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.
Rice is among the most common staple foods in Africa, and thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® our partner in Sierra Leone, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), has been able to significantly increase its rice production significantly.
FHDO executive director Rev. Francis Mambu recently posted on social media that it has “officially launched its new brand of parboiled quality rice and is all set for market” in 25kg and 50kg (55 pounds and 100 pounds) at a cost of Le175,000 and Le350,000 ($17.34 and $34.90) respectively, which amounts to 31 cents per pound.
Rev. Mambu also announced that they are currently harvesting 500 acres of rice “the second-largest local farm rice in the country,” all in a bid to help 450 women from six local villages who have formed a women’s farmers group to work at the rice farm.
We are, of course, overjoyed with Rev. Mambu’s success, but we would be remiss not to recognize our supporters, and our partners here in the U.S. including Arms Around Africa, which provides administrative support, and the Royer Family Foundation which provided FHDO with two tractors and other farming equipment including pillows, hummer mills, grain thrasher, and more.
Thanks to our faithful donors and supporters for enabling us to fund part of the construction of the milling house. Very soon a milling house at the Faith Healing Agricultural Project (FHAP) at Yankansa village will be operational for the milling of its rice, as well as provide jobs for women from the nearby villages will be completed soon.
Rev. Mambu had noted that FHAP has had to keep much of the rice it produces in storage due to the fact that the farm currently lacks a milling house to had value to the rice and make it more marketable.
“Unmilled rice is cheap as the demand is comparatively low,” he informed us. “The need for a milling machine cannot be over-emphasized.”
And, just as Rev. Mambu is, we cannot wait for that day to arrive providing thousands of Sierra Leonean children, parents and elders will a belly full of processed rice every day.
Jeneba is grateful to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® for making it possible to for us to provide funding for our partner Rural Youth Development Organization Sierra Leone enabling us to renovations its Mokoba clinic where she gave birth to twins.
In addition to receiving health care for indigent people such as Jeneba the clinic also provided her with food and free medicines.
“I was blessed because when I saw the newly rehabilitated clinic,” she told us. “Thanks to the Mokoba clinic run by RYDO-SL and God almighty for the survival of my twins and me.”
Peter is the town chief of the Mokoba community is another who expressed his sincere gratitude for the clinic including the furniture, medical supplies and medicines.
“Before, nurses would have to tell patients that there were no medicines at the clinic and patients would have to return home sick,” says Peter. “But since Bread and Water for Africa started working with RYDO-SL there has been a reduction of illness in my community.”
And Frances is a nurse who has working at the clinic for four years and explained that the health center was in danger of being closed by the government due to a damaged roof and told of having to assist a pregnant woman in the rain as the roof was not in such poor condition.
“With the rehabilitation of the Mokoba clinic the health center is now receiving many patients who are reporting very positive results with the treatment we offer them,” said Francis.
Medicine Distribution to Health Centers in Sierra Leone
“While so much about the virus and how it operates remains unclear, sub-Saharan Africa so far has dodged a deadly wave of coronavirus cases.” — The Washington Post, September 22, 2020
While that may be true in terms of confirmed cases and deaths, the impact of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is being felt throughout sub-Saharan Africa as many low- and now no-income Africans are struggling to just get enough to eat.
In countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe, our partners the Kabawta Orphanage and Transit Centre and the Lerato Children’s Village respectively, are relying on an additional grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® to purchase food for the orphaned and destitute children in their care in the face of rampant inflation where the prices of basic foodstuffs are increasing on a daily basis.
In Sierra Leone, where thankfully as of September 23, there have been just 72 coronavirus-related deaths, Bread and Water for Africa® and our partner there, Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL), have been working hand-in-hand to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
This summer, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba, turned to Bread and Water for Africa® with an urgent plea for assistance in providing materials and supplies to make reusable face masks.
“The use of face masks by the target communities to impede COVID-19 transmission will limit the contact of infected individuals via physical distancing and contact tracing with appropriate quarantine and secondly reduce the transmission probability per contact by wearing face masks in public among other measures,” said Joseph.
