Staff member donates blood to safe a life
Alice, age 6, was suffering from severe anemia caused by malaria and as a result needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, no relative was a match and the family could not afford to pay for a donor. Typically in Sierra Leone blood is donated by the family.
Mercy’s Outreach Coordinator, Mohamed Khadar, immediately offered to step in and donate blood to save Alice's life. “Really, I am very happy to donate," Mohamed says. "It is all about saving a life. Some people are afraid to donate blood but I know it is so important. It makes me glad to see her well again.” Alice is much improved and reunited with her family.
Mercy Outreach Coordinator, Mohamed Khadar donated blood to save the life of a young malaria patient.
Toddler treated for malnutrition and complications
Eustacia, nearly 18 months old, could easily pass for less than a year old. She came into Mercy suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea, and was so weak she couldn't walk.
Mercy diagnosed Eustacia with chronic malnutrition and enrolled her in the nutrition program. Hopefully she will soon achieve normal weight, thanks to Mercy's intervention. Malnutrition is common among poor babies and toddlers in Sierra Leone, and is a contributing factor in the high under-five mortality rate. One of Mercy's prime missions is to address chronic malnutrition and save babies' lives.
Eustacia would have died from malnutrition without Mercy's intervention.
Early intervention rescues toddler from deadly malaria and typhoid
Mohamed, aged 20 months, was brought into Mercy by his 18 year old mother, Mariatu. Mohamed was so weak he could not lift his head. The nurses described him as “completely helpless.” He was suffering from malaria and typhoid, debilitating diseases for an adult, but deadly for a young baby. The Mercy staff administered a blood transfusion to treat Mohamed's anemia, and medications to combat the typhoid, fever and constipation, and the listless baby quickly began to regain his strength.
All of these diseases, while serious, are curable when medical care is sought early. His mother brought him to Mercy because she had often encountered the Mercy staff when they came to her village on outreach and trusted them. Mariatu praised the Mercy staff for their compassionate care of her baby. “I just thank God. Yesterday I was seriously crying. I actually thought he was going to die. He is my only child. I am so happy he is well now!"
Mohamed's mother is so grateful that Mercy saved her son's life. "I actually thought he was going to die!"
Giving birth at the hospital saved this mother's baby
Princess had already given birth to two children in a peripheral health unit (PHU), small clinics in rural villages staffed by midwives and nurses. Sometimes PHUs have a Community Health Officer (CHO), but never a doctor.
Although Princess' other pregnancies were normal, her sister-in-law encouraged her to give birth to her third child at Mercy Hospital, a decision that would ultimately save the baby’s life. Princess’ baby was born underweight and not breathing, probably because her mother had an undiagnosed sexually transmitted infection, which can cause birth complications, low birth weight, or even stillbirth. The mother had attended Mercy’s antenatal care program, but out of embarrassment had not told the maternity staff about the STI symptoms.
Mercy’s maternity staff immediately went into action, spending almost 30 minutes resuscitating the baby, who finally began to breathe, although she was still not crying. Due to the STI, the baby had inhaled a large amount of mucus in the womb. It was a tense couple of hours as the treatment took effect. At last, the baby slowly gained coloring and tentatively start to cry.
The staff breathed a collective sigh of relief when it became clear that the baby would live. Princess was extremely relieved. “I am really happy and appreciate for what Mercy did for me and my baby. I know if I had gone to the PHU the baby would not have survived. I am so grateful for what Mercy did for us.”
The nurses also confirmed that the PHU would not have been able to manage the case, and the baby surely would have died.
Princess's baby most likely survived because she gave birth at Mercy Hospital, instead of in the village.
Fourteen-year-old Hannah Smith attends the Methodist Girls High school in Bo where she is enrolled in Junior Secondary 1. Hannah and her younger brother Paul were enrolled in the residential program, and were recently reunified to live with their father, who is disabled.
