Recap: On January 3rd 2013, we arrived at the Lungi International Airport with deep optimism. A year had flown by right before our eyes faster than imaginable, since we conquered our first mission at Bo Government Hospital. And now here we are embarking on our second mission at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. PCMH is also known by many within the Sierra Leonean community as ‘Cottage Hospital’, the largest public maternity hospital in Freetown. After becoming familiar with PCMH and witnessing it’s needs first-hand, we felt very comfortable and confident in selecting it to be the recipient of the sterile birthing kits and incentive packages.
Upon arrival at PCMH, we were introduced to the Matron, Margaret Mannah and our leading supporter based on the grounds of Sierra Leone, Medical Superintendent and OBGYN, Dr. AP Koroma. Ms Mannah insisted that we take a tour of the PCMH wards, including those for admitting (triage), antenatal care, labor, and postpartum. As we were exposed to the different departments and introduced to many of the PCMH employees along the way, Ms. Mannah shared with us the effects from current Sierra Leone maternal health laws, detailed procedures of the hospital and of course specific needs and preferences that the hospital would like to request. She shared the same passion as us YWC members, particularly focusing on safer quality of care for healthier mothers and infants. She spoke with great optimism of improvements that are soon-to-come. Well, “soon-to-come” could not have been near enough because we, Yehri Wi Cry, were here now and ready to help in any way within our reach. We witnessed that they only utilized one bookshelf worth of medical supplies, that included less than 10 pairs of sissors, forceps, and very limited amounts of tools needed to deliver a baby. They also used a chlorine and soap water solution to cleanse these tools after usage, only to re-use them. Hence, PCMH was more than deserving of the 100 of medical birthing kits we were providing.
While observing one of the wards, we came across a young girl who had just given birth a few days before our arrival. Ms. Mannah explained to us, that her family had abandoned the girl because she was unmarried and bore a child at such a young age. Circumstances such as this one happen to occur frequently at PCMH. The best the hospital can do is provide temporary shelter while fellow young females within the same age in America are fortunate enough to have options that will assist them in such situations. We felt great empathy for her but it was a pleasant sight to see her face light up as we handed her more than just an incentive package but enough baby essentials that would last her for at least the next three months for her newborn bundle of joy.
Thursday January 10, 2013, we made our official delivery to PCMH. We were supported by Sierra Leone’s leading broadcasting network, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), as they televised the delivery relaying our mission as an organization and intent of our delivery to PCMH. SLBC’s presence was truly amazing because it also helped us raise awareness, to the Sierra Leonean expecting and current mothers, about the resources being provided to them free of charge. As each of us YWC members hand-placed incentives next to the bed resting mothers, including everything from infant clothing to baby blankets to infant feeding bottles, we were overwhelmed with the joy associated with being the source of joy for others. It was merely a blessing to attend the postpartum wards with not only words of encouragement to soothe these mothers’ worries but with actual tangible goods.
We also encountered several doctors and nurses attending to the care of the pregnant women. It was clear that there was adequate training but frustration caused by the lack of adequate medical supplies for administering quality care. It was at this point that we truly grasped the fine line between adequacy and inaccessibility. Completion of this second mission trip was not simply an act of charity but our commitment as an organization that we have taken on with genuine passion. Our commitment to the mothers, our commitment to the infants, our commitment to our Sierra Leonean community, and our commitment to ourselves to hold on to the faith of our contribution having an effect on the future development of our beloved Sierra Leone.