SEED

Reflections on the Clinic – Stacy Elmer

I came to NarSarah Clinic on a research grant from the University of Kansas. This was my first trip to Sierra Leone, and my first trip to Africa. My first impression of the clinic was overwhelmingly positive. Dorcas, Theresa and Peacemaker, the clinic staff, are three of the most dedicated and devoted human beings I have had the opportunity to know. From the moment I arrived, they welcomed me into Kabala, to the clinic, and into their homes and their families.

I spent three weeks administering HIV tests and other medical treatments to patients at the clinic. From the attitude and work ethic of the staff, I was immediately aware of the clinic’s goal to treat as many patients as possible, ensuring that each and every person who comes through the door is given the best opportunity to receive the best possible treatment the clinic has to offer.

The patients came from Kabala and the many surrounding villages. Some had walked hours in the morning to come and be treated at the clinic because their villages have no access to healthcare, and the government hospital is too expensive to afford. I was touched by the gratitude the patients had for the services the clinic provided.

Prior to my arrival, the clinic had no means to provide HIV testing to their patients. However, I worked closely with the staff, sharing information and skills, to begin the development of a permanent HIV testing program, and by the time I departed, the clinic staff was proficient at administering and reading HIV tests and we had established a plan to begin integrating free HIV testing as a routine procedure for patients entering the clinic.

I also joined SEED’s efforts to address the many populations surrounding the Kabala area who were suffering from the aftermath of the war. Aside from medical treatments, SEED has initiated a number of other programs to address related problems. Dorcas took me to see the children at the School for the Blind, who rarely eat more than one meal per day and who sleep nine to a room. Her organization is helping these children locate a new source of land closer to the center of the city so that they may find work and food more easily and have a safe and healthy environment in which to live. She also took me to meet the Women Against Poverty, another initiative the organization has developed to assist women in developing their own small businesses through micro-financing so the women can rely on their own skills to provide for themselves and their families. We delivered bags of rice to the war amputees and spoke with them about ways in which SEED can assist them in maintaining productive and rewarding lives despite the suffering they have gone through as a result of the war. Finally, each day as I walked to the clinic I was reminded of how necessary and urgent it is to ensure the successful completion of the building of the new health clinic. The current clinic provides many patients with medical treatment who otherwise would be either very sick or dying, but the current clinic is limited by its size and lack of electricity and running water. The skills, motivation and determination to develop a program that increases the health and welfare of the people of Kabala is readily apparent by the SEED staff, but they need the resources to complete projects so that they may better serve the many people who come to the clinic because they are suffering from the aftermath of the war.

I also joined SEED’s efforts to address the many populations surrounding the Kabala area who were suffering from the aftermath of the war. Aside from medical treatments, SEED has initiated a number of other programs to address related problems. Dorcas took me to see the children at the School for the Blind, who rarely eat more than one meal per day and who sleep nine to a room. Her organization is helping these children locate a new source of land closer to the center of the city so that they may find work and food more easily and have a safe and healthy environment in which to live. She also took me to meet the Women Against Poverty, another initiative the organization has developed to assist women in developing their own small businesses through micro-financing so the women can rely on their own skills to provide for themselves and their families. We delivered bags of rice to the war amputees and spoke with them about ways in which SEED can assist them in maintaining productive and rewarding lives despite the suffering they have gone through as a result of the war. Finally, each day as I walked to the clinic I was reminded of how necessary and urgent it is to ensure the successful completion of the building of the new health clinic. The current clinic provides many patients with medical treatment who otherwise would be either very sick or dying, but the current clinic is limited by its size and lack of electricity and running water. The skills, motivation and determination to develop a program that increases the health and welfare of the people of Kabala is readily apparent by the SEED staff, but they need the resources to complete projects so that they may better serve the many people who come to the clinic because they are suffering from the aftermath of the war.

- Stacy Elmer