In early July, 2017, Hope for Lives in Sierra Leone helped to celebrate International Day of the African Child. With the help of our good friends and partners, the staff of the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown, we prepared meals for over 3,000 school kids, teachers and administrators. We also made use of our new ice cream machine for a cold treat on a hot day. There was also a soccer tournament, for which we prepared a trophy for the winners. You can see more great photos of the festivities on the Flickr page.
We've been working on the Hope for Lives Computer Lab at St. Anthony's School for over a year now. We built the structure right next to the Hope for Lives Library and have been working on installation and configuration of the computers with the help of our IT guy and trainer Kemoh Tarawally.
Father Bassey of St. Anthony's Parish officially dedicated the computer lab in late September to coincide with the beginning of classes. We have to thank Jimmy Bruzon and Action4Schools for making improvements to the roof over the last two months as our lab building took a beating during the rainy season.
The Hope for Lives Computer Lab building (and the library) is on the boys side of the school, which is why most of the pics here are of the boys. Be assured however, that the girls and all of the school kids have regularly scheduled access to the computers. Our plan to make the computer lab sustainable is to allow the general public paid access as an internet cafe and to offer printing and other services. Public access will be scheduled around the school kids, who get first priority.
The new water station and well at St. Anthony's School was completed just in time for the new school year. We're so grateful to Bishop Fitzgerald School, Action4Schools and Water4Foundation for donating the funds and coordinating construction of the new well.
In addition to the new water station, Action4Schools replaced several of the dilapidated roofs that resulted in water damage to the classrooms during the rainy season. The roof that feeds rainwater into the cistern was also replaced so the school now has 2 sources of water to serve the 3,000 boys and girls who attend the school. Here's a link to the Action4schools website with additional galleries http://www.action4schools.gi/st-anthonys-school-brookfields-freetown/
So much has happened since our last news post one month ago. Our well drillers drilled a 2nd tap to increase the water yield, the two taps were connected and the water station is nearing completion. The school kids are on summer vacation through August, but will be very surprised when they return to school and see the new water station. We hope the water station will serve both St. Anthony's School and the adjacent High School.
Action4Schools surprised us by offering to replace the metal roof for one of the school buildings AND the Hope for Lives Library and Computer Lab. It was a huge commitment of funds to accomplish the roofing projects.
St. Anthony's School is the recipient of a very generous donation by the Bishop Fitzgerald Middle School (in Gibraltar) and Action4Schools. They donated the funds and coordinated to install a new well at the school, providing water for the nearly 3,000 schoolkids. Currently, the only source of water at the school is a cistern that collects rainwater from the roof, dependent on rainfall to keep up with a heavy demand for water. Action4Schools is a small volunteer charity based in Gibraltar that has been supporting schools in Sierra Leone since 2007. Action4schools mainly concentrate on refurbishing schools and providing water wells to needy schools. We would like to thank the people of Gibraltar for supporting Action4schools' work and especially thank the children and staff at Bishop Fitzgerald Middle School for their kind support, they are making a huge difference to the lives of the children at St Anthony's School and the community at large.
In July 2015, Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins made a huge step toward improving health care in Sierra Leone with the donation of 7 Beckman Coulter Hematology and Immuno-assay machines, which finally arrived in Sierra Leone in April 2016. This one effort will be the biggest thing we have accomplished to date. Currently, there are no machines of this kind in the entire country. Any comprehensive blood and urine testing must be sent out of the country for analysis at considerable expense, which very few can afford. View the video demo/introduction of these machines by Oliver Swann and Shauntaya Durant, two lab technologists at Suburban Hospital. The recent shipment also contained a number of donated cardiology machines (ECG/Stress) . We have identified a destination facility and Beckman Coulter has been very helpful in their commitment in set up and working out logistics for the sustainability for these vital machines.
It's late February and Bobby Smith returned to Sierra Leone to oversee the completion and installation of the computer lab at St. Anthony's School. As you may know, the Hope for Lives Computer Lab is conveniently located a few steps from the Hope for Lives Library at St. Anthony's School.
Our recent shipment has arrived in Sierra Leone including the 7 Hematology Analyzers and Immunoassay machines, a variety of specialized cardiology equipment, a lot of medical supplies and whatever else we could fit into the shipping container. We don't know yet the destination for all of this equipment, but with all that has been collected, we could probably open one of the best equipped hospitals in West Africa. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out.
As of this writing, Bobby has yet to return to to the U.S. to regale us with stories of his activity in Sierra Leone. He travels to Africa with a general idea of what he has to accomplish, but things often expand to include time with the St. Anthony students, feedings, health screenings, distribution of shoes, visiting the amputees and other activities. I can't wait to post the photos.
For now, we'll just encourage you to donate to Hope for Lives. Unfortunately, much of the funding for these projects and travel associated comes out of Bobby's tiny pockets. We are ever grateful to our donors of medical supplies and equipment, particularly Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins and Bobby's cardiologist friends. Your monetary donations are what pays to ship these valuable donated goods to Sierra Lone, so please help us keep up the pace of relief and opportunity.