Progress in our Health Link

Progress in our Health Link

It has been a challenging start for the OWL health link but we have managed to find quite a few positives from the adversity of a global pandemic.

Yemoh town lab
Yemoh Town laboratory – now able to analyse blood samples and test for malaria.

Sierra Leone responded to Covid-19 in an impressively immediate and robust way that was successful in keeping the numbers of Covid related deaths to a minimum. They are continuing to be vigilant and as a result have just been taken off the ‘red list’ for travel which means many of our friends can now travel home more freely.

Through the increased use of internet platforms such as Zoom, the UK and Bo OWL Health Link committees have been able to keep in regular contact, discussing the priorities for health care improvement in Bo and the best way to go about supporting that.

One of the main areas highlighted as potentially improving the health care facilities within Peripheral Health Units (PHU’s) was a functioning laboratory, enabling faster, more accurate diagnoses of common diseases, particularly TB, leading to correct treatment and faster recovery times. Offering this service within the PHU environment also encourages people to seek help earlier leading to more effective use of medications available, also relieving the pressure on Bo government hospital.#We were lucky enough to be in receipt of a small legacy earlier this year and, with the incredible enthusiasm and drive from one of our visiting committee members – Johannes, used it to convert the old labour room at Yemoh Town Health Clinic to a basic laboratory, enabling these tests to start taking place.

The Ambulance

We have been working with the District Health Management Team (DHMT) to try and establish government support to meet the basic running needs of the lab. This is still an ongoing process and we are looking to review the running of this facility before rolling this idea out to other PHUs that have been earmarked by the DHMT for improvement.
However, we do receive regular updates from Lansana Deen, the Chief Medical Officer at the clinic, on the use of the new labour ward facilities and this little one was one of twins!
Another encouraging report was on the continuing availability of an ambulance. Getting people to the right help at the right time can mean the difference between life and death. A baby who had to be resuscitated at birth, and continued to struggle, was transferred recently.

A newborn baby – one of the twins

Looking to the future of the OWL Health Link there are several avenues that we are looking at and discussing in more detail. The OWL ethos is based on friendship and sharing of information and skills and we are keen that the health branch should retain this. We are therefore going to be initially looking at using Zoom to deliver training sessions on topics requested by the health staff of Yemoh Town Health Clinic (and other PHU staff), Bo government hospital and Bo children’s hospital. As Helena is a midwife the first sessions will be based on dealing with obstetric and neonatal emergencies but we will be looking to expand this to other disciplines, in particular paediatrics and tropical diseases. Our UK committee has been discussing this idea of rolling out training to other relevant areas with Jayne Blacklay, from the governing board of Warwick hospital, who has been very positive about this idea.

Helena is Health Coordinator for OWL. She is a midwife with years of experience training midwives in Sierra Leone.

Update on the Bo One World Link Centre

The Bo Owl Community Centre on Mattru Road has provided a focus for the activity of OWL in Bo since its completion in 2017.

Recent attention has been given to upgrading and additional maintenance and clarifying the legal ownership status. Whilst the building has been in the practical ownership of Bo OWL since its completion, finalisation of the transfer of land ownership had not been completed. After recent negotiations by Wusu Sannoh, the chair of OWL with the original land plot owners, this matter has now been resolved and legal title now rests with Bo OWL. This is an important basis for planning for the future of the Centre. Wusu and the Committee have been looking at how the building may operate and continue to provide a community role in future years. The building has now been repainted both internally and externally and wall and roofing repairs undertaken.

In order to secure the short-term reliability of power another generator has been acquired. To work in parallel with this and provide a sustainable source of power, a programme of solar power provision is under way. the first phase of this has already been undertaken, providing a power supply to meet all the first-floor requirements for lighting, fans, charging and refrigerator through additional pv panels and associated infrastructure.
Looking ahead, the view is that to maintain and develop its position, further investment in the Centre is needed. Wusu and the UK OWL committee are in discussion with an IT company who are interested in developing an IT hub at the OWL Centre. This could provide high quality internet, satellite TV, IT training facilities and other benefits from updated technology. This is a potentially exciting project and together with the forthcoming improvement of Mattru Road could raise the profile of the Centre considerably and develop it into an attractive destination for social and educational purposes in the city.

Refurbished exterior, Bo OWL Centre,

To implement this project, an additional power supply is needed, which can be provided by a second stage of solar power provision. This has now been funded and it is hoped that this can be put in place at an early opportunity. With a generator for back up, this will mean the Centre is wholly self sufficient in power supply and will be able to function effectively as a high-grade IT hub

The Centre also provides accommodation, primarily used by visitors from UK OWL, but which can also be used to generate income from other travellers to the city. The rooms have had basic upgrades, with new window mesh, door locks and some cosmetic improvement, though it is recognized that further work is required to washroom facilities to provide suitably attractive accommodation.

