The Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) operates the Mokoba Health Center in a rural region where most of the residents of the area are subsistence farmers with an average number of six children who struggle simply to survive on what they can grow.
“People living in this community are in the condition of extreme poverty, and consequently they have not [the] possibility of affording the cost of basic needs such as food, education and healthcare,” says program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba, adding that 80 percent live in “absolute poverty, with income below $1 a day.”
Without access to the free clinic, parents seeking medical treatment for their children or themselves have no choice but to go untreated, or possibly worse as Joseph tells us that “for any chronic or severe diseases they have to depend solely on quacks.
“The quacks are not trained. They depend on limited indigenous knowledge.”
For those very few who have the means, and the strength, their only option is to travel long distances on rough roads to the nearest available clinic or hospital.
Joseph noted that this is especially dangerous for women about to give birth who cannot make it to a faraway medical facility “and are compelled to give birth under the open sky.”
However, Joseph is concerned the Mokoba clinic could be forced to shut down if necessary repairs are not made immediately.
“If the health center is not rehabilitated soon, the maternal mortality, child mortality and morbidity rates will begin increasing day after day,” he told us.
RYDO-SL was established in 1996 by a group of young men and women who wanted to contribute to their community through sustainable development and became officially registered as a Community Based Organization and recognized by the government of Sierra Leone.
The mission and goal of RYDO-SL is “To transform and revitalize the lives or the marginalized and oppressed populations in the communities” and “To rehabilitate a local referral facility providing emergency and immediate healthcare services for Mokoba and its environs.”
In addition to operating the Mokoba clinic, RYDO-SL promotes sustainable agriculture, women and youth empowerment, emergency relief and community rehabilitation projects.
Joseph explained that the need for a clinic is particularly critical in the Mokoba community where life expectancy, at 38 years compared with 45 years for the rest of the country (and compared to the worldwide rate of 71 years according to the World Health Organization) is the lowest in the world out of 183 countries.
The region also experiences high rates of endemic diseases, especially malaria, Typhoid fever, dysentery, yellow fever and HIV/AIDS, as well as from the Ebola virus outbreak of just a few years ago.
“Disease looms as a menace in the region,” says Joseph.
The nearest government hospital to Mokoba provides healthcare services “at a cost which is hard to afford by the rural people.
“Health is wealth, and for a community of 5,600 people if deprived of a free healthcare services will return to the service of quack treatment.
“With proper and adequate health delivery services at their disposal, the people of Mokoba and the four surrounding villages would in the long-term improve their living conditions.”
The people there had long lacked a health care facility in their community until 2000 when RYDO-SL constructed the health clinic, but now, almost 20 years later, the clinic building is in desperate need of rehabilitation, and the people it serves are in desperate need of continuing health care.