Thursday, February 24, 2011

My last post was about the level of healthcare and service we have in American hospitals.  Today I want to share with you what a children's hospital is like in Sierra Leone.  The Raining Season has built a relationship with the Ola During Children's Hospital in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.

The team I traveled with last May was able to stop at the hospital and minister to the families there by feeding them, praying with them and holding their babies so the moms could get a much-needed break. It was a very emotional day that I'll never forget.  Of all the sights and experiences I had in Sierra Leone, the hospital is the place that touched my heart the very most.  I suppose because I have been in the hospital with my own son, I saw each of these kids and this place through the eyes of a mom.

To compare "apples to apples" so to speak, we'd need to compare it to one of the biggest children's hospitals in America.   The moms who make it to this hospital have come to the best place Sierra Leone has to offer in children's health care.  In fact, it is the only hospital dedicated to pediatrics in the country.   The staff of doctors is only four. Available medicines and treatment plans are very limited.  Even electricity is not reliable.

 This is what mom see as they walk up to the building.

Imagine carrying your sick baby on your back for hours, maybe days and walking up to this.  You would probably find a long line of women with their babies waiting to be evaluated.  You might be able to stay or you might not, depending on how many people were there and how much room the hospital had.  Healthcare for children under age five is now free, but the hospital is still lacking adequate staff and supplies.

If you were there because your baby is suffering from severe malnutrition and starvation, you would be taken into the ward shown in this short video.  There would be a bed for you and your child, but no sheets.  If you want sheets, you'll need to supply your own.  There will be a special formula for your baby, but no food available to you.  It would be up to you and the other mothers to arrange for the moms to have something to eat.  

If you have a child sick with malaria, TB, pneumonia or another serious condition you would be taken to the ICU.  The ICU looks very similar to the Nutrition Ward, except the beds have maybe a foot or two between them.   What's different about the ICU is that the hospital doesn't even provide food for the patients.  The pictures that follow were taken by TRS team members over the past year.

Please read the next post to find out what we are planning to do to help the families with children in this hospital.  Doug and I are excited to be traveling to Sierra Leone with another couple at the end of March, and we'd love to invite you to be part of our journey!

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