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.
As a young boy, Amara Foday enrolled in the Child Rescue Centre's Child Support Program, but dropped out of school at the end of Junior Secondary when he failed to pass the difficult BECE national exam for promotion to Senior Secondary.
It's not an unusual occurrence for kids who come from backgrounds of extreme poverty in Sierra Leone, as they may be too disadvantaged to succeed academically by the time they start school, hampered by a host of problems associated with poverty like early malnutrition, chronic illness, itinerancy, or family dysfunction.
In spite of these obstacles, Amara persevered in his desire to learn a marketable skill. He had stayed connected to the CRC and applied to the CRC for a Promise Scholarship to attend vo tech school. The CRC was pleased to offer Amara a scholarship to pursue vocational training at Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrialization Centre. Amara used his scholarship to become a welding technician, a highly sought after skill in Sierra Leone as construction keeps pace with the population increase.
Amara has now completed his welding program and will officially graduate in December. He is currently working with a team in Freetown to demolish the houses destroyed by mudslides last year.
As he discusses his future, Amara has already started thinking about how to give back to his nation of Sierra Leone. "My career plans are to own a private welding and metal workshop to employ and train youths on metal work, and with that I can contribute in nation building, " Amara told CRC Counselor Victor Kanu. "The CRC has impacted my life in many ways, but more especially to make me to become somebody in the society by achieving my goal to be a welder and becoming independent," he added.
"My advice to a student hoping to earn a Promise Scholarship is to stay focused and work very hard in order to achieve the good result to develop ourselves and the country," Amara counsels aspiring scholars. "The CRC Promise scholarship means a lot to me, as it has helped me transformed my life, contributing to my family and the country as a whole."
Amara hopes to open a private welding and metal workshop to train youth like himself, "With that I can contribute to nation building."
17 month old Mohamed, admitted to Mercy Hospital with severe anemia caused by malaria, would die if he didn't receive a blood transfusion, but his O negative blood type is extremely rare and none of his family members could donate. Nurse Karen Hall, who was serving with the July UMVIM team, shares his blood type and gladly volunteered to donate. The family was so grateful to Karen, who truly saved their son's life. Read Karen's story:
"I was all set to go on our team's second medical outreach. I had some time on my hands, so I was visiting with (Medical Programs Field Director Specialist) Kim Sprout at the MTC. Gary, our team doctor walked in pointed at me and said, "what's your blood type?" I told him O negative and he looked like he had seen a ghost. He explained that there was a baby with severe malaria and needed a transfusion. It was virtually impossible to find O negative, and if they found it, it would not make it to Mercy in time to save the baby. Apparently only 7% of the world's population has 0 negative blood type. Gary was not expecting any of the team to be a match. Gary asked me if I was willing to donate, and of course I was. Anyone on our team would have been.
Gary said he would let Mercy know and let me know what they said. He must have run, because in no time he was back at the MTC. I went to the lab and George (the Mercy lab manager) did a type and screen on my blood and the next thing I knew the donation had begun. Before I knew it, the donation was complete. I went over to Mercy to let the CHO Deborah know I was finished. I started getting sick and she sent me upstairs to rest.
Over the next few hours, I found myself praying with all my heart that the baby would live, that the transfusion would be successful. Before I left the hospital I peeked in on the baby. The mom looked worried out of her mind. I know that look. The baby was receiving the transfusion at that time and was not looking so good. I prayed with all my heart that this would be a story of life. As we know HIs ways are not our ways and our hearts desires are not always the answer. The spirit continues to whisper the same familiar thing..."trust me."
That evening Gary had received a good report from Mercy and was very hopeful the transfusion was a success. Later that night there was a complete lunar eclipse, a blood moon. It was only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. I felt like I was in a living Bible story.
So often it is hard to see our purpose. To "know that we know that we know" that we are called to something or somewhere. This one time, God gave my heart a beautiful gift too. He gave me something that only I could do at that time. He used something that He gave me when He knit me together in my mother's womb. I think we all have times in our lives where we struggle with our purpose. I have been in that season for a while now. Not on that day or that night...and because of that beautiful gift, not today. I know my purpose, to follow HIS voice.
Sweet little Mohamed who was 17 months old went home the following Monday. His family was full of thanks. It was humbling to be thanked for something that had blessed our entire team. Mohamed's family is Muslim, and I love it that on that day we were all one. In it together. Saving each other."