Rosa Saffa and Emmanuel Lamin, both counselors for the children in the CRC program, have begun counseling sessions twice a week to Abu Bakarr Kanu, pediatric burn patient at Mercy Hospital. These sessions are critical in order to keep his spirits up and address any emotional or psychological trauma he may be suffering, while the Mercy staff works to build his strength to prepare him for surgery later this year.
In these initial sessions, Rosa and Emmanuel meet with Abu together to help him to become familiar with them both. As time goes on, they will rotate their time with Abu to allow for one-on-one sessions twice a week for as long as Abu remains at Mercy.
By Chris Smith, Communications Coordinator, Galilee United Methodist Church
When Jason Duley runs long distances, he’s doing what makes him feel most alive.
“My legs are pumping and it feels good. My lungs are opened up, I’m really breathing. I feel one with my surroundings, though I’m moving fast so they may be a bit of a blur,” he says. “I do feel alive!”
You might say that as pastor at Galilee UMC in Sterling, VA, Jason is in the business of feeling alive. He gets plenty of work overseeing funerals (or “celebrations of life,” as he prefers to call them), but his real passion is pouring out the living water of God’s message to his congregation—so that they feel more spiritually alive.
“God put us on the earth to live and to know that we are alive,” says Jason. “In a sense, the question of “who am I?” or “what should I be doing?” is answered by knowing what makes us feel most alive.You have to answer the question for yourself.”
“For me, there’s a charge I get from endurance exercise. God created us with bodies and the spiritual and the physical are two sides of a coin. Exercise improves not just my health, but my understanding and my compassion. And, bonus! There is something else that makes me feel alive: service. Reaching those who I can really help charges my batteries for sure. I’m blessed to have found that I can combine these two things, by running for Mercy Hospital.”
This April, Jason ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 2017—his first ever marathon. An unusual marathon, it is run through beautiful terrain on the banks of the Potomac River, where there are plenty of hills to test one’s endurance. To run it is an accomplishment, and a runner can take plenty of satisfaction in conquering those 26 miles.
For Jason, there was a higher goal.
“I’m a pastor, which means I talk to a lot of people. I also have nearly a thousand friends on social media. Using the megaphone of modern technology, I set up a funding site and asked people to chip in with small donations to help my favorite cause in the world, Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone.”
“I asked for people to give a dollar per mile, or two dollars, or a lump sum. Whatever they could. I wasn’t expecting gazillions, nor was there any reason why I needed to have money to run this marathon. It’s just that I could do this. I could lift up Bo, grabbing people’s attention for an afternoon as I huffed and puffed with a number on my back.”
Jason set a goal of $500. He raised $708 online, and received many more donations offline, for a total of $6000. “Which is an amount—though it isn’t huge—that I know can save lives in Sierra Leone.”
Jason’s church, GalileeUMC, is one of the original partner churches of Helping Children Worldwide. But for Jason, who arrived at Galilee in 2014, the mission of saving lives in Sierra Leone is newer.
“It was when I visited Mercy Hospital for the first time this spring that I found out what a remarkable place Africa is, and Sierra Leone, and Bo, in particular. How helping women and children in the midst of serious poverty can make an impact that dwarfs much of what I accomplish at home.”
“Being with the doctors and the staff at Mercy, visiting with the patients alongside the Helping Children Worldwide team…I felt like I was in that zone. I felt truly alive, like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is where God has placed me and it is for a reason of higher significance.”
“So I made a commitment to myself. I was training to do this spiritual thing that makes me feel alive, running a marathon. How great to connect one ultimately rewarding activity to another, helping our brothers and sisters in Bo.”
“Maybe there is a better way to feel the charge of God’s positive spirit, but if there is, I don’t know what it is.”
Jason has not always been a runner. He began just three years ago. “It’s a was a conscious decision,” he says, “but a spiritual thing—not just to get healthy or lose weight. I wanted to be outdoors more, as a matter of faith, because Christ was outdoorsy! Christ made his retreats to the mountains around the Sea of Galilee, and this was an important spiritual practice for him. It’s something I like to call an “anchor habit,” a practice that makes everything else you do easier or more fulfilling. I haven’t got the Sea of Galilee (just the church of Galilee), but I do have the beautiful W&OD Trail.”
“I have always been a bicyclist. When one day I felt myself getting winded trying to keep up on a mountain bike with an older friend (older! can you imagine?), I decided to take up running to improve my stamina and endurance. Running became my anchor habit.”
“I did 5k and 10k runs, initially. I found I liked it. Then last year, I did two half marathons. I liked to joke that I could easily run 26 miles, it just took me a year. Finally, I thought the time was right for a full marathon.”
“The North Face Endurance Challenge was hard—I won’t lie. I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to come in first. I had thought about wearing a t-shirt that said on the back, “Running for Life - Mercy Hospital, Sierra Leone,” but dismissed the idea. Very few people would be behind me to read it!”
“Still, I finished the North Face and it was a wonderful experience that did not destroy me. I was at Galilee’s Sunday service the very next day!”
Jason crossed the finish line, but he isn’t done running. Hitting the trail and pushing his endurance is now an anchor habit for him, and one that will continue to benefit Mercy Hospital and the mission of Helping Children Worldwide.
