From Ukraine to Sierra Leone: a success story
There is no school of Dentistry in Sierra Leone. So, in December 2016, Dr. Don Davis, our oral surgeon in Freetown, asked me if Africa Surgery could sponsor his apprentice, George Julian Elba, to attend dental school in Ukraine. George, at the time, had just finished secondary school (equivalent to high school in the US). I was able to find an anonymous friend willing to sponsor George. Tuition for the dental program at the Ternopil University Medical School in Ukraine was about $6,000 per year. The program looked good. In February 2017 George began his first year at Ternopil.
Five years later, George completed the program. He received his diploma on February 24, the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine. The next day George attempted to flee the country, with his diploma, a large bag filled with clothes, plus dental supplies that he would not be able to purchase in Sierra Leone.
He reached Poland on March 1, after standing in lines for many hours and walking hundreds of miles, always carrying his heavy bag. We paid for George’s trip from Warsaw. After a night in Germany, he continued on to Freetown. We picked him up at the International Airport in Lungi, early on Sunday morning, March 13. By that afternoon we had crossed the harbor on a ferry and George reunited with his relieved parents in Freetown. Now he is ready to work with Dr. Davis and for many of our patients who need oral care.