Thursday, July 30, 2009

narrow escape from wild bees

I think we can safely say that was a narrow escape....
Alhassan got up this morning complaining of malaria but promised to buy the treatment on his way home from dropping me off at a meeting. He had gone into town by the time I got back. A couple of hours later I received a hysterical call from Alhassan's cousin. Eventually I got the story out of a slightly calmer fellow passenger and set off to pick up the pieces. I have just now got back from the hospital where Alhassan is admitted for overnight surveillance.

Apparently, the malaria overcame him when he was driving and he blacked out at the wheel. His second misfortune came when the car chose a particular telegraph pole as its final destination. This particular telegraph pole houses a large colony of wild bees which proceeded to attack the passengers. The others being healthy and fit got out and ran. Alhassan being semi-comatose with malaria could not and was almost smothered by them. He was eventually pulled out of the vehicle by a couple of soldiers [the whole thing took place outside the military barracks] who saved his life.

The nurse and I have just pulled out well over a thousand stings left by well over a thousand bees all over his face, inside his ears and eyes, his mouth, his neck, chest and shoulders. He looks as if he has done a round with Mike Tyson but the reality is he is very lucky to be alive.

At the military hospital where the onlookers first took him, it did not even occur to them to administer antihistamines but thank God for our recent discovery, Blue Shields Hospital where he is now being made slightly more comfortable. We will collect him tomorrow, all being well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jimiyke - bad news!

For those following Jimiyke's visa and health saga [For those new to Jimiyke's story please read the post on 22nd May 09, 8th July & 16th July and/or follow the link to:], we have today received very bad news. He has been refused his visa as the consular representative seems to have completely misunderstood the application.
Jimiyke is currently responding excellently to speculative anti-TB treatment [he has consistently tested negative for TB although his symptoms seemed to imply TB] and his health has massively improved.
We applied for assessment of his Hepatitis C status which requires tests not available in Sierra Leone. The visa has been refused on the grounds that he will need longer than 6 months to complete TB treatment in the UK but TB treatment may take longer than that.
He can only appeal on the grounds of this being unlawful under section 6 of the human rights Act 1998 [c 42] as being incompatible with the appellant's convention rights.
I am frustrated. He is as calm as ever [at least on the outside!].
It is possible that his Hepatatis C has gone on its own. 15% of cases apparently do. If it has not and he goes untreated, his health recovery will be of a very temporary nature and then we will have to sit back and watch him decline over a period of not very many years until he dies.
If there are any human rights or immigration lawyers in the readership that would be willing to help us either appeal or reapply, we would be very grateful.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Issa Fowai - the shortest engineer in China

Great News - Issa Fowai, who finished his WASSCE [West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations] last year, has gained sponsorship to go and study in China. He has served as one of the most energetic and committed [if shortest!] members of the 'junior staff' for this academic year.

Two years ago, ex-EducAidian Kema Gondo gained sponsorship to continue her studies in medicine in China. This year Issa will go and begin his engineering course. This is a fantastic achievement and opportunity. While it presents massive challenges - not least of which is learning Chinese! this represents a life changing chance for him.

We are very proud of him and wish him every luck.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two new additions to the EducAid family

[Photo - Fatmata, Kofi & baby Alhassan]
Fatmata [Maronka teacher] & Mani Abu [Rolal teacher] had their first son and Mrs & Mr John O'Niel [Lumley teacher] had their 2nd daughter this week. Both were safely delivered in the Lumley health centre [very very scary place!] by C-section. I could not help but compare and contrast with the excellent facilities and care I experienced at the hands of the NHS.

All the women in the Lumley Health Centre are dealt with in the same department: potential as well as new mothers; those in labour with those recovering from miscarriages and still births. 5 women in one of the tiny women's rooms with sideways walking leg space only between beds; no sign of any mosquito nets despite the obvious presence of a strong and healthy mosquito population and not a nurse or midwife in sight. I walked in off the streets straight into the tiny ward un-intercepted and unchecked, making my way down the dark corridor and through another grimy gloomy ward - there is no more guaranteed electricity in the hospital than anywhere else in Freetown. I did not see the operating theatre but the imagination runs riot bearing in mind the squalor and filth of the rest of the centre. And for all of this there are heavy fees to be paid. There is no free health care in Sierra Leone. There is an extraordinary related statistic: One in six Sierra Leonean women can expect to die in pregnancy, child birth or of post-natal complications.

However, both these mothers and both babies are in good health and progressing well. It is to be noted that, on a Sierra Leonean scale, these are the very lucky ones!

We wish them all the very best and send our congratulations to both families!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jimiyke - good but incomplete news

Headboy, Jimiyke, who nearly lost his life in March due to unidentified abdominal infections, is awaiting a visa to go to the UK for full medical assessment as it is unavailable here in Sierra Leone. [See 22nd May and 8th July posts or for more background].

Despite having two sets of results showing that he was not contagious with TB, in his original application, he has been sent by the British High Commission to get further evidence of this. It has taken a week of daily traipsing around being sent from pillar to post by lots of officious not necessarily good willed officials but he has now submitted 2 x-rays and other test results all showing testing negative for TB.

Now, we wait! Banjul, where all UK visa applications are now processed, will eventually let him know.

To those of you who pray, please do so!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

End of term

The last day of the 9th year since EducAid Lumley started. Exams are over for better or for worse. Bags are being packed as students get ready to rejoin their families across Sierra Leone then Alhassan has a bright idea ...... always one to enjoy the merits of 'white man dancing' Alhassan takes it upon himself to teach the celebrating kids how to country dance.

Alhassan gained his new found skill at the Mellor Rose Queen Barn Dance 3 weeks ago.

Was there any vaguely appropriate music around? Not at all. Did it matter? Not at all. The students joined in with greater enthusiasm than accuracy with a totally hysterical effect, swinging their partners, 'do si do', forwards and back and so on all to the accompaniment of Sierra Leonean rap.

No less mad was the next day's antics. The tin shack that houses the resident carpenters and the store is really in need of replacement so today is the day. The resident students up bright and early gathered buckets and buckets of water, measured head pans of sand and stones and then the human concrete mixing chain started to float the first floor.

This was only slightly disrupted by the sceptic tank emptying truck arriving to undertake its joyful and odorous task.

Much laughter, much noise and some well earned rest on its way for some very hard-working youngsters!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jimiyke - the latest

Head Boy, Jimiyke, locally assessed as needing urgent
treatment in the UK; huge response from donors and Addenbrookes.

Jimiyke received a notification from the consular section at the British High Commission yesterday saying that his application for a visitor's visa was still under consideration.

His fate is still therefore uncertain.

We hope for more news and good news soon. Meanwhile, it has to be said that he is making fantastic use of his time. He has been Luke's star pupil and is working as IT teaching assistant, already able to teach students the basics of the key Office programmes as well as emailing and he has now started indulging in the joys of 'Face book'!

[For those new to Jimiyke's story please read the post on 22nd May 09 or follow the link to:]