This month, we are especially grateful for our supporters who are making it possible for thousands of Sierra Leoneans to have their own reusable cloth face masks, and dozens of orphans in Zimbabwe to have three filling meals daily despite the challenges the countries are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also in Sierra Leone, our longtime partner which operates a desperately-needed clinic in a rural and under-served region of the country continues to treat all those who arrive at its doors, regardless of their ability to pay.
COVID-19 Challenges Continue to Plague African Countries, and Not Just the Virus Itself
Although the global coronavirus outbreak has not struck Sub-Saharan African countries like Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe as hard as the United States and Europe, the impact is still being felt.
In Zimbabwe, Margaret Makambira, founder and director of the Lerato Children’s Village, struggles to feed the orphaned children in her care because of the country’s rampant inflation where prices for basic necessities including food continue to rise.
In Sierra Leone, with a population of nearly 8 million, there have only been 1,327 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a total of 55 deaths. That is no doubt due to the country’s experience in combating the deadly Ebola virus outbreak which devastated the country in 2014, along with the government’s quick action in calling for a state of emergency a week before the first case of COVID-19 was even confirmed.
As The New York Times noted, however, “This is not to say that Sierra Leone is certain to win the fight against the coronavirus,” pointing out that the government has acknowledged serious challenges, and that “the health system remains comparatively weak.”
According to the BBC, Zimbabwe has confirmed nearly 500 cases and just four deaths (but the actual number of cases is thought to be higher) as of June 20, but hunger is the primary concern for millions of Zimbabweans at the moment.
“Many people, including myself are more afraid of hunger than the virus,” a vendor whose stall was closed by the government shutdown in the country told CNN. “Hunger is more lethal than the virus we cannot see.”
At Bread and Water for Africa® we are thankful for our supporters, especially during this time. Because of them, thousands in Sierra Leone have food, and the children at the Lerato Children’s Village are able to go to bed each night with a full bellies.
Our Partner in Sierra Leone is Making Reusable Face Masks for Thousands to Help Contain Virus
Among our newest partners is the Rural Youth Development Organization Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) which has been serving impoverished communities in the Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom of the Bo District in the country, including operating a health clinic and pharmacy in the village of Mokoba where medical care is drastically needed.
This spring, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba contacted us with a request for face masks to protect staff and patients at the clinic, as well as for those in the local communities RYDO-SL serves.
However, instead of simply providing RYDO-SL with thousands of single-use face masks which would be discarded, we decided to go one better.
Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide grant funding to RYDO-SL to purchase enough fabric and sewing machines to enable local tailors to generate income for themselves by making the 3,000 face masks to be distributed to RYDO-SL medical staff and vulnerable members of the community.
Now More Than Ever, Health Care is Needed in Rural, Under-Served Sierra Leone
Kady is a 75-year-old widow living in the small village of Tenithun in rural Sierra Leone. Since the passing of her husband six years ago, she has been surviving as a subsistence farmer, depending on the food she grows for herself and her son on her small tract of land.
It was a spartan life, but a happy one. That is until a small cut on her foot became infected, and then septic. Quickly, and painfully, it began to eat away at the flesh on her foot, leaving her unable to put any weight on it at all.
With no money for medical treatment, Kady did not know where to turn for help, but she knew she could not let the infection, which could even prove fatal if left untreated, continued to spread.
Her situation changed drastically the day a friend stopped by, and seeing the condition of Kady’s foot, told her of a clinic in the town of Bunumbu about 10 miles away, operated by our longtime partner, Faith Healing Development Organization, where she could receive free medical treatment.
Accompanied by her son, Kady was transported to the clinic where she received the necessary treatment for her ailing foot. Within three weeks, it had healed completely and she was able to walk properly without pain again for the first time in months.
Kady had nothing but grateful praise for the dedicated clinic medical staff for their caring treatment and the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa who, through their generosity and compassion, made her recovery possible and prevented the likely loss of her foot, her livelihood – and possibly even her very life!
I now feel great after months of going through this terrible pain. I can now return to my farming again and take care of myself and my child.