Among our newest partners is the Rural Youth Development Organization Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) which has been serving impoverished communities in the Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom of the Bo District in the country.
“The goal of RYDO-SL is to transform communities by building capacities and promoting socio-economic development…and to transform and revitalize the lives of marginalized and oppressed populations in the communities,” says program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba.
Since its inception in 2000, RYDO-SL has cultivated more than 200 acres of inland swamp valley, distributed agricultural tools, and assorted vegetable seeds to women and youth groups in its service area with a population of more than 22,000.
Several years ago, RYDO-SL also constructed a four-room clinic and pharmacy in the village of Mokoba, which thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa last year, we were able to assist with a much-needed renovation of the clinic that was being threatened with closure due to its deteriorated condition.
Following the renovation, again thanks to our supporters, we were able to ship a 40-foot container filled to the brim with medicines, and medical supplies and equipment.
This spring, when the global coronavirus pandemic began spreading around the world, Joseph contacted us with a request for face masks to protect staff and patients at the clinic, as well as for those in the local communities RYDO-SL serves.
“Protecting Sierra Leone’s vulnerable rural poor, thousands whom live in squalid conditions with limited or no access to sanitation or healthcare and where the burden of infectious disease is already spreading,” Joseph told us in April when number of confirmed cases and deaths was relatively low in the country of more than 7.5 million.
However, by June 7, the number of confirmed cases was over 900 and nearly 50 deaths. This is particularly concerning in a country which is still recovering from the 11,000 deaths and 25,000 cases the country suffered during the Ebola virus outbreak of 2014/2015.
During the Ebola outbreak, Bread and Water for Africa was there for our partner in Sierra Leone, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO) providing Tyvek suits and other personal protection gear for its medical staff.
We applauded the heroic efforts of healthcare workers and we experienced first-hand the critical importance of PPE such as face masks following the death of a nurse, Monikeh Moses, an FHDO nurse who lost her life helping others as so many heroes in the United States and around the world are doing today.
Instead of simply providing RYDO-SL with thousands of single-use face masks which would be discarded, we decided to go one better.
Our goal is to provide grant funding to RYDO-SL to purchase enough fabric and sewing machines to employ a local tailor to make 3,000 face masks. The masks will be distributed to RYDO-SL medical staff and vulnerable members of the community, which is a gain for everyone involved.
In addition, any surplus proceeds would be used to restock supplies allowing RYDO to continue making more masks for those who need them.
“The project is a charitable activity and the good health of the target communities is what we aim to achieve,” says Joseph.