in their homes. Karen Roeming’s family has been sponsoring Isata for two years. In the picture below you see Isata trying to give something back to Karen, whose family has made such a difference in Isata’s life. Karen politely declined.
The Sponsor a Child Program through Helping Children Worldwide is truly a difference maker. Over 500 children have sponsors through HCW, but many more do not. If you would be interested in helping to care for these special ones, you can find out more here.
As the day drew to a close we celebrated the anniversary of Melody’s 29th birthday. Fudia was kind enough to make a chocolate cake. We thank God for our friend Melody and for each of you.
Love, In Christ!
As another day falls quiet here in West Africa, our team is once more up to full strength. Melody and Cynthia returned from Freetown today after sharing fruitful conversations with Bishop Yambasu, The U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Equality, and several key collaborators.
The rest of the team spent the morning at the Child Rescue Center helping over thirty of God’s treasures write letters to their sponsor families, play games, and simply being one together in love. Jesus said let the little children come to me and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven. One could make a strong argument Christ spoke those words with these children in mind.
The CRC staff holds letter writing events three times a month; it is a herculean effort on their part simply to bring the children together. Once assembled, the children work with diligence and passion to write and decorate their letters. It is truly a labor of love, and to a person our team feels blessed beyond measure to be here. If you’d like to experience such a blessing, find out more about upcoming trips by participating in Sunday’s online information session.
Until Tomorrow, Love in Christ!
Team Blog: Friday, 25 October, 2019
Today was a busy day for the October Team under the bright blue sky in Sierra Leone. We started our day praising our awesome God with the incredible Mercy Hospital staff. We participated in the Mercy Mission Nutrition Program for infants. Mothers brought their babies from far and wide to have them weighed, and measured to determine the nutritional status. Where indicated, the mothers are provided with supplemental food to ensure the baby's health. The moms are dedicated in returning to clinic with their babies for monitoring, follow up and progression. (insert photo)
Along with the Sponsor-A-Child (SAC) coordinators, the Team visited two schools where some of the sponsored Child Rescue Centre children were in class. The children were excited to be in school reporting that they are performing well and happy with their families. They greeted us with enthusiasm. It was clear that the children have a close bond with their SAC coordinators.
Next on the agenda was a trip to the market for fabric and supplies with our amazing caretaker, Fudia. To end the day we had a visit with our miracle boy, Abu Bakarr who was burned over 2/3 of his body in December, 2016. He is successful in school and has successfully promoted to class/grade 6. He enjoys playing with his friends after school with his favorite game, of course, football/soccer. We visited him at home with his large family who has been supportive throughout his recovery. They lavished praises on the programs and support provided by Mercy Hospital,the Child Rescue Centre and the grace of God for Abu Bakarr’s current progress and school success. Please see the next Helping Children Worldwide newsletter for the full story. In the midst of these projects, facility work and maintenance continued.
In Matthew 10:8 Jesus tells us, “Freely we have been given, freely give.” I see “church” as an action verb. We can follow Jesus in His gospel mission. We can:
Welcome the stranger
One of Mercy Hospital’s pillar programs, Medical Village Outreach, filled our Thursday morning. The concept is simple, if the people cannot get to services - take healthcare to them!
The team (minus Melody and Cynthia who left before dawn for meetings in Freetown) and Mercy staff members loaded into two 4x4 ambulances for a relatively quick ride out to Gbingboma Village where mothers and babies were already patiently waiting for us.
The Mercy staff included a Community Health Officer (CHO), maternity nurses, lab technicians, a clinician, and several delightful nursing students completing their practicum through Mercy Hospital. Our team was spread out, each assisting at a different station. David, was a master of weighing screaming infants! Vicki helped the CHO with consultation and Karen assisted in the prenatal exams. Tina helped administered malaria and HIV testing to babies and pregnant moms, while Rob rounded out the rotation helping the clinician dispense the appropriate medicines - which included some pastoral high fives and fist bumps for the young ones.
It was a busy morning, the time goes by so fast! When you first arrive, you are facing a crowd of moms and babies, it can be a bit overwhelming. But once the process starts, it really flows!
We met Amos, a baby who was first diagnosed recently through a Village Outreach with two serious hernias. Amos had surgery at Mercy Hospital and was visiting the Village Outreach for follow up. He is doing really well.
Mercy Hospital’s Village Outreach program is a literal lifeline to the community. The program visits each community in its rotation once a month, and the turnout is always high. The program's education, counseling and referral system is changing the future for the most fragile Sierra Leonean population. It was an honor for our team to briefly work alongside the Mercy staff who are responsible for this transformation.
Over in Freetown, meanwhile, Melody and Cynthia were representing HCW at the CRC and MTC Supervisory Board meeting, where big ideas were being discussed as Director Oliva Fonnie presented her vision for the CRC, including a name change to the Child Reintegration Centre! The meeting was filled with promise of the future. We problem solved, reviewed budgets, discussed old and new collaborative efforts and even witnessed seeds being sown as Bishop Yambasu challenged our friends and partners to consider a new idea for their work on the campus of UMC Bo Urban Ministries Centre. Then Olivia, Melody and Cynthia sat down for dinner with these old friends and new friends from 1MillionHome to discuss several exciting proposals, some of which will be presented to high ranking officials in the government on Friday.
We started the day in worship with the CRC staff. Victor led with a devotion titled “Why Devotion” It was a fitting focus as we spent time in worship with our CRC partners. Following the devotion we took time to introduce ourselves and discovered that a few members of the staff have been involved with the CRC for almost 20 years. We also learned that five of the staff actually grew up in the CRC. JJ, JB, Rosa, Imourana, and Henry, went to University after their time at the CRC and are now giving back in gratitude for the blessings they received at a very young age.
Following devotion we spent time with the staff individually learning what each do for the CRC and the impact they are having on the mission. We walked the grounds and reviewed the different facilities and structures that make up the CRC. The Kulanda Town Early Childhood Program was taking place in what used to be the Dining hall at the CRC. The children’s laughter could be heard all around and this brought back fond memories for the veteran missionaries.
After that we got right to work with budget meetings, facility assessment, staffing plans and even a treatment plan for a special young patient. All and all it was a very productive first full day.
Just as we started the day we ended with worship with the CRC staff. It was a good day for the October team and we are looking forward to our medical outreach tomorrow.