The numbers are in, and Mercy Hospital experienced a 17% increase in inpatients and a 12.5% increase in outpatients from the previous year. These increases may be partially attributed to completion and dedication of the surgical wing in January 2019, and addition of patient admission consultation rooms by the May 2019 Mission Team. This does not include the thousands served during mobile clinics by Mercy Village Outreach Services. 733 patients received inpatient treatment and 5,473 patients received outpatient services in 2019.
Full story in the 2020 winter issue of the HCW Magazine, coming soon.
1MILLIONHOME/HCW Family Reunification Workshop
HCW, 1MILLIONHOME and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) are collaborating to hold a reintegration/transition workshop for orphanage directors, child welfare program leaders, and government officials from West Africa.
The workshop will be held in Freetown in Fall 2020. Program Development Director Laura Horvath describes the event as a hands-on workshop designed to equip participants with the tools they need to begin their own transition from institutional to family-based care, as recommended by the United Nations. (Read more about family reintegration here.)
MSWGCA Minister Mabinty Tarawallie will host a nationwide meeting with all registered child protection organizations to encourage attendance at the 1MILLIONHOME/HCW workshop. The CRC will be highlighted as a trailblazer in the movement to reintegrate children with their family of birth or a foster family.
Collaboration with Street Child to rescue abandoned children
The CRC staff have been collaborating with Street Child to provide interim care for abandoned children while their families are traced and prepared for reintegration. Street Child has a long history in Sierra Leone providing short term and emergency care to homeless children. "I am very excited about the CRC taking the lead to work side by side to get children off the streets, Child Welfare Programs Liaison Mohamed Nabieu says. "The MSW Minister's goal is to take 1,000 kids off the streets by the end of this year, and she would be working with the CRC to support her goal."
The CRC continues to build a robust case management system, hiring additional case managers to effectively and efficiently monitor the welfare of children and families.
CRC mentors orphanages transitioning to family care
The CRC is launching a Deinstitutionalization department focused on helping orphanages transition from residential to family care. Led by long time CRC team member David Musa, the DI Department will assess an organization's readiness for transition, teach the organization how to develop a transition plan, and coach their staff through the process. The DI Department will coach orphanages on safe, collaborative, and sustainable family reintegration, as well as family strengthening and sustainability.
The Child Reintegration Centre announced the promotion of Henry Kebbie to Sponsor A Child Coordinator. Since 2017, Henry Kebbie has served the CRC ably as Assistant Coordinator. With the departure of program lead Joseph "JJ" Junisa, who has joined his wife in London, the CRC leadership unanimously agreed that Henry should step into the leadership role.
Henry is an alumnus of the CRC who was enrolled in the Child Support Program in 2000 as a child from a vulnerable family. Always a gifted and determined student, Henry earned a Promise Scholarship to study social work at Njala University. In 2017, Henry graduated with a bachelors degree in social work and was immediately hired by the CRC to assist the SAC program and perform case management duties.
Henry says that working at the CRC is a fulfillment of his life goal to help children with backgrounds like his own. "As a social worker, since I have a passion for helping children, I am also creating an impact in their life. It was my dream to help poor children. Being a social worker, you can work anywhere, helping children and the needy."
The father of a young daughter, Henry has a natural rapport with the CRC children. He enjoys every opportunity to connect the students with their sponsors. "Whenever the children come for letter writing I have so much fun with them. When sponsors visit and we go on home visits, the time we spend with them helps me to know most of the students’ homes," Henry says.
Henry is grateful to work for an organization with faith at the core of the mission. "One of my favorite things about working at the CRC is that we start every day with devotion, bringing the grace of God into our lives before we start working," he says.
The Child Reintegration Centre's education department, led by Education Manager Mabel Mustapha, organized a forum for secondary students to hear from successful graduates of vocational and technical programs. The forum aimed to remove the stigma students and their families may have towards vocational or technical training, and encourage them to seek successful careers in fields that don't require a university degree.
Daniel Lahai, a carpentry teacher at Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrialization Centers (SL-OIC), one of the CRC's approved post-secondary institutions, spoke to the students about training opportunities in the construction field. Mercy Hospital electrician Mohamed Bangura and CRC accountant Lucy Jusu shared their stories of personal success as graduates of votech programs who now have interesting, good-paying jobs with room for advancement. All three speakers attended SL-OIC before embarking on their current careers. Lucy worked for many years at the CRC before going back to school to earn an accounting degree.
On a national level, the 2019 WASSCE exam results were very disappointing, and few students earned the scores required for university acceptance. Job training is an excellent alternative for senior secondary (high school equivalent) graduates. The most recent labor statistics from the World Bank show that just 10% of the population are wage or salaried workers, so good jobs are not easy to come by in Sierra Leone, but welders, electricians, accountants, and other skilled workers are in high demand.
The Child Reintegration Centre regularly holds workshops on healthy parent-child attachment for parents of CRC-enrolled children. Attachment, or normal bonding between parent and child, is the primary mental pillar of a child's development and is essential for a family's health and stability.
Families in Sierra Leone may struggle because of extreme poverty, parental illiteracy, and household instability caused by parents leaving to pursue work. Many of the children enrolled in a CRC program have experienced trauma in their young lives, which may cause them to struggle with behavioral problems. The CRC's attachment workshop helps parents understand the critical importance of bonding, and effective strategies for dealing with behavior challenges without damaging the bond between caregiver and child.
The attachment workshop covers six modules:
- Emmanuel Lamin, CRC Case Manager
The Mercy outreach team identified a toddler with inguinal hernia. Little Saidu was transported to Mercy Hospital where surgery was successfully performed by Lawrence Kargbo, surgical health officer, to correct the condition. Saidu made a full recovery under the care of Mercy staff and was released to his grateful mother.
About 3-5% of healthy, full-term babies may be born with an inguinal hernia and one third of infancy and childhood hernias appear in the first 6 months of life. In premature infants, the incidence of inguinal hernia is substantially increased, up to 30%. Children in Sierra Leone and other parts of the developing world may be more prone to conditions like inguinal hernia due to conditions that may be caused by inadequate maternal and infant care.