Health
 Liberia
Project #13498

Restore Healthcare to 35 Villages in Liberia

by Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia!
Vetted
Matormah
Matormah

The first thing you notice about Matormah is the light that shines through her eyes as she enters a room.  She is dressed in a long flowery outfit and affectionately greets the HWHL staff and Dr. Hena as cherished friends, rather than medical professionals, which testifies to the relationship building efforts that HWHL has achieved in the Kakata area and its surrounding villages.

Before the introductions are completed, Matormah informs all of us, “I have two songs [of thanksgiving] to sing for the HWHL staff”.  Both songs are sung in her native traditional language, Kpelle, and they speak of thanking God and being satisfied with the serving God.

“I am thanking God because I can’t believe I am the same person!  Everywhere I go, people in my neighborhood who knew me and my [epilepsy] condition keep marveling at me walking around normally.”  “Is that Matormah?”  “Is that the same girl who used to fall out the spells?” I keep hearing them saying as I am going by, she shares with her bright smile.

Matormah is has been undergoing treatment with HWHL for approximately two years.  The results have been remarkable.  Evidence of the epilepsy seizure toll has had on her can be seen from the burns and scars where she had previously fallen into a fire.

In Kakata, as is common around Africa, spirituality is linked to most aspects of life.  Many people have traditional beliefs that epilepsy patients are suffering from demon possessions or under attacks from evil spirits.  So if you speak with Matormah, she will share a similar story which she blames for the attacks, until she was relocated to the church residence, where she currently lives and serves as a cleaner and lead chorist.

Dr. Hena believes that there could be a medical explanation of Matormah’s condition having been a congenital trauma which went unnoticed until later. She shares that Matormah is one of 14 epilepsy patients currently undergoing treatment with HWHL.  The cost is very expensive as the preferred medication, Phenobarbitone (Phenobarb), is quite expensive and difficult to find in Liberia.   It costs approximately $50 U.S. Dollars for 60mg of 1000 tablets.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 10 million people across Africa suffering from epilepsy and 80% of them go without treatment due to the high costs of medication and often the lack of neurologists with most of these countries.

Currently, HWHL provides medications and services at no cost to patients like Matormah, who are unable to cover the expense of the service.  These are some of the challenges that are faced by the program as increasing demands are placed upon the staff from people needing a competent doctor that can provide quality medical care, but perhaps more importantly, what keeps the patients overflowing, is that Dr. Hena shows genuine concern and interest in the human being, not just their medical condition.

As the HWHL program prepares to shift to the Waterfield Primary Health Center (WPHC), they look forward to carrying on with faithful patients like Matormah and expanding the reach and services to more people within and from around the Kakata area. 

As for Matormah, she is thankful for the HWHL staff, which she affectionately nicknamed the “Dwazeh people”, for allowing her to have a healing song of praise and thanksgiving for the work God continues to do through HWHL.

Mosquito Net Care and Use
Mosquito Net Care and Use

Even though this is the dry season as we close out the first quarter of 2016, malaria continues to be a major concern with 665 of the 1,839 patient visits or 36% resulting in a diagnosis of malaria.  Over 75% of those affected were children. Dr. Chris and the Community Health team continued to hold frequent Malaria Health Education sessions on the proper use and care of mosquito nets, mosquito dangers from standing water, and treatment of bites in all 36 communities.  Every home visit now includes a net check.  A heavy deworming program also continued in February and March treating 15,239 people.  

Our other major effort this quarter continued to be completion of the new Medical Center facility. Building Goodness Foundation in Virginia has been supporting our work to design and construct this new space for almost 3 years.  We started with two goals beyond having a world class, purpose built facility; 1) to support the local ecomony by maximizing the use of local labor and local suppliers, and 2) to equip and train local workers so that when our facility was completed they could go to their next job.with valuable skills and good tools. The plan was for  BGF to have a full-time, on-site project manager during the whole construction period and then have mission teams of master craftsmen -engineers, carpenters, plumbers,and electricians on-site for one to three week periods to guide and train at each major phase of construction. Travel restrictions and health concerns during the ebola crisis significantly impacted acheiving these goals.  We worked with weekly conference calls, emailed sketches and photos for over a year with a bit more rework than planned for over a year.  