Hannah’s school organized a quiz and debate competition for 16 children across 3 classes (JSS1, JSS2, and JSS3), to observe the African Day of the Child commemoration, with the objective to identify competent pupils in the school. Questions were designed and selected for all junior secondary school subjects.
At the end of the competition, Hannah Smith emerged as the victor in the debate category for JSS 1 and a certificate was presented to her in recognition of her participation and achievement.
“I was really happy,” Hannah said. “The reason I’m so happy is that when I stood for the competition and won it, my friends were all very happy for me. I studied hard to bring success, encouraging other children in my community, the CRC program, and in the school to be bold and study hard.” Hannah shared her thanks and appreciation for the teachers in the school for helping to prepare her.
Hannah also gives credit to the CRC staff as well for helping her to be successful. As a result of CRC support and what they had taught her, Hannah benefitted from their stories, reading, devotions, and preaching of the gospel.
One of the school’s teachers, Mr. Ibrahim Sillah said “Hannah Smith is one of our best students in the school and it was not a surprise she came out as the victor in the competition. And as for her performance in class, she came in second in the first examination, first in the second examination and we hope she will earn the best result in the ongoing examination!”
- Deborah Kanneh, Family Care Program Coordinator
Sponsors Gaylew and Roger Hutchison were excited to hear Hannah's news. "We're very proud of Hannah!" Gaylew exclaimed. Roger shares his wife's pride, "We're so very proud that she is our sponsored child." Hannah displays her certificate, joined by FCP Coordinator Deborah Kanneh, and her teacher Mr. Sillah.
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them.
On June 26, 2018, the Child Rescue Centre held a solemn, yet joyful ceremony to celebrate the reunification of the twenty remaining residential students, who went to live with their "forever families."
The CRC is in the forefront of the international movement to move children out of orphanages, as UNICEF and other child-focused organizations across the globe recognize that caring families are far better at raising emotionally and mentally healthy children than institutions.
The event was attended by the children and their families, the CRC staff, Bishop John Yambasu, Mrs. Olivia Fonnie, and representatives from SOS Children's Village and the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Even though there were some emotional moments, the overwhelming sentiment was joyful anticipation for the children as they go to live with their "forever families." The parents were assured of the organization’s support for their children, who will remain enrolled as CRC students, and come to the CRC compound to attend activities and stay connected.
The following dignitaries and honored guests spoke:
Bishop John K. Yambasu, Sierra Leone Annual Conference
This is an occasion for thanksgiving to God after almost 18 years. From the very humble beginnings near the market, up to this time. Until we appreciate ourselves and what we have done, we cannot appreciate God. I really want to appreciate CRC staff, you are nothing but the best. We have gone through so many transitions together. Children have come and gone, staff have come and gone. It has been a struggle. Many people when they come to a job, come to serve themselves. But this is not correct. We need to serve humanity and serve God.
We are not really closing the residence. We will still maintain a transit home for emergency cases that the Ministry of Social Welfare can recommend to us. This will only be a short-term and temporary transit home.
It is a blessing to be a parent, and it comes with so much responsibility. I give these caregivers the advice to treat the children in your care as if they were your own children. If someone looks at your family, they should not be able to know who is your real biological child and who is not. With love, we will come to help empower you to be the best parents you can be.
I want to say thanks and appreciation to Social Welfare. They have been working with us since the beginning. We are smaller than some of the other NGOs. But we are a strong faith-based organization, and we became the best child care organization.
Nobody can do this work alone. I want to thank all the staff, the UMC staff, Olivia, Rev Charley, and our partners at HCW. All of this started with me and Rev. Tom Berlin. Then we started getting one partner church, than two, and now we have 17 partner churches. I want to thank them so much for all their support over the years. It is really not easy for them to raise money for us, they work so hard. They are the only ones supporting us and we are so grateful to them.
We have had some bitter experiences with reunification in the past. We used to have the children in the home for so long. They would stay until they were 18 years old. Some came in at 7 years old and would spend 10, 12 years in the home. Once they left they had a hard time because outside there was no control. They were not able to adjust well and they fell into trouble.
