In addition to, of course, food security and access to clean, safe water, addressing the lack of adequate healthcare is the most pressing need in Sub-Saharan Africa today, especially in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the impoverished country of Sierra Leone, people are literally in desperate need medicines and the clinics and hospitals we support are suffering shortages of medical supplies and equipment.
In 2014-2015, when Sierra Leone was seriously affected by the deadly Ebola virus which caused almost 11,000 deaths and more than 25,000 life-threatening infections the country’s fragile healthcare system nearly collapsed.
Five years later, with the country is still recovering from that epidemic, today its healthcare system is reeling under the strains of coronavirus as hundreds of healthcare workers in the national health sector have succumbed to the virus due to the lack of proper protection equipment.
This terrible situation has led to the shuttering of hospitals which has left countless thousands of Sierra Leoneans without treatment and care when they have contracted possibly deadly illnesses including malaria, pneumonia and waterborne diseases.
Today, all of Sierra Leone, as is most of the world, is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and we are being asked to help send vitally needed medical supplies like hospital beds, blankets, mosquito nets, anti-biotic medicines, surgical gloves, thermometers, stethoscopes, and hospital supplies.
The small farming community named Mokoba has a population of about 5,600 with almost 75 per cent being women and children. The farming community is among the poorest in Sierra Leone, with farmers struggling to barely grow enough to feed the village and having nothing extra to sell to get money for medicines or medical help.
To address this growing crisis, we hope to soon be shipping a 40-foot container filled with the brim of medicines and medical supplies to the Mokoba clinic and others nearby to help ensure that no one who needs medical care is not turned away without the treatment they need to survive.
Medicines, medical supplies and equipment are always in short supply in the rural regions of sub-Saharan African countries, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its spread throughout the continent these items are needed now more than ever.
This month, we are planning on shipping a 40-foot container full these life-saving supplies and materials to our partner in Sierra Leone, the United Methodist Church – Sierra Leone Annual Conference Health Board (UMC-SLAC HB) for distribution to its clinics and hospitals throughout the country.
This shipment will mark the second of such shipments this year of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medicines and medical supplies for clinics and hospitals in communities such as Rotifunk, Kulanda Town, Manokoh, Taiama Town, and others which serve well over 50,000 indigent and low-income Sierra Leoneans every year.
With the coronavirus pandemic starting to spread in May, UMC-SLAC HB health coordinator Catherine Norman reported upon receiving the previous shipment that “The donated medicines and medical supplies were well-timed and with certainty the need was colossal and consequently produced a helpful effect to the eight CHASL health facilities at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone began in 1855, and 165 years later is still continuing its efforts to improve the lives of impoverished Sierra Leoneans in the areas of education, community development and especially health care.
(As an aside, we were saddened to learn that UMC Resident Bishop John Yambasu was tragically killed in an automobile accident in August while on his way to preach a funeral service for one of his ministers. He is greatly missed by the UMC community around the world and all Sierra Leoneans, and of course by all of us here at Bread and Water for Africa®.)
As the UMC-SL noted in May following our first shipment in 2020, the result has been an uninterrupted supply of drugs, making for the constant availability of essential medicines always at the ready and free for the impoverished, while maintaining a high standard of quality care.
This partnership has provided “immediate emergency care for thousands of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans who were in desperate need and experiencing life-threatening health conditions,” stated the UMC-SL.
And now, through the generosity and compassion of our supporters, hopefully soon another shipment will be arriving in the country for distribution to the clinics and hospitals where these supplies are needed most.
“Once more thank you for your continued support,” said Catherine.
Our longtime partner in Cameroon, Hope Services Ministry International (HSMI), was founded in 1994 to provide humanitarian services including free and low-cost health care to tens of thousands of children, women, prisoners and vulnerable people in general.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, we were recently able to ship a 40-foot container containing medicines, body health care supplies for new mothers, medical supplies for hospitals and clinics such as sterile examination gloves and medical equipment including stretchers, wheelchairs, oxygen tubes, and more.
CEO Esther Ndichafah reported to us that they focused their distributions in local communities where there is much hardship is being experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nothing has really been small at such moments when people are struggling to meet their most basic needs,” says Esther.
For example, among the over-the-counter medicines HSMIs received is Zegerid, an antacid which is used to treat certain stomach and esophagus problems, such as acid reflux, ulcers and even prevent stomach bleeding in very ill patients, with Esther noting that “the prevalence of gastritis is relatively high, and this has helped many to find relief.”
Another seemingly small item that is greatly appreciated by nursing mothers is a body balm made of shea butter, with Esther saying that the skin rejuvenating properties of the body balm has helped many mothers with the post-delivery skin healing process.
In addition, HSMI was also able to partner with another non-profit organization to carry out a medical mission which treated many people with a variety of health conditions such as hernias and lipomas, an overgrowth of fat cells under the skin which become benign tumors and can cause pain, complications or other symptoms.
“The donated supplies were used in the surgical procedures,” she reported.
Although HSMI is located in Cameroon, it also regularly provides services to neighboring Chad which she notes is one of the poorest sub-Saharan African countries.
And with a life expectancy of about 52 years for women and 49 years for men, combined with poor healthcare infrastructure and being prone to conflicts, only makes matters worse.