Good progress has therefore been made in upgrading the Centre, though further work is still required. Whilst it has not been used as widely as in previous years, this is largely down to the current Covid situation. However, with the current plans for its further development, we are hopeful that it will once more be a destination of choice for many in the city and support the aims of OWL.

The Alfred Kanneh Memorial Cup

The Alfred Kanneh Memorial Cup

The winning team receive the Kanneh Cup, Feb 2020, presented by Mrs Tiangay Kanneh

Alfred Kanneh organised a friendly football competition between all fifteen One World Link schools in Bo. It was held in February 2018 during a visit by teachers from the UK. The schools were divided into two zones and each school brought two girls and two boys – the event was a fantastic showcase of the unity of the OWL schools.

Alfred was a teacher at BDEC New Gerihun Road and the Public Relations officer for the Bo teachers committee but sadly he passed away later. The competition was held again in 2020 in his memory, now named the Kanneh Cup, with the trophy awarded to the winning team by his wife and children.

Here’s hoping it can be played again soon and can continue to represent working together.

Johannes Mallah Jnr visits Bo

Johannes Mallah Jnr visits Bo

Johannes Mallah Jnr visited Sierra Leone in April 2021 to follow up on OWL work and have a face to face meeting or discussion with our contacts,partners and friends in Bo

Johannes Mallah Jnr on flight to Sierra Leone

When I arrived in Bo, OWL Bo Chair, Dr Wusu Sannoh gave me a warm welcome. I handed letters, parcels and extended OWL UK greetings to OWL Bo members and friends.
OWL BO Centre
went to the OWL Bo centre the following day to see the status of the centre and find out about the challenges and way forward.
Whilst in Bo, I helped out to ensure the OWL centre electrical and interior painting work is completed before returning back to the UK.
I made contact with a solar technician in Freetown to fix power at the OWL Bo centre and there is currently a solar power light at the top floor and the ground floor power work is expected to commence soon and be completed in October or early November 2021. This will cut down on the running cost of the centre as it is expensive to run the centre on a generator due to irregular electricity power supply in Bo city.
There is road project work going on along the Bo Mattru road where the centre is located and when this project is completed, it will add more value to OWL Bo centre.

Yemoh town lab
Yemoh town lab


Yemoh Town Clinic Lab
I visited Yemoh town clinic with OWL Bo chair, Dr Wusu Sannoh and we met with Mr Deen, nurses and other staff.
I helped out together with other OWL Bo members to ensure the lab equipment and kits are purchased and to ensure the work commences before returning back to the UK.
The lab is currently running and OWL UK will continue monitoring its operation and provide support in other areas at the clinic in the future.
Bo Government Hospital:
had a meeting with Dr Augustine Eric Fombah , the medical superintendent at Bo government hospital inorder to find out about their current constraint and for him to list areas which they require help or support.
OWL UK is in touch with Warwick hospital in the UK to establish a link with Bo government Hospital and the discussion is ongoing but slow due to COVID.

A Newborn baby


Bo Children’s Hospital
I also visited Bo children’s hospital and I met with some of the nurses and staff on duty that day. OWL UK is in touch with the hospital partners/trustees in Australia to collaborate and work together in supporting the health link in Bo.
Covid Situation In Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has been removed from UK red list countries and the government is still encouraging adults to take their covid vaccines. The COVID cases are very low and there is ease in restriction around the country but citizens are also encouraged to put on face masks in public buildings or offices.


October 2021 Newsletter contents page

Bo Schools return on 1st July

Bo schools return on 1st July

 Schools in both Sierra Leone and the UK have been closed because of the virus but now those in Bo are reopening …
 
Over the past three months teachers across Bo and Warwick district have remained in touch through Whatsapp and, unlike the West African Ebola virus in 2015, this time we shared a crisis together- the Covid 19 Pandemic. Only about 20% pupils in Bo were accessing any education, mostly through the radio, or for those who could afford – private tutoring. 
 
Today, July 1st, Bo schools have opened again for Class Six pupils who will sit their NPSE exams in August which they need to pass to be allowed to move on to Secondary Education. Teachers and pupils alike came to school with their face masks.
 

Our schools link enables us to connect with people from a different culture to learn about life from friends. This helps us all to become compassionate global citizens.