Of course, some really did well. This man here, 18 years ago, was one of you here, one of the first children in this program. Now he is the Director. Honestly, I don’t want to embarrass him, but we have had 5 or 6 Directors and he has been the best one. He takes this as his family, as his home and he wants only the best for it. Its not about money.
Many of the children here have gone on to do great things: doctors, architects, and many work here at CRC. That’s the profit we get. That is the greatest benefit we get from this work, to see all the wonderful things the children will do.
Mabel Mustapha, Reunification Chairperson and Education Manager
Today is a very important day in the history of our organization. This is the last reunification ceremony. The children will finally be reunited with their families. There have been many reunifications, the first one was in 2012, but this will be the last. For me, I am happy because we started this two years ago with training and preparing the families. So we know the parents and the children are both ready for this because we have helped to build a bond for these families.
Olivia Fonnie, CRC Supervisory Chair
I would like to speak directly to the parents. Because I am a parent and I know how difficult it can be. Please, let us have patience with them. One day your child may come to you and ask for something that you do not have in your hand. Please be patient with them and gently explain to them that things are different in your home and that you don’t have everything they might have at CRC. Use your stipend wisely and for the benefit of your children for their schooling. Thank you for taking them, God will surely bless you.
Mohamed Nabieu, CRC Director
Anything God asks you to do, do it to the best of your ability. Do it so you can sleep well at night with a clear conscience that you did your best. We made sure that all of you are biologically related. The best thing for a child is to be raised in the home with their real relatives.
I am proud of where I came from, I am so thankful for all the CRC has done for me. After the war, I was separated from my family and there was no choice other than to go to the orphanage. Up to date, I still struggle to know my extended family because I never was able to connect with them. It really bothers me.
80% - 90% of children in orphanages have a living parent. They go into orphanages because of poverty. Why are you doing something for somebody when they can do it themselves? Children need to know their roots and be with their forever family. Parents need to have the opportunity to raise their own children.
Your children are precious to us but they need to be with you. We will continue supporting them so you can be a family. You are going to have challenges. Here in the home there is a strict schedule. There is a time for everything. There are many rules. It will be different for the children to be in the community. We are moving our focus from an individual child to the entire family. This is so the family can support all the children and become sustainable and move out of poverty.
Hawa Koker, Director of SOS Children's Village
I want to congratulate the CRC for the bold step they have taken in this direction. I want to thank all these partners. We realize that we need to make these changes. Honestly, we are not on the right track. This poverty issue is really true for us in Sierra Leone and it makes children come to the orphanage. We need to work together to share data.
I agree with the Director about the best place for a child. Its not easy for people to embrace it. We are struggling. We have 150 children in the village. Its just not easy. I know we are resistant to change but this change is the best for the children. Many children in our program have families. Their families cannot even visit them without a pass. Some family homes are so close to the village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
Some family homes are so close to the [SOS] village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back, because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
We have started allowing the children to go home to their families on some weekends or holidays. It is not forced. We have 150 children and on those weekends maybe only 5 children will stay back in the village. So that means that obviously SOS is not the place for them to be. If you keep somebody for 18 years they have to come back to us. They don’t know anything about being outside.
We need to continuously check ourselves and see if it is in the interest of the child. When the children come back to SOS after being with their families, they cry. You can never replace blood. Blood is blood. Let's join together and do the best we can for the children. We are creating an empire for a small number and when they mix with other children, they see them as nothing. Differences are there. Poverty is not an excuse.
Patrick Bangura, Director Ministry of Social Welfare
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them. They are not able to adjust back. We appreciate the steps of CRC that they are following the laws. I am really happy to hear about the interim care home because we have critical cases. Recently CRC helped us with one of those and we are so grateful. Sierra Leone does not have orphans. There always has to be a relative, an auntie or an uncle. You just need to trace them.
Aminata Mansary, President, Children’s Voice
I am happy for CRC because it has helped my educational life and it has helped my spiritual life. I am sure CRC will still support me and help me to grow and learn. I want to say thank you to the staff and thank you to my brothers and sisters.
