This project came to the attention of GAGA UK in early March 2019 when Claire was presenting a talk on the work of GAGA UK to a group in Hatton Warwickshire.  One of the audience, Helena, was a midwife working in the local health authority but also active in a charitable enterprise called The African Maternity Link.  Helena and Claire discussed the work that TAML carried out in Sierra Leone, sharing knowledge, techniques and experience with mid wives operating in Freetown, Bo and beyond.  Helena mentioned the excellent work being carried out by the team at Yemoh Clinic in Bo, whose commitment and success had, in 2017, been recognised by the Department of Health and they were granted funding for a new maternity facility.

Original Maternity facility Bo

The building had started but the project ran out of funding before it could be completed.  Helena had secured funding from a Warwick based organisation, One World Link to fund the completion of the roof but the remaining requirement was to linkup the well (which had a broken, hand pump rendering it unusable) and provide running water into the unit. Helena had attempted to gain support via the large, well known charities operating in water and hygiene projects in Africa but had not been able to secure funding.

well and broken hand pump

With the support of the Stratford upon Avon Rotary Club’s International Committee, GAGA UK were able to provide the funding for this final, vital part of the project.  The District Medical Officer for the province of Bo had promised new delivery and ante-natal equipment for the unit but that was dependent upon the water supply being operational and a placenta pit being installed, to ensure hygienic and safe disposal.

GAGA UK commenced the due diligence regarding the estimates for the work and the proposed design of the water tower, pumping unit and the placenta pit.  We were very fortunate to have the assistance of a student from the Department of Humanitarian Engineering at Warwick University, who used this project for her thesis across the summer of 2019. 

work started on placenta pitflooded placenta pit

Funds arrived in Sierra Leone in the summer of 2019 and the Clinic Medical Officer, Mr Deen soon put them to good use, engaging contractors and commencing the ground breaking for the Placenta Pit and building the base for the water tower. 

Very soon after work commenced, a sustained period of torrential rain hit the province, the workmen tried to bail out the pit, and continue working but in the end the weather triumphed and work had to be halted.

In September 2019 we had some better news, work had resumed and progress was being made.  The Placenta pit was bailed out, work continued on the walls and lining and the roof was installed and completed.  Work resumed on the water tower base and the pump and tank were purchased in readiness for installation.

Items purchased and water tank progress

Then another problem hit the project.  We lost touch with Mr Deen and for some weeks were very concerned about his wellbeing.  It was very unusual, as his contact with us had been regular and diligent and stopped so abruptly.  After a few weeks we heard through a connection with One World Link in Bo that Mr Deen had been attacked and robbed.  In the theft he lost all means of communication, his lap top and mobile phone as well as his motorbike.  In addition he was personally greatly affected by the attack and, understandably, not able to make contact through other means.  Therefore, it was with immense relief that we finally had word in December that Mr Deen’s health was restored and he was able to return to his role at  the Yemoh Clinic. 

After that, the good news kept coming.  Mr Deen sent photographs of the on-going project, including a video of the shower operating and photos of the final installation of pipework and tiling in the bathrooms.

bathroom and tiling  Water tank in situ

The next challenge was to ensure that the District Medical Officer made good his promise on the equipment, so that the Maternity Unit could be fully operational.  So we were delighted to receive pictures in early January of the equipment being built in situ and the final photo’s of the delivery room and the ante-natal suite.

We are delighted that this project is now completed, as we await with excitement a photo of the first Mum’s and babies to have the benefit of this wonderful new facility.  It cannot be underestimated the difference it will make to the birth experience and long-term outcomes for women giving birth in Bo, Sierra Leone to have facilities which will allow the medical staff to take care of their needs.

Delivery Room Bo, Sierra Leone   Post Natal Room, Bo Sierra Leone

GAGA UK would like to thank Stratford upon Avon Rotary, International Committee and the supporters of GAGA UK General Fund who have made this possible. 

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