After two years of study, Aminata Koroma, age 27, received her Certificate of Merit in Tailoring and Dressmaking from our own Skill Training in Tailoring Program. Last October Aminata accepted a one-month job from a local NGO, the Welfare Society for the Disabled (WESOFOD), as a paid trainer for ten disabled youths learning to produce hand bags and belt bags. The youngsters live at the WESOFOD Home for the Disabled. Most of them are from the last generation affected by polio before it was eradicated in Sierra Leone
We hope that these skills will allow these trainees to earn some money by making attractive bags, a popular product in Sierra Leone. Africa Surgery also provided WESOFOD with a hand-powered sewing machine and 12 wheelchairs, part of the donation of 70 wheelchairs from our sister organization Africa Surgery Netherlands.
There are no large retail chains in Sierra Leone. Everyone must choose between buying used clothing donated by foreign charities and sold in the local markets, or having their clothes made by a tailor. Persons with disabilities can make a living as tailors, as long as they can see and use their hands. Our Skill Training in Tailoring Program is one of three subjects, along with Computer Technology and Welding, that we offer for free to disabled or impoverished youths, as well as to others who can afford to pay tuition. All of this happens in a room built next to a used container, at the Africa Surgery base in Freetown.
We currently have over 30 youths being trained in Tailoring, including one with a spinal injury, one hearing impaired, and two victims of albinism. We will soon add one or more epilepsy patients.
Abibu Kamara, age three, suffered from a tuberculosis infection that damaged his upper spine about one year ago. Africa Surgery placed Abibu on anti-tuberculosis medications that will eradicate the disease from his system, relieve his pain, and cure his cough and fever.
Abu B. Tarawallie, founder of our new partner organization Orthopic Rehabilitation and Medical Services (ORMS) made a brace for Abibu to prevent his spine from collapsing any further while his damaged vertebrae heal.
Thanks to hard lessons learned five years ago during the Ebola hemorrhagic fever epidemic in West Africa, Sierra Leone was already well experienced in the practice of quarantining, contact tracing, and lock downs. But the measures taken to stem this more recent Covid-19 crisis have had a devastating effect on the life of the average Sierra Leonean who cannot store up food supplies for more than one or two days. Most Sierra Leoneans do not have regular jobs as we understand them, but must work on a farm or sell in a market, and in the cases of a disabled parent, must beg today in order to feed his or her family tonight.
Mosques and churches have already been opened and schools will likely resume classes in September. Africa Surgery will be hard pressed to send the students it has already been supporting through its student sponsorship program to school. In many, if not most, cases we will now have to include some extra feeding assistance because as one student once told me, “an empty bag cannot stand.”
We are well aware that Covid-19 has been and is still dealing havoc on the economy of the United States and of much of the rest of the world. But if those of you who have so generously been supporting one or more students can afford to continue to help, please do so with your gift of $200 per student per year. And if you can afford to add an additional gift of $20, $50 or even $100 dollars per student, your gift will go very far in helping your student or students to concentrate and to learn.
Isatu Conteh, age 4, was born with two deformed lower legs and has never walked. She is also positive for pulmonary tuberculosis which has been bending her spine. Africa Surgery had Isatu started on anti-TB medications, and our orthotics team made a brace for her back.
In October, 2019, an orthopedic team visiting Sierra Leone from Italy performed surgery to start to correct Isatu’s more-deformed right leg. A metal rod was left in to hold the leg somewhat straight as the bones healed.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Italian team could not revisit Sierra Leone to continue their work. By August, 2020, the metal rod had dislodged and was pushing out through Isatu’s skin causing severe pain and the risk of infection.
Fortunately, Africa Surgery was able to take Isatu to a hospital in Sierra Leone where an orthopedic surgeon from Denmark was able to remove the rod from her leg and prevent her flesh and bone from becoming infected.
We are a unique organization in that we use 100% of of the funds donated here for the medical and surgical care of Sierra Leonean children and adult patients. No part of these funds go for administrative costs.
In Sierra Leone, simple surgeries cost slightly over $100. No donation is too small. Every dollar counts.
Africa Surgery, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit. Your donations are tax-deductible in the United States.