Pictured clockwise from upper left: Manley Jongopie (RHCI in-country director), Alice Karpeh (RHCI Board member and founder), the Goboi dancer from the forest, the Paremount Chief Macavoray (right), District Medical Officer Dr. Turay, and the Community Health Workers at the event
On January 13, 2018, more than 300 people gathered in Tikonko, Sierra Leone, to celebrate the completion and opening of the new Birth Waiting Home. With fundraising that spanned 1000 days, and construction that took 1 1/2 years, the long-awaited opening was attended by RHCI Board Members Alice Karpeh and Carol Nelson.
Pastor Neil Craigan, First Presbyterian Church in White Bