During the past sixteen months in Sierra Leone, Baindu has been a second mother to me. She cooks for me, laughs with me, cries with me, hugs me, and cares for me when I am sick. Baindu has served this role for countless other interns and travelers in the past. I was devastated when I found out she was sick and then became even more devastated as I experienced the disparity that exists within the health care system in Sierra Leone.
Unfortunately, I was in Freetown—the capital of Sierra Leone—when Baindu got sick. I rushed to meet her on that first day and was brought to tears when I saw her for the first time. Honestly, I was not sure she would survive. Her hemoglobin count was 4 (the average healthy person is between 12 and 16) and she was still losing blood. For the next ten days, I helped nurse Baindu while growing an even greater appreciation for the strength of Sierra Leonean women.
Baindu was not given pain medication for over 24 hours after her surgery because none of the nurses was confident enough to administer the medicine. The doctor refused to visit her until 36 hours after surgery because he said he was too overworked that day and I had not paid him enough. Two days after surgery, they said the hospital ran out of bed nets so Baindu slept unprotected from the mosquitoes that cause malaria—the number one killer in Sierra Leone. These are just a few of the glaring differences between treatment in the United States and Sierra Leone. Although I do believe Sierra Leone is making some strides forward in health, including free care for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five, it has a long way to go.
At the government hospital in Kenema, I grew an even deeper respect for OneVillage Partners. Baindu said it over and over again just days after surgery: If it were not for OVP, she never would have survived. Even if she had survived in a physical sense, her emotional state would not have willed her to survive many more years. Because of OVP, Baindu has money to buy medicine and support a healthy diet, she has a business to focus on, and the support of many people in the United States. OneVillage Partner’s family of interns, friends, and travelers willed Baindu to live in the past ten days. Just hours after sending an appeal for letters of support, I had over ten letters to show Baindu. It is so clear to me that Baindu was right; OneVillage Partners saved her life, and will hopefully continue to be assist in the advancement of medical care in Sierra Leone.
–Kari Foley, OVP Field Officer