“The decreased transmission will reduce the death rate and economic impact, while the cost of locally-made face masks is low.”
Throughout the sub-Saharan African countries where we work, the numbers of deaths and confirmed cases is just a very small percentage of the millions of cases and more than 200,000 deaths we have experienced here in the United States, the total number of deaths in those countries is reaching 3,000 according to the World Health Organization with: Cameroon – 416 deaths, 20,598 confirmed cases, with a population of 18.8 million; Chad – 81, 1,153, 10.3 million; Ethiopia – 1,108, 69,709, 85.2 million; Kenya – 650, 37,079, 39 million; Sierra Leone – 72, 2168, 6.1 million; Uganda – 63, 6,468, 32.3 million; Zambia – 331, 14,175, 11.8 million; and Zimbabwe – 225, 7,683, 11.3 million.
In addition, this year we have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical supplies to our partners in Sierra Leone such as (RYDO-SL) and Ethiopia, such as Haramaya University community hospitals and clinics, where medicines and medical supplies are desperately needed.
In countries which have closed schools due to the pandemic, such as in Cameroon, Chad, and Sierra Leone, we have received reports that classes will be resuming soon in a safe and responsible manner at which time we will be able to resume our school fee program providing hundreds of children the opportunity to get an education.
And in Uganda, while our water protection project in cooperation with our partner there, Bega Kwa Bega, to prevent springs that serve numerous communities was put on hold, we are pleased to report that it has now resumed.
All of what we have been able to accomplish this year to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives is due wholly to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, without which none of this would have been possible.
In Sub-Saharan African countries such as Sierra Leone, the coronavirus pandemic has closed schools for months and because the vast majority have been unable to make the transition to online education, school closures have widening the pre-existing gap between how much rich children and poor children learn.
In Sierra Leone, it is estimated that only less than 5% of students have access to a computer at home, and more than half live in households that don’t even have electricity. In the world’s poorest countries, as many as 80 percent of children cannot read by age 10, and as school closures drag on, this crisis risks becoming a catastrophe.
But in Sierra Leone, we are seeing hope.
Schools in Sierra Leone closed for eight months in 2014-2015 to stop the spread of Ebola, and today the country is using the lessons learned during that crisis to provide inclusive remote learning as only 13 percent of the country’s households are connected to the internet.
And as the COVID-19 pandemic is stabilizing in the country, our longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, founder and executive director of Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO) which operates several primary and secondary schools, informed us recently nursery schools have already reopened with, primary and secondary schools for follow next month.
According to CNBC Africa, as of September 8, there have been just over 2,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total of 71 deaths in a country with a population of eight million residents, and government and school officials have determined that it is safe for students to return to classrooms, with precautions.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, over the years we have been able to assist Rev. Mambu and FHDO construct schools and add classrooms, supplement teachers’ salaries so they can continue support themselves, and most importantly, provide scholarships and assist with the school fees for hundreds of students who attend FHDO’s five primary schools and four secondary schools which serve a combined student body population of 533 boys and 515 girls, 1,048 students in all.
Among those who are able to attend FHDO’s Logos Academy, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® is Ernest, whose mother is a petty trader selling rice and spices at a local market, and father is a police officer working as a security guard.
Rev. Mambu tells us that Ernest has a passion to become a medical doctor and the drive and determination to make his dream a reality. Even though both his parents work, their meager incomes are barely enough to keep the family fed and a roof over their heads, and it is only through the Bread and Water for Africa® school fee assistance program that this bright, promising student can continue his education.
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, including operating a health clinic and pharmacy in the village of Mokoba where medical care is drastically needed.
This spring, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba 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.
However, instead of simply providing RYDO-SL with thousands of single-use face masks which would be discarded, we decided to go one better.
Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide grant funding to RYDO-SL to purchase enough fabric and sewing machines to enable local tailors to generate income for themselves by making the 3,000 face masks to be distributed to RYDO-SL medical staff and vulnerable members of the community.