The Child Reintegration Centre was treated to a special visit from their founder, Bishop John Yambasu, who helped the CRC case managers distribute solar powered radios to students. As part of its COVID response, the CRC is providing students with solar powered radios, so they can keep up with government sponsored radio broadcasts during school closures. This is especially critical for students who are slated to take promotional exams to advance to the next level of their education, and these students are receiving the radios first. So far 183 radios have been distributed. The students also received face masks and time tables for the radio programs.
While the developed world has shifted to online learning during the pandemic, this is not an option for the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, and certainly not for families served by the CRC. By providing children with solar powered radios, even those whose homes lack electricity can listen to the daily education broadcasts.
In case you didn't know, the CRC owes its existence to Bishop Yambasu, who came to the US in 1999 seeking assistance for children orphaned or abandoned in the Sierra Leone civil war. His advocacy led to the launching of the Child Rescue Centre as a street feeding program, and later residential and family care initiative (renamed the Child Reintegration Centre in 2019.)
"I was excited to witness and be part of the radio distribution to the children in the midst of the many challenges students and teachers are facing. It is my hope that the radios will make a positive impact on the quality of results our children will bring at the end of their examinations," Bishop Yambasu said.
The bishop remains closely engaged in the work of the CRC to strengthen vulnerable families and reintegrate children with loving caregivers. You can read about the CRC's beginning here: www.helpingchildrenworldwide.org/our-story
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.
After serving as the Child Rescue Centre Director for more than two years, Mohamed Nabieu couldn’t leave the CRC and Sierra Leone without a very unique farewell. He took the opportunity to take the hardworking staff on a well-earned holiday but also ensured that the time spent away would continue to build the skills and capacity of the team by including time to continue refining their leadership skills. The event lasted for two days in February at Kent Beach.
Mrs. Olivia Fonnie, the Director of Christian Education\Specialized Ministry to Children, was on hand to present on the topic “Work Ethics,” explaining the importance of workplace ethics and providing examples. Fonnie also spoke about ways to demonstrate a strong work ethic, and discussed examples of ethics violations in the workplace. The presentation was followed by a highly interactive discussion among the staff.
Mohamed Nabieu’s presentations based on Patrick Lencioni’s work were on the five dysfunctions of a team,and the four disciplines of a healthy organization. Nabieu shared the dysfunctional interactions that can make an organization inefficient and ineffective, and urged the staff to embrace the four disciplines of healthy organizations instead. Staff were encouraged to continue to develop their skills in working cohesively, maintaining organizational clarity, communicating and even over-communicating, and reinforcing clarity through human systems.
The presentations shared by Mrs. Fonnie and Mr. Nabieu are built on an ongoing practice of weekly leadership discussions where staff read and reflect on various leadership materials in order to continue to be an organization of excellence.
Mercy Hospital’s Dr. Sao Amara, and Sister August Kpanabaum completed training in surgical obstetric training; specifically cesarean section, in the Phillipines. Sister Kpanabaum shared that they learned from several different lecturers covering a range of skills and topics related to obstetrics and maternity surgeries. Along with lecture and classroom time, Dr. Amara and Sr. Augusta were able to engage in hands-on training including practicals on various incision techniques, sterilization of instruments and the maintenance of a sterile theater and surgical field. Four students in the course came from Sierra Leone, 1 from Urban Centre Freetown, one from Rotifunk hospital, and two from Mercy Hospital. Other students in the course hailed from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Liberia.
To read more about the training, check out this article from UMC Mission!
Mercy received a blood bank on April 19, but is still in need of a solar system to ensure that the surgical ward, blood bank and Electronic Medical Information System has 24 hour power. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Saturday, January 12, five Mercy staff attended the "Helping Babies Breathe" training held in the Great Hall at the CRC. The training, arranged by Carol Nelson of Rural Health Initiative was led by neonatologist Dr. Sulaiman Sannoh. Dr. Sannoh, a native of Bo, is currently working in New Jersey.
Helping Babies Breathe teaches the initial steps of neonatal resuscitation to be accomplished within the first few moments after birth. The practice saves lives and gives a much better start to many babies who struggle to breathe at birth. The HBB curriculum was designed to specifically meet the needs of resource limited environments. HBB neonatal resuscitation techniques that have been shown to reduce neonatal mortality by up to 47% and fresh stillbirths by 24%.
Mercy's lead midwife, Hawa Koroma, found the training highly effective. "We were taught how to help babies breathe in case you deliver a baby that has a heartbeat, but is not breathing. We were able to practice using a NeoNatalie newborn simulator, which was very much like a real newborn. Mercy was able to keep three of these simulators as well as a wide variety of face masks and supplies we did not have in the maternity unit. Most of us had learned these techniques, but this was good practice, and we love having the new equipment."