“Some parts of the country are highly destitute including some of the villages we have been reaching out to,” said Esther. “These medications and relief items helped ameliorate their very basic lifestyle and every time they receive things of this nature, it meets a great need.”
And through the use of the medicines, supplies and equipment, HSMI is also able to provide healthcare to those who have fled their homes due to violence in their regions who are known as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“With the items we received through this shipment, we successfully reached out to hundreds of IDPs in Yaounde and Douala and less privileged people in our health care facilities,” she said. “And we are still reaching and planning to reach out to more people as the COVID-19 pandemic phases out.
“The donations were very timely given the various crises we have gone through in Cameroon in recent times, and many people have experienced untold hardships. It was a great relief to all age groups.”
And to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who help make all we do possible, Esther says:
“We wish to express our sincere gratitude for reaching out to thousands of Cameroonians. We count it a privilege that you trust and place such a responsibility in our hands.”
Nearly 10 years ago, the World Health Organization estimated that there were 15 million people in Ethiopia with disabilities, representing close to 20 percent of the population.
And according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 95 percent of those lived in poverty — the vast majority in rural areas, where basic services are limited and the chances of accessing rehabilitative or support services are remote.
In the past decade, sadly the situation has only gotten worse, not better.
That’s why at Bread and Water for Africa, we are partnering with a non-profit organization, joni&friends, to ship 240 wheelchairs, along with pairs of crutches, canes, walkers, and more, to our longtime partner in Ethiopia, Woldia University, in the Amhara region of the country.
As reported by university, which operates a College of Health which consists of a medical laboratory, and courses in public health and nursing, for the recipients of the wheelchairs and other items, will enrich their lives by making everyday activities simpler, “and eventually a lot more fun,” while also easing the burden of their family members assisting them as they embark on an independent life.
The primary beneficiaries will be disabled children, young and older disabled people. These individuals will be trained how to use the items by a physiotherapist.
Their names are Darrel, Ema, Makanaka, Nyarai and Margaret and they among the dozens of orphaned and abandoned African children who have found loving homes at children’s homes — Lewa Children’s Home in Kenya, Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia, and the Lerato Children’s Village in Zimbabwe supported by Bread and Water for Africa®.
And thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® they have a warm bed to sleep at night with a full belly and no worries of where their next meal is coming from, health care and an education — an opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive.
With no one else in the world to care for these innocent children who only want a chance in life, there’s no telling what their fates would be, what kind of future they would have… or tragically, even if they would have a future at all.
At the Lerato Children’s Village, which was recently constructed by Bread and Water for Africa® with the help of our supporters, up to 10 children live in a home with a “house mother,” as required by law in Zimbabwe as opposed to a dormitory-style setting.
Although it is a positive for children to be cared for in a more home-like setting, the cost per child is higher and the rampant inflation in the country makes matters worse, but director Margaret Makambira is determined to carry on her mission despite the challenges.
During the past 20 years Margaret, Lewa executive director (and Bread and Water for Africa® international spokesperson) Phyllis Keino and Kabwata executive director Angela Miyanda would never have been able to care for more than 3,000 of their countries’ most vulnerable children without the generous financial assistance of our supporters.
And because of our supporters, 7-year-old Darrel, who had been abandoned by his mother and living on the streets, 6-year-old Ema, who was born with HIV and abandoned, 14-year-old Makanaka, whose mother died when she was four, 2-year-old Nyarai, whose mother had just died, and 6-year-old Margaret, who was found abandoned, severely malnourished and unable to hear or talk, have all found homes — and new “mothers” and “families” who love them dearly.
For over20 years, Bread and Water for Africa® has been working in Sub-Saharan African countries such as Sierra Leone, Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Zambia to ensure that expectant mothers are able to safely give birth to healthy baby girls and boys.hos
Through our support of the construction of a new hospital operated by our partner Hope Services in Cameroon, the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya, and numerous clinics operated by our partners in Sierra Leone, we have strived to save the lives of mothers and their young children.
We can sympathize with the millions of mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa who lose their children to easily preventable diseases and malnutrition and mourn the deaths of their children for the rest of their lives.
That sad fact was brought home to us in a recent report stating that while most parents living in industrialized countries today reasonably presume that their children will survive childhood, but child death remains woefully common in some parts of the world, particularly in certain Sub-Saharan African countries where a baby born is roughly 20 times more likely to die in early childhood than a baby born in the U.S. or Western Europe.
The Washington Post reported that 3.3 million children died in 2018 in sub-Saharan Africa in 2018 alone.
And it is their mothers who bear the burden of grief.
According to the study, between one-fourth and one-half of women in sub-Saharan Africa lost a child during their lifetimes, and more than 20 percent had lost a child younger than 5 years old.
“In the shadows of the high child mortality rates are millions of grieving mothers who bear the personal, social and martial costs of a child’s death,” states the study, which points to a “bereavement burden” that affects what women worry about, how they make decisions and even how healthy they are.
In Kenya, the good news is that remarkable progress has been made in improving child survival over the past three decades, but the sad news is that there is still a long way to go as one in every 19 children not reaching their fifth birthday.
Over the past two decades, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, untold thousands of children grew up healthy and today are living happy successful lives with children of their own because of the health care their mothers received while expecting, and the health care they received as children at the free and low-cost clinics and hospitals operated by our partners.