“I hope to run a race every six or twelve months. I can raise money through social media, though I won’t raise a ton of money every time. Every bit helps, and the reward for me is to help the people I love by doing the thing I love. It feels good to be alive!”
It's not too late to contribute to Pastor Jason's fundraiser - click here to make a donation to Saving Lives!
Hassan Combay, a student in the residential program, received a citizenship award in recognition of his helping to sew clothing for fellow student Norman Koroma to wear to church. The award was presented by SAC coordinator Joseph Junisa, Residential Auntie Elizabeth Carew, and Education Supervisor Mabel Mustapha.
On Monday May 8th, the Mercy staff brought Abu Bakarr to Holy Mary Hospital in Makeni to meet with a group of reconstructive surgeons based out of the UK who make several trips a year to Sierra Leone to perform reconstructive surgeries. The surgeons are confident that they can perform skin graft surgery on Abu's legs, and surgically address the contractures as well, but given his undernourished state, they would prefer to begin these surgeries in six months time, after Abu has had time to gain some weight. The Mercy staff is working to 'fatten him up" with healthy food and nutritional supplements, and Abu will make the trip back to Makeni some time later this summer.
Many supporters in the US have offered their expertise and advice on Abu's care to the Mercy staff, including Dave Brewster and Susan Custer, who have been collaborating with Lappia on various physical therapy activities that will help Abu with his contractures. Jess Mills, a physician assistant in dermatology, has been providing expertise to the Mercy staff on wound care. Jess is in Bo now with the May team, working closely with the Mercy staff on Abu's case.
The CRC staff and children continue to address Abu's psychological and mental state. CRC counselors Rosa Saffa and Emmanuel Lamin provide counseling to Abu two days a week, and the CRC staff continues to visit and pray with Abu regularly. Additionally, the "Team of Eight," a group of residential student volunteers, has a standing appointment to visit Abu in the hospital to play games and spend time with him each week.
We praise God for these positive developments in Abu's recovery and offer our thanks for the contributions of expert volunteers both here in the US and in Sierra Leone. We ask you to continue to pray for him, and for all of those on the Mercy and CRC staff who care for him daily.
The May team arrived on Thursday, May 11, and was able to take a tour of the OR wing as a part of the regular tour of Mercy Hospital.
Helping Children Worldwide was pleased to award a scholarship to Lucy Jusu, the Child Rescue Centre's accountant and business manager, to pursue a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Finance. On Monday, May 15th, Lucy will begin her first semester exams. Please join us in praying for her to do well on her exams!
Lucy is the first CRC staff member to be a recipient of the Ginny Wagner Leadership Scholarship, which recognizes deserving CRC and Mercy Hospital staff members who demonstrate scholastic ability, humility, character, diversity and the potential to be future leaders within the organization, as well as in Sierra Leone. The scholarship is granted to no more than two recipients per year, and is intended for individuals who aspire to advance their academic, technical, medical, business or vocational training, as it applies to their role, function and responsibilities within either the CRC or Mercy Hospital. Recipients commit to returning to their respective organization for at least the equivalent period of time spent away while completing their course of study.
Lucy Jusu, Child Rescue Centre accountant and business manager.
We first wrote about Baby Mamie in March. Mamie was brought by her mother to the outreach in Tikonkoh, and was discovered to be so malnourished she needed to be admitted to Mercy Hospital. After spending two weeks at Mercy, she was enrolled in Mercy's Nutrition Program and sent home. Every month Mercy's Outreach team returns to Tikonkoh to weigh and measure Mamie and hundreds of children just like her, chart her progress, and give her another month's worth of Sierramix, a nutritional supplement similar to Plumpy'nut. Mercy's Outreach Program serves eleven villages surrounding the Bo community.
We're happy to report that Mamie continues to slowly gain weight, and already appears much healthier and stronger. We'll be tracking Mamie regularly, so stay tuned!
Thirty-two primary grade students from across all the Child Rescue Centre programs are taking the National Primary School Exam on Saturday, May 13. It is really important for children to pass this national exam so they can be promoted to Junior Secondary School. At present, the rate of advancement beyond primary education is estimated to be lower than 70%, with fewer girls promoting than boys. For those who do not pass this exam, their academic career could come to an end at this point.
To prepare the students for the rigorous exam, the CRC held a preparation class for all 32 children. Please join us in praying that all students perform well so they can advance to Junior Secondary School.
Please pray for these students taking the NPSE:
Child Support Program
By Kim Sprout, Director of Medical Projects
Jeneba, a 65 year old woman, came to Mercy in congestive heart failure. She was weak, breathless, and her entire body was puffy with excess fluid. She was also unable to eat, walk, or stand. She was admitted to Mercy for two months while they dealt with her various symptoms and getting her stabilized. Finally, she was able to go home to her family. A very humble woman, all she would say when asked about how she felt was “I thank God."
Although the elderly are revered in Sierra Leone, it may be very difficult for them to get adequate medical care. Mercy is intentional about treating people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay.
Seven-year-old Idrissa was brought to Mercy by his father. He was very anemic and had hepatitis B. He was very weak, unable to sit up much less stand and walk. He received two blood transfusions and medication for his hepatitis. After 4 days in the hospital he was up and walking, and even managed a shy smile when asked how he felt. His father said, “I was so afraid. I thought my son was going to die. Thank God for Mercy. Now my son is healthy again!”