Our One World Link teachers both in Warwick and Bo were able to celebrate the Day of the African Child on 16th June with a Zoom meeting connecting the communities
Sierra Leone, with a population of 8 million, has had 1,462 cases with 974 recovered. They suffered 60 deaths, compared to 4,000 from Ebola disease. Life has been made very difficult for the majority of people with food prices soaring due to closed borders.

New Committee in Bo

New Committee in Bo

Following the tragic recent deaths of Maada Fobay and Alpha Bah,  both active and key members of the OWL committee in Bo, the committee met on 14th March 2020 to elect a new executive. The new Chairman is Dr Wusu Sannoh, ex. Mayor of Bo, and Chairman of the Bo Children’s Hospital Board and a much respected elder in the Bo community.

They are a committed and active team and we can look forward with confidence to the future of One World Link. At the first executive meeting the members had to keep themselves 2m apart in order to comply with public health instructions to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

The full executive is as follows:

Chairman – Doctor Wusu Sannoh
Vice Chair – Janet Tucker
Secretary General – Francis Jusu
Assistant Secretary General – Jennifer Abdulai
Social Secretary – Kula M. Fangawa
Assistant Secretary – Nemahun C. Vandy
Financial Secretary – Catherine K. Kamara
PRO – Donald Mustapha.

Planning Bo’s future growth: the work continues

Planning Bo’s future growth: the work continues

Bo planning workshop, 2020
Preparing for the OWL/Prince’s
Foundation Planning Workshop

One of the areas where OWL has been giving longstanding support is to help Bo City and District Councils plan the future growth and development of the city.  In this we have partnered with the Prince’s Foundation and have worked together to deliver some training and the development of a “toolkit” to help cities such as Bo plan for their growth. 

Philip Clarke from OWL and the Prince’s Foundation were – separately – in Bo in January to deliver some training workshops.  They were intending to return together in  April to deliver a further workshop however the Covid-19 pandemic made that visit impossible.  Undaunted, and with the help of some remote support, Bo City Council staff have been undertaking the next phase of the work themselves.  One of the outcomes of the workshop in January was the identifying of an area (Government Reservation in north west Bo) which is likely to see significant growth.  An area was identified as a natural hub for this growing community, and it was agreed that – with the permission of the landowners – some land would be marked out so it could be protected for key infrastructure (schools, clinics, roads).  These images show this work in progress. 

UK Teachers visit Bo, Feb 2020

A letter to the Bo Teachers’ Committee from the visiting teachers.

22nd  Feb 2020

Dear John Sandi and Bo OWL Teachers Group,

UK teachers visit Bo. Feb 2020

We wish to write primarily to thank you and congratulate you on organising a very successful, enjoyable and productive visit (9th– 16th Feb). As we sort through and reflect on our photos, videos, gifts and memories we realise we have so much to be grateful for, which took place in a concentrated week but whose effects will last much, much longer.

We are so impressed with the many activities and experiences you enabled to take place. 

  • You managed the logistics of getting two pupils and two teachers from every school to the Field Trip at BCC Waste Management centre and the Growth Centre. Most schools had chosen pupils who remained engaged and were able to express what they had learnt verbally and cascade this information to their schools the next day. This was effective and the learning should have an impact on the attitudes of staff, pupils and parents. We hope the key messages will be followed up by schools in future assemblies and lessons. We know many teachers are passionate about enabling this.
  • Tim and Liz visited all 15 schools and saw many positive developments; many more text books being used in classes (sometimes shared by pupils 1:3), new buildings, in some schools on-going repairs, the increased use of positive behaviour management strategies such as hand clapping or chanting. We also observed your considerable on-going challenges of over-crowding, lack of teachers, teachers still awaiting pin-codes after 5+ years and many others. We admire you so much for your perseverance and will discuss ways in which OWL might influence change.
St Francis School's resource bag
St Francis opening their resource bag at the workshop, with gifts from St Anthony’s
  • Most schools sent three teachers to the workshop which covered Global Learning, our Talking Rubbish Project, Waste Management in Bo, Climate Change and literacy skills developed from ‘One Plastic Bag’ story. The engagement, effort and attitude of participants was fantastic. Some of the interactive tasks needed further explanation eg. The Diamond 9 discussion activity and the story-mapping, but you were not afraid to ask for further help and the results increased understanding of the skills and issues taught. We do now hope that what you have acquired from the workshop will be trialled in your classrooms and we eagerly await feedback and photographic evidence. Eg. A teacher at St Charles Lwanga used the Inside/Outside characterisation activity with the life of Mary of Nazareth. We urge you to go ahead developing one another’s digital capacity using mobile phones (mini-computers!) to access the internet for further Global Learning and increased global communication.
  • We were interviewed by SLBC for a radio programme the following evening to spread the positive work of OWL further.
  • You organised visits to many other places which have increased our understanding of life in Bo; the Waste site at Mile 5, the Teaching Service Commission, Paul School for the Blind, Sunday morning church at St Francis and St Teresa and a journey to Kenema, Segbwema and finally Yandohun village where we were able to pass on condolences to the family and friends of our dear late Chairman Maada. Here we also admired the recently renovated ‘barrie’ and re-built school and gave a case of resources to the school.
  • We were treated to a number of social events which have deepened our friendships and enabled us to know more about each other. A great evening out dancing at Sidami’s, followed by the boys being taken to Dreams to witness yet another aspect of Bo life. The Social Secretaries excelled themselves again, catering for both the welcome evening and the farewell party, as well as an evening for the June 2019 team to reunite over food, drinks, music and laughter. The gifts you gave us will be treasured along with our memories of this amazing visit.
  • The hospitality, friendship and care shown by the staff of the OWL Centre was, as usual, superb and we felt very welcome and comfortable.

