Two young interfaith leaders, Sana Rahim, a 22 year old Muslim and Clint Fluker, a 26 year old Christian have been working tirelessly since August 2011 at MedShare, in Atlanta, GA, as an interfaith pair for a Fellowship program run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. They raised over $22, 000 required to ship critical medical supplies half way across the world. This week, a 40 foot container full of life-saving equipment was donated to Moyamba Government Hospital. It arrived into Freetown port, Sierra Leone after its two month journey from Atlanta.
MedShare is a nonprofit organization (NGO) which recovers and redistributes surplus medical supplies and equipment to healthcare facilities around the world that need them the most, and reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.
Sana and Clint are one of seventeen pairs from the USA, Sierra Leone, Canada, UK and India who were selected by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to mobilize different faith communities around the common cause of helping to end global poverty and unnecessary deaths from malaria.
The container is carrying key medical supplies including: syringes, bandages, gowns, surgical gloves and masks, an Xray view box and insecticide treated bed nets, which will help in the fight against malaria. The second container that the pair have raised money to ship is scheduled to leave Atlanta later this month and will be donated to another hospital in Sierra Leone: Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni. If these medical items were purchased on the open market, they would cost between $150,000 – $350,000.
Dr. Kwame O’Neill, the Moyamba Medical Superintendent, said: ”Moyamba is the second largest district in Sierra Leone in terms of land area. It has a population of 500,000 to 600,000 where most people live below the poverty line with less than a dollar to survive the day. The residents who are mostly fishermen and farmers rely on our hospital for treatment. It is such a pity that even purchasing paracetamol is almost impossible for them. It is unfortunate also that our hospital lacks essential drugs and basic medical supplies. Your donation will help a lot in improving the quality of health care we provide. I feel very grateful because some medical supplies you have given are very hard to get. They have come at a perfect time.”
Sana Rahim said: “Despite all the differences that faith communities may have, they can all agree that the glaring health disparity in Sierra Leone is an issue we can all work together to address. Clint and I saw the faith networks in Atlanta as a powerful means of bringing people together to raise money for an urgent cause. The concrete impact of this container really drew people to this project, and we experienced immense generosity and concern from all of the communities we worked with. It’s truly a dream come true to see this container arrive to Moyamba Hospital today.”
Sana and Clint raised this money through community events involving different faith communities in the Atlanta area. For World Malaria Day (25th April) this year they commissioned, exhibited and auctioned pieces of art made from discarded medical supplies by local artists.
Not only is Sierra Leone in need of vital medical supplies, there are only 102 medics in the whole country. However, there are a huge number of churches and mosques. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s work in Sierra Leone is utilizing these networks to disseminate key preventative health messages on malaria. The program is creating a pyramid training structure – a small number of faith leaders are trained in vital health messages, particularly malaria prevetion which are then passed onto congregants who carry out household to household visits delivering simple, practical advice throughout the country.
Each aspect of the work in Sierra Leone is evaluated; every week the number of households who have been taught about malaria prevention is recorded. The number who are now are using bed-nets properly, or making timely visits to clinics where children show symptoms of malaria, is also recorded.
The results have been astounding, so far over 120, 000 homes and over 700, 000 people have been reached. Significantly over 100, 000 individuals have been visited for a second time to ensure that the key health messages are being practiced by families on a regular basis.