Finally, at the beginning of January Project Manager Michael Anello travelled to Liberia to supervise the final finishing phase.  He arrived with a long list of projects including final grading of the site; installing windows, doors, gates, and ceiling paneling; completing masonry work including terrazzo tile walls, flooring and countertops; selecting and installing cabinets; painting inside and out; building an incinerator designed to handle medical waste; installing the diesel generator; completing the well/septic/plumbing and water tower; completing and testing electric, solar and HVAC systems and installing computer data cabling; completing the roof and purchasing and installing rain barrels; and building an ebola compliant patient triage center.  

We are delighted to report that when he departed on April 8 all of the projects were complete except the triage building, which will be completed next week.  The new Waterfield Primary Care Center (named after a very gernerous donor family) stands on a hill,  painted a rainbow of colors, reflecting every bright hope for this new community resource.  With perfect timing we have received a very large donation of surplus medical furniture, equipment and supplies from Save the Children who are closing the local Ebola Treatment Facility. We are working with the Ministry of Health for certification of the facility by the end of June.  

President Ellen Sirleaf, a strong supporter of our work in Kakata, is scheduled to visit tomorrow.   As excited as we are about the future, there is still a long list of things we need to be fully operational in the new facility, the most critical of which is trained staff.  We are happy to report that the Community Health Workers we sent to Ghana for training are doing well and should be home in time to assume new jobs in the clinic. Our focus now shifts to staffing and equipping.  

Thank you for your continuing support!

Painted Halls
Painted Halls
Painted Hall
Painted Hall

Links:

Waterfield Medical Center
Waterfield Medical Center

This week our solar contractor from Washington state, Doug Danelson, installed the solar system bringing light and power into our new clinic space, bringing us one critical step closer to opening day.  Building Goodness Foundation now has a full-time project manager, Michael Anello from Virginia, on-site working side by side with our Liberian construction team.  He will remain in Liberia until the construction is completed, currently planned to be at the end of March. 

As we prepare to open the new Waterfiled Primary Care Center hiring and training staff is the highest priority  In the next few months we will be adding a physician, dentist, lab technicians, pharmacists and supporting staff, 23 new positions have been identified to be filled as funding allows.  Finding resources in Liberia for appropriate medical training to upgrade the skills of our existing staff is challenging, especially post ebola in the timeframe we need at a cost we can afford.  Recently Dr. Chris met with Rev./Dr. Seth Ablorh, a former classmate from medical school in Russia, who runs the Manna Medical Mission Clinics and Hospital in Ghana. They discussed the possibility of training key HWHL staff at his facility. Training will be provided in four key areas - pre and post natal care, vaccinations and cold chain management, out patient management, and pharmacy operations.  Manna is accredited for training in family practice residency by the West African College of Physicians. Dr. Ablorh is currently working with the Nursing School of Oral Roberts University and the Nurses and Midwives Council of the Ministry of Health in Ghana to establish a formal nursing education program.  Four experienced HWHL staff members have been selected to spend the next six months living and working in Ghana at the with Dr. Ablorh and his team. This training will be provided free of charge, although we have agreed to pay for transportation and room and board for the six month duration of the program for each student.  The funds have been raised and travel documents secured for the upcoming trip.  

Solar Panels
Solar Panels
Solar Install
Solar Install
Lining up outside the gate
Lining up outside the gate

This month the Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia clinic is as busy as it has ever been. People begin lining up outside the gate before daylight, some traveling for hours. They continue to arrive throughout the day. Lately we are seeing substantially more cases of malaria, The number of pregnancies has increased.

Since the ebola outbreak before entering the yard an examination is made of every patient, symptoms are noted, temperatures are taken to ensure that none are dangerously contageous. Before entering everyone washes their hands in a bleach solution.  Once inside the gate the wait is also long, but the Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia staff tends to every patient before the day is over. No one is turned away. The after school reading program and expanded sewing program have been moved inside the fence, so every inch of the yard is bustling with activity.  

