I am sorry that it has taken me a while to write my first post from Sierra Leone. Even now I am not sure where to start. I guess Ill start with today.
Today a little boy called Lovell died in a tent in Kailahun. He was 13. He died next to strangers and was cared for by people who looked like aliens. This is the first glance summary of Lovell’s death but I know that it is by no means the full story. He may well have been unknown to the other people being cared for in Ebola confirmed Tent 1 and he was surely cared for by people who looked strange. He was however cared for with compassion and dignity. A lot of people looked after Lovell during his time in the MSF Ebola Management Centre (EMC). National Staff who have been working without a break since this epidemic came to Kailahun in June, Expatriate Staff who come from all over the world to try to help this tragic situation. Today I was in the tent with my kind and compassionate colleague Massimo, we went in to give oral rehydration, quickly see if anyone needed symptom relief and help with any hygiene needs. We had checked Lovell and tried to give him a drink but he was unable to manage. We settled him back onto his bed and moved on, as we left, I commented that he seemed comfortable which was nice. A few minutes later, Massimo went back to see him and he had died.
This is the tragedy of the situation still unfolding in West Africa. Lovell never got to grow up and live the dreams he no doubt had. He is one of many. The difference for me personally is that I looked into his eyes and held him while we tried to give him a drink. I saw the care that was given to him and how the team suffers as they realise that a patient like Lovell isn’t going to survive. We cope, people just do wether they are MSF staff or the persons own family. We are resilient beings. We adjust our expectations in order to carry on.
I could write many more such stories, more than 300 people have died in the EMC since June BUT well over 350 have recovered. I walk around to the area for convalescing patients and I see hope. People sit chatting, playing cards and recuperating before being discharged. Sometimes we loose and it hurts but when we win we should celebrate.
It seems strange to comment on an organisation for which I work but anyone who knows me also knows that I value MSF immensely and working for them has been the proudest thing I have done in my life. This mission demonstrates very clearly that MSF is the most important medical NGO operating today. If as you read this you are getting the feeling I’m building up to something, you are right!
Everything that MSF does wether it is putting people like me in the field to care for children like Lovell or running its immense Logistics or Water and Sanitation interventions costs money – lots of it. This is teamwork at its best . Without water and sanitation – everyone dies. Without Logistics – the water and sanitation people have no equipment. Without Administration staff, the Expats never leave their home country and the National Staff don’t get paid. It costs a fortune and I make no apologies for once again asking you to donate to MSF.
Thank you for anything you can donate.
Click “Sponsor Me” on this site (the money +/- Gift Aid) goes straight to MSF
Text Donate up to £10 :
Tonight a wonderful and generous “anonymous” donor made walka2b’s running total up to £40,000. I could not ask for a better going away present! This money has gone straight to Doctors Without Borders as does ALL of the money raised here.
In just a couple of days I will be back in the field. Here is an example of how the money is used:
YOU save lives.
Full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our final day of drills and training. One hour in the full kit in Amsterdam in November (about 10C) and you can see the perspiration inside the goggles. Sierra Leone – Freetown was about 30C today. I was thinking about how uncomfortable it will be working in this.
My conclusion : It will indeed be minus fun but just imagine being critically ill, frightened, separated from your family, maybe having lost them for ever, perhaps a child who has lost the people who loved them and protected them. Im doing ok really.
If I can ask you, please share my posts and ask your friends to consider donating to Doctors Without Borders via this site. They can also Text Donate : Text “MSFA99 £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.
MSF is spending MILLIONS on this outbreak and it is only one of many interventions in 60+ countries around the world.
A remarkable organisation that works because YOU care.
This is the amazing set up in Amsterdam for training Doctors Without Borders staff pre-deployment to ebola projects.
The training is superbly managed
(they even cater for vegans!) and the facilitators are friendly and very switched on.
We are training in the protective equipment this afternoon which will be very interesting.
So, today is the day. I set off to Leeds-Bradford Airport shortly. On to Amsterdam at 1630 and then after training and briefings over the next few days I fly to Freetown in Sierra Leone before joining the Ebola project in Kailahun.
I want to thank you all very much for all of the love and support that I have been shown. I ran out of superlatives to describe my friends a long time ago, when all is said and done, you are my friends and no more needs to be said on that.
I will try to update the blog as and when I can. I will certainly be writing a new presentation upon my return and hope to have the chance to tell you the personal stories of the people suffering in this terrible outbreak and why Doctors Without Borders is so vital to this world.
Please support my project and MSF in any way you can:
Text donate: send MSFA99 £2 to 70070
Donate via this website (where it says “sponsor me”)
Come to Burlesque Without Borders on the 29th November – have a great night and donate to MSF at the same time . Click HERE for tickets and info.
Thank you all once more and see you soon.
After a number of weeks waiting I finally have a mission in West Africa. On 11th November I will be heading to Amsterdam for training and then on to Eastern Sierra Leone to a town called Kailahun. I will be joining a well established Ebola treatment centre run by MSF. The mission is for a month and I will return to Harrogate on or around the 15th December.
It is hard to say how I feel right now, I am nervous, excited, worried and relieved. I was struggling to watch this tragedy unfold and not be involved in the efforts to help.
I will be posting updates on here as and when I can but before I go there are a few things that I want to stress. First of all, Doctors Without Borders needs YOU! They need you to keep the projects going. This is a hugely expensive commitment and my mission is just one of many that the organisation is dealing with right now. Syria has not gone away though the headlines have. The malnutrition and breakdown of health care in South Sudan continues on a massive scale though again, it has disappeared from the news.
You can help.
On Saturday 29th November Burlesque Without Borders will provide a perfect opportunity to support MSF (and have a great time). This show has already raised over £8000 for MSF and I would ask that you come along, enjoy the best Burlesque night in Yorkshire and help raise £££££ for Doctors Without Borders. Click HERE for more info and tickets.
I may not get a chance to say goodbye for now to all of my friends for which I apologise. I will catch up with you in December.
The final thing I wanted to mention is the importance of FACT. There is a lot of rubbish floating around in the ether regarding Ebola. We must educate ourselves with trusted and proven fact and not allow fear to guide our judgement. Here is a good place to start: