Promise Scholar Musa Massaquoi recently graduated Njala University with a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Social Work. Musa lost his mother at a very young age and was raised by his father, a subsistence farmer, in a village near Bo. Education was always a problem, but he persevered through the obstacles posed by extreme poverty and achieved his dream of graduating from university.
Child Rescue Centre Case Manager Victor Kanu talked to Musa about his journey to achieve his dream of getting an education.
"Since I was schooling in the village, things were very challenging for me. I lost my mother when I was in Class 2. I continued to struggle until I sat to the National Primary School Examination (NPSE), wherein I scored very good grades. Upon enrollment into Junior Secondary, my education became a problem. My father depended on subsistence farming and had other children and relatives to care for.
I was driven from school for not paying the fees. I was really ashamed and felt dehumanized in the eyes of my colleagues.
In JSS 1, I was driven from school for not paying the fees. I was really ashamed and felt dehumanized in the eyes of my colleagues. It was through the merciful grace of God that I was noticed by the CRC during their assessment. I was recommended by one of the church members, and later enrolled into the program.
As a recipient of a Promise Scholarship, the CRC created several positive impacts to help me actualize my dream of success towards my education. The CRC changed my life through their moral ethics and Christian values, helping me become obedient, dedicated, honest, open-mind, humble, and hardworking, both in academic and other facets of life.
I learned good judgment, responsibility, and good study habits. The CRC trained and guided me to be an upstanding citizen with moral values, trust, and dedication to serving my people.
I am convinced that life without the support of other people is of no importance. This will really come to play when that individual is yet to achieve his or her dream, and their chances are limited. This is very common in Sierra Leone. I happened to be one of those many children that felt the pinch of poverty in Sierra Leone. The CRC saw fit to invest in me, as I went from high school to university.
And today I am one of the flag bearers of change in Sierra Leone and the world at large. This opportunity brings me to the forefront of building my human resource capacity. This is very essential in developing any state. Becoming a social worker today is a blessing in disguise. And if there are any other humanitarian organizations that have the same vision in Sierra Leone, they are going to make a sound meaning in our society and the world at large.
Dreams die slowly when opportunities are absent.
The CRC provided financial assistance for relevant learning materials, supported lodging for the first year of my university education, counseling support, and medical services.
My advice to colleagues, brothers and sisters: to focus on their academic work to maintain this wonderful opportunity, as many others are yearning to enjoy such a chance. They should be dedicated, hardworking, obedient, God-fearing and honest in all their undertakings, and they should think of their background, so as to step forward to completely change the lives of their families and communities of origin. They might be the only hope."
Francess Batty's father was one of the hundreds of heroic health care workers who died caring for Ebola patients. (The Ebola heroes who are giving their lives for others, January 16, 2015, The Telegraph.) While working as a community health worker at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Samuel Batty contracted Ebola from a pregnant woman, and transmitted the disease to his wife. Both Samuel and his wife died, leaving their four children orphaned.
Francess, who was in her second year at Njala University, became the provider and caretaker for her younger sisters and brother. At the recommendation of the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Child Rescue Centre reached out to the family and began providing them assistance. Francess, who was already a student at Njala University, applied for and was granted a Promise Scholarship, so she could complete her degree and continue to take care of her younger siblings.
In June, Francess graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting with honors. In an interview with CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu, Francess expressed her gratitude for the help and encouragement she received during a very desperate time in her life.
"In the first place I want to appreciate Child Rescue Centre for taking me this far. Since I lost both parents during the Ebola saga, CRC has been my help so I want to express my thanks, and may God bless the CRC. With the help of CRC, I can be proud of being a graduate from Njala University.
I thank my sponsors Matt and Beth Reed, and pray for God’s abundant blessings for them. Also my appreciation to the staff, especially the guidance counselor [Princess Kawa] who played a great role by advising me to make good use of the opportunity given to me by the CRC and to always be a good example.
The Promise Scholarship that was awarded to me has helped me so much in achieving my dreams, since I was in second year and now I am a graduate. In addition to my tuition, the CRC has been providing me a monthly stipend to pay my transport fare, provided textbooks, and relevant learning materials for me to study hard.
As I have got my first degree, my future career plans are to further my studies to acquire my master’s degree, and also gain a good job for me to take care of my younger ones, because I am the eldest in my family.
In five years from now, I hope to be in another level. I would like to be a role model in the society, having a good job or even have plans to gain further scholarship.
For the younger ones who are in JSS and SS, my advice is for them to focus on their studies, be good boys and girls and to make good use of the opportunities CRC is offering to them, which is a huge blessing.
Francess, left, in her graduation gown, and with CRC guidance counselor Princess Kawa. "I want to be a role model," Francess says.
Mercy Hospital's HIV/AIDS team received high praise from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation for their impressive results with clients identified with HIV/AIDS.
"The National Secretariat of HIV/AIDS made a call lavishing praises on the Mercy Hospital HIV/AIDS Unit for their continuing follow-up with clients identified with the virus," Mercy Hospital Administrator Jinnah Lahai reported. "Out of 70 samples sent for viral load case definition, 35 have been reported 'target not-detected.' Meaning, these clients can no longer transfer the virus as long as they continue their treatment. Special bravo to Mercy Hospital's HIV/AIDS Counselor Mr. Mohamed Koroma and his team for their continuing follow-up on these clients," he added.
When an HIV/AIDS patient achieves an undetectable viral load, it means that the level of HIV in the blood is below the threshold needed for detection, and indicates that the antiretroviral treatment is working. It does not mean the patient is cured, but it should mean that they are no longer infectious and will not transfer the virus to their sexual partner, as long as they continue treatment.
HIV/AIDS is a life-long disease and cannot be cured. However, it is possible to delay the onset of AIDS, and many HIV positive people are now able to live a healthy and normal lifespan by adhering to the treatment regimen. If taken daily, AZT, the most common treatment, prevents HIV from progressing to AIDS (Acquired Immune Definiciency Syndrome), and brings the viral load down and "suppresses" it so that it is undetectable. The client is still HIV-positive (infected with the human immunodeficiency virus) but they are extremely unlikely to infect other people with HIV. This is especially good news for pregnant women and couples that are called "discordant" (one is HIV-positive and one is negative).
"It's wonderful Mercy is having these results," reported Medical Programs Field Director Specialist Kim Nabieu. "It means that the HIV unit is really good at following up with its clients and encouraging them to take their treatment. This is not an easy task, as many people live in denial and do not like to accept that they are positive."
Mercy Hospital HIV Counselor Mohamed Koroma, AHF representative Rosaline, and team conduct HIV/AIDS testing on village outreach. Mohamed's team received high praise from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health for their good results with clients.
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