Sallay Mattia, Caregiver
We are so happy because of this. Thank you for taking care of our children. Thank you for teaching us and training us. We are so happy when the children come to visit us and stay with us. We are excited to have them at home now. We are happy to have your support and thank you all.
Abduali Dakowa, CRC student
On behalf of the children, I want to thank everyone for all they have done for us. We thank the staff for taking good care of us and helping us to learn. We thank the partners for everything. We are very happy and love you all.
Musu Mansary, Caregiver
I am so happy that the children are coming to stay with me. It is very good. They are nice girls and I am glad they will be with me. Thank you to CRC for helping us.
Visitors to the Missionary Training Centre always rave about the delicious Sierra Leone cuisine dished up by MTC Manager Fudia Ernest and her amazing staff. It's mild enough for American palates, but with a deliciously piquant African flair, satisfying to body and soul. Many have wondered if they could learn how to make some of Fudia's spicy entrees when they return home.
Well, now you can, starting with "Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew," a crowd pleaser for missioners and Sierra Leoneans alike (download the recipe below.) Groundnuts (as West Africans refer to peanuts) form the base for a rich chicken stew flavored with jalapenos and served over rice. The secret ingredient is Maggi seasoning, available on Amazon (your purchase supports Helping Children Worldwide) or at Lotte stores locally.
Coming soon, Helping Children Worldwide will be publishing Fudia's Cookbook, which will be available for purchase on our website, all proceeds to benefit the Missionary Training Centre and missions in Sierra Leone. Stay tuned!
Fudia Ernest (below) cooks her amazing culinary creations on an open fire in the kitchen hut behind the MTC.
Fudia's Famous Groundnut Stew
1. Clean and roughly chop the onions, tomatoes, and spring onions. Set aside.
2. In food processor, grind together garlic and desired amount of jalapeños.
3. Season chicken pieces to taste using Maggi seasoning or Season-All. Add garlic/jalapeño mix to
4. Place seasoned chicken pieces in large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook
for 5 – 10 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from pot. Set stock aside for later use.
6. In another large stock pot, heat 1⁄2 inch of vegetable oil on medium to medium-high heat.
Carefully add chicken pieces to oil and fry until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and
drain off excess oil. (TIP: to avoid overcrowding your pan, fry chicken in batches)
7. Using the same oil from frying the chicken, add onions and tomatoes and cook over medium heat
8. Add peanut butter to vegetables and cook until combined, stirring.
9. Add reserved stock to the peanut butter mixture. Simmer over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.
(If stew seems too thick, add water to mixture to increase volume)
10. Add chicken pieces and tomato paste to peanut butter mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce
to a simmer over medium heat for 20 – 40 minutes, until thickened.
11. While stew is cooking, make rice of choice to pour stew over.
12. When the stew has thickened, remove from heat and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. It will continue to
13. Serve over rice and enjoy!
*TIP: If you don’t want to butcher, feel free to buy chicken pieces at the grocery store.
Salimatu Sungu is a 4 year old girl who was admitted to Mercy with severe vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea is extremely deadly in children under five, because their small body size makes them much more susceptible to dehydration than adults. Mercy was able to dehydrate Salimatu and within 12 hours of receiving the treatment, she was feeling much better, although extremely sleepy!
Dr. Amara conducted maternal mortality training for the nurses, maternity department, and CHOs of Mercy Hospital last Wednesday. It was recently announced that Bo district has the highest maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone. The district medical officer has called an emergency meeting this week to discuss this silent epidemic. Notably, Mercy Hospital has had no maternal deaths in 2018.
"This was more of a review for the staff on the basics that they already know," Dr. Amara explained. "Maternal mortality is very serious and we want to make sure that they are able to understand all of these principles offhand. We are going to give them an exam this Wednesday to see how much they have understood. From there, we will know what specific areas of training we need to review to make sure they are able to be most effective at their work."