All the above would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Teachers Committee and members (new and old) under the leadership of your able Coordinator, John Sandi. You have developed to be a considerable strength within OWL and now we hope many of you will be able to support the work of the parent body at a time of great sadness and loss.

With very best wishes and sincere gratitude, Liz, Tim, Cathryn and Harry (OWL Teachers – Warwick District, UK)

Health Link Visit to Bo

Chief, Imam and health workers at Yemoh Town CHC
Chief, Imam, health workers and visitors open the new facilities at Yemoh Town CHC

Helena White and Richard Hall visited Sierra Leone in January 2020 to make contacts and discuss further development of a health link. They visited St Paul’s School for the Blind, Bo Children’s Hospital and Yemoh Town Community Health Centre to discuss future plans and to look at projects completed. At the community health centre they attended the formal ‘opening’ of their new facilities.

They also visited some of the remote rural areas with staff from Bo District Council. The size of the district and difficulties for travel and accessing services became very apparent.

Alpha Bah took them to his own community on the outskirts of Bo, Ngeybayama. There they were met with a full reception from the whole community, with singing, dancing and speeches. Sadly this was the last time they saw Alpha; he had been ill for some time and died soon after the visit

A the end of their visit there was a meeting of the Bo One World Link Health Link committee at the OWL Centre. This was a significant step in the development of the new link.

New delivery bed at Yemoh Town CHC
Health Centre staff and Helena with the new maternity bed at Yemoh Town CHC

Finally, back in Freetown, they had very encouraging meetings at the Ministry of Health & Sanitation and British High Commission.

Read the detailed report.

Tribute to Alfred Maada Fobay

Tribute to Alfred Maada Fobay

Alfred Maada Fobay died in his sleep on Wednesday, 18th December, aged only 52, in Kono. The shock of Maada’s death hit his family and community in Bo with a huge impact of sorrow and loss. But it did not stop there, because the energy Maada put into the development of One World Link , made that sorrow and loss all the more poignantly felt by his many friends in Warwick and Leamington in the UK, who knew him and loved and admired him so much.

Johannes Mallah senior, one of the first OWL chairmen, worked with Maada at BKPS after the war, and recognised his potential in those far off days. Johannes guided him toward One World Link, and we all shared his admiration for this strong and visionary young man. He eventually became Chairman of One World Link and in that role won the respect and appreciation of us all.

Maada was always striving to absorb more information and ideas about development for his community, his country, about global relations and the environment. His vision and activities inspired us all. In the UK we relied on him to guide OWL activities, and the UK approach to development in Sierra Leone. He was quick to contradict us if he thought our ideas inappropriate, and he was also quick to take on new ideas.

The success of some of the projects with which One World Link has become involved, would not have happened without the energy and enthusiasm of Maada, and his guiding hand. Friends in One World Link were so proud of Maada’s involvement with the Waste Management project in Bo, which started from such small beginnings and our joint work. It led to him becoming the Project Leader with a consultancy, taking the project from Bo to three other towns in Sierra Leone and receiving recognition for his achievements outside the country.

We find it hard to believe he is no longer with us. we extend our deepest condolences to all in Bo, and especially to his family.

May God take care of this wonderful man and may his memory inspire us all to work harder for peace and harmony in our world to continue his brilliant work.

See also the press statement issued by UK OWL