Several weeks ago I posted about a trip I made to Kenema district, one of the areas of Sierra Leone hardest hit by Ebola. I wanted to paint a more human picture of how the situation is affecting health workers, patients, relatives of those infected and the community on a whole.
The post received a big response and I was soon contacted by a very generous woman in Maryland USA called Munje, a Sierra Leonean/American who felt compelled to help. Within a few days, she launched a crowd source campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fashion-does-good-fighting-ebola-in-kenema) rallied her mates and a couple of organisations she is part of (MAMAWA and Sierra Leone Watershed Project) and raised over US$2500 in two days.
A day later the cash was wired to me in Freetown and I sent my good mates Ibby Fixer and Idrissa Kargbo out to buy a carload of supplies to take to Kenema. Under the advice of hospital staff and Will Pooley who is one of the few international staff at the hospital we were told that what was needed most were basic items that would make the experience of the patients inside the ward a little more comfortable and hopefully more dignified– cups, plates, soap, a towel.
A further transfer of cash from our fundraisers in Maryland allowed us to buy some locally made stretchers. There was a real shortage in the hospital which meant moving corpses from beds to ambulances was being delayed.
As we drove back through the checkpoints on the way out of Kenema, I received a text from Will saying “It was so great delivering the packs to the ward, watching patients be able to use cups to mix their Oral Rehydration Salts, have soap to wash and towels to use, a big thank you”.
Our efforts in Kenema were just a drop in the ocean within the enormous, overwhelming and heartbreaking fight that still lays ahead. But Mike, Ibby and I left feeling like we had made a tiny difference which let’s face it, is better than nothing. And this was all thanks to a lady in Maryland who refused to sit back and watch. A big thanks to Munje and Tom and all their generous friends and donors.