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.
Although providing our partners with what they need has become more challenging since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19), rest assured, Bread and Water for Africa® continues to do everything in our power to make sure basic needs are met in the African countries where we work.
Recently, we shipped a 40-foot container filled with prenatal vitamins, antibiotics, and analgesics in cooperation with our longtime partner, MAP International.
“These much needed medicines will be distributed to [hospitals and clinics serving] orphans, vulnerable children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and expectant mothers in seven health facilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone,” stated MAP International.
MAP International continued:
“Our partner Bread and Water for Africa, through the United Methodist Church will help us distribute these lifesaving [medicine as soon as the shipment arrives].
“For the two billion people who don’t have access to even basic medicines, ensuring our planned shipments of essential, life-changing medicines and health supplies is of utmost importance.
“Please continue to include all the most vulnerable people in your prayers as you keep your families and loved ones safe and secure. We will all weather this as best we can.”
We will all get through this together.
At Shinga Development Trust’s Lerato Children’s Home, nearly two dozen orphaned and abandoned children were living in darkness this past year. The country has struggled with crippling, rolling blackouts, leaving the children and millions of Zimbabweans without electricity for roughly 20 hours a day.
For us and our longtime partner, Margaret Makambira, who had just in the past year completed construction of the children’s home – the situation was untenable.
“Zimbabwe is experiencing blackouts up to 20 hours daily cause lots of distractions to the orphans at the home,” reported Margaret in November. “Children cannot do their school assignments, and food is going bad.
“The need of solar instillation is crucial so life can be easier for the children,” she said.
She turned to us, and we turned to our supporters, who quickly and generously provided the $3,000 necessary to install solar panels. This will ensure that Margaret and the children in her care will have all the electricity they need – and at no cost for years to come!
(Pictured: Women and their children with nurses at the Mokoba Health Center)
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, some 5,600 Sierra Leoneans, including 2,200 boys and girls, received healthcare services at the newly-renovated Mokoba Health Center in the past few months alone. Last year, we called upon our supporters to help us raise the $5,500 necessary to fix the damage to the more than 20-year old building which had fallen into disrepair. There was fear that government authorities would close down the clinic, leaving the residents of the rural village of Mokoba with no healthcare services in the vicinity. But they came through, and as you can see in these photos the building is beautiful and looking as good as new.
Front view of the newly-renovated Mokoba Health Center in Sierra Leone funded by Bread and Water for Africa®
A child being tested for malaria at the Mokoba clinic.
Clinic manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba, right, addressed the nurses and members of the community at a recent re-dedication ceremony for the health center.
The residents of the village, particularly expecting women and mothers with young children, as well as the elderly, are especially grateful and relieved. Clinic manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba reported that with the rehabilitated clinic the health status of those in the village and surrounding communities has already showed remarkable improvement.
The rehabilitation of the Mokoba Health Center went on well because the community leaders coordinated the whole process including the work of youth and women to fetch water and provide bush sticks and movement of the rehabilitation materials for the contractor,” says Joseph. “Involving the Mokoba community and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in the project from the start, and facilitating their engagement enabled the rehabilitation of the health center to be carried out on time because both took responsibility for the process.
Although it practically goes without saying, Joseph noted that the “new” clinic has been received by the local community “very positively, particularly by women, community partners and the Government of Sierra Leone.” And as Joseph stated so eloquently:
A healthy rural community is a wealthy nation. Investing in women’s and children’s healthcare laid a better foundation for development and prosperity.
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.