The CRC's newest students live in Fengehun Village, just outside of Bo. Because of the distance, the Fengehun students weren't able to attend the Christmas parties held at the CRC compound, so the CRC staff brought Christmas to them.
In the fall of 2017, the CRC expanded beyond Bo to add 20 first graders living in Fengehun Village to the roster. Fengehun Village is one of the villages served by Mercy Hospital's Outreach program. CRC staff travels with Mercy staff to do home and school visits for the children, while Mercy conducts prenatal and child nutrition clinics. It takes about 45 minutes to reach Fengehun by car.
Because of the distance, the 20 new students couldn't attend the Sponsor A Child Christmas parties held at the CRC, so the CRC staff brought a belated Christmas to them in January. Each child received a Luci solar light and treats to share with their families.
We are proud to announce that Child Rescue Centre alumnus Aruna Stevens received his medical degree from the College of Medical and Allied Health Studies (COMAHS) on January 20th. His convocation in Freetown was attended by many fellow CRC alumni. Aruna is the second CRC student to graduate medical school, preceded by Yusef Tejan, who graduated from COMAHS last year.
Aruna dedicated his dissertation defense to his late parents and to his American sponsor, Brian McCaffrey, "without whose compassionate support it would not have been possible." He will begin his two-year housemanship (residency) in the spring, which will include six months rotation each in medicine, surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.
CARES Radio held an end of year street broadcast at the Shellmingo round about in Bo City. This program attracted stakeholders from the Bo environment such as: the Regional Human Right Activities chair, the ruling APC South Party chair, a student representative from Njala University, the media, CRC staff, and the public.
The program dealt with the topic "Put your country first in the coming National Elections in Sierra Leone." Prizes were distributed to participants who answered questions as the program was aired live on the radio.
One year old Phillipa Joy was recently brought to Mercy with shortness of breath, and was subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia. After a few days of treatment, she was feeling much better, breathing normally, and ready to go home.
Seventy-year-old John George was admitted to Mercy Hospital in November with a severe cough. Staff were initially concerned he might have tuberculosis, but happily he tested negative and is responding well to treatment.
“I was so much worse at home. I couldn’t walk by myself and after just a few steps I would be exhausted. I was coughing all day and all night. I couldn’t sleep because the coughing was so bad. I came to Mercy but honestly, I was hopeless that I would get better. But now I am so much better! I can walk, sleep and I am relieved from the coughing.”
Munda Yonjai was admitted to Mercy Hospital for one week with schistosomiasis and a serious kidney infection. “I came in a very bad state. I was not able to walk, not able to sit, not able to lay down on my back, not able to sleep. Now I am much better. I can walk, I can sit, I can lay down, and I am sleeping much better. I thank God and Mercy for all they have done for me!"
In the early months of 2017, the Child Rescue Centre launched a pilot microfinance program. Specifically focused on the most vulnerable of the families served by CRC programs, 30 parents were invited to enroll in the first Microfinance Class. Participation in an 18 week course on savings, budgeting and money management is required for certification and the award of a small loan in the amount of 500,00 le (approximately $70).
Recently the participants where asked to share the most significant changes they've experienced since taking the class and receiving a loan. Many shared that they are now able to pay their rent, and that their school-aged children now have lunch money for school. Many participants are sharing the financial knowledge they've gained with their spouses and other family members.
Amara Fofanah says that one significant impact is that he "is able to pay for Saturday classes" for his children. These are necessary to help kids do well on national exams, but they often cost more so those who can't pay don't benefit. He also shared that for the first time, his children have lunch money to take to school with them.
Nancy Jusu Sr agrees. Before receiving her small loan, Nancy had to walk around Bo to sell cassava and potato leaves. The loan enabled her to set up a small table stall near her home. Even more importantly, it came in time for her to purchase medications for her very ill daughter, whom she's convinced would not have survived without it.