Every day our Community Health Workers travel out of town extending healthcare to the villages. Through home health visits they provide immediate care to community members when they are hurt or sick. They lead health education sessions on first aid and wound care, malaria, respiritory and diarrheal disease, nutrition and micronutrients, immunizations, child spacing, maternal and newborn care, child and women’s health services, clean water and sanitation. They track community and individuals’ health status, and support vaccination and immunization campaigns.  They encourage pregnant women to seek health care and new mothers to seek postnatal and newborn care. They are the first responders and work as full-time advocates for the women in their communities.

Through your continuing support we have continued construction of our new Medical Center facility.  The construction crew is finishing the plastering and moving to interior finishes this month.  A container filled with the solar system componenets is already on its way to Liberia.  With your help, soon we will be operating in our new space. Thank You!

 

  

Waiting inside the gate
Waiting inside the gate
Clinic visit with Dr. Chris
Clinic visit with Dr. Chris
Baby growth monitoring
Baby growth monitoring

Links:

Living Water Well
Living Water Well

Work on the new Medical Center continues on schedule despite the heavy rainy season, the recent recurrence of ebola, and all of the normal challenges of doing a large investment project in Liberia.  We now have 44 people working on this project - 44 new jobs in Kakata!  Dr. Chris is using this rainy time for more intensive training of the Community Health Workers, as well as finalizing plans for the new programs to be implemented when the new facility opens at year-end.  

In mid-June Living Water International provided the new well.  While most of the construction crew works on the roof, a smaller group is finishing up the large septic system and small building that will house the solar and diesel generators. The solar generator, built by our solar experts in Washington state, along with the panels and other solar system components are being shipped to Atlanta for shipment to Liberia in September.  While one of our goals is to hire and purchase locally, some items of the quality we need are not available in Liberia and must be purchased and shipped from the U.S. Everything is quickly coming together!  Now that the walls are up, you can really get a feel for the size and scope of the new 20 room facility.  

Since a few new cases of ebola occurred near Kakata at the end of June, out of caution for the health of volunteers, the planned mission trip for roofing experts from the U.S. was canceled at the last minute. Even though these experts are not on-site, we have hired local carpenters and are moving forward with the roof, supported by weekly conference calls, photos, and detailed reports just as we have done with the earlier phases. It is a unique and challenging way of doing construction program management and we are truly grateful for the patience and attention to detail of the Building Goodness Foundation (BGF) management team and the Liberian Construction Contractors.  Plumbing and electrical mission teams are still planning to travel, providing it's safe.

Because they are located in Virginia, BGF has graciously taken the lead in coordinating plans for incorporating the telemedicine technologies, provided and supported by the University of Va, into the new clinic. Dr. Chris has been coordinating using the telemedicine application for well over a year now.  Beginning this month the weekly construction team calls will be conducted using the telemedicine video conferencing link and new software, connecting Kakata, Liberia with Chicago, St. Louis and Charlottesville in the U.S.  Working bugs out before the Medical Center opens. That's really going above and beyond, Thanks BGF!  

In addition to the great support we get from our donors at GlobalGiving, this month we set up an AmazonSmile account as another way you can support HWHL's vision.  AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way to support HWHL every time you shop at Amazon, no cost to anyone.  To set up HWHL as your charitable organization of choice, go to (smile.amazon.com), and chose "Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia!" before you begin shopping. AmazonSmile will remember your selection, every eligible purchase you make at will result in a 0.5% donation of the purchase price to HWHL.  

Thank you all for your continuing support of our work in Liberia!  

Finally, a Roof!
Finally, a Roof!
Length of Front Passageway
Length of Front Passageway

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia!

Location: Colorado Springs, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.healthywomenliberia.org
Project Leader:
Nanci Cole
Colorado Springs, CO United States
$32,976 raised of $35,000 goal
 
 
418 donations
$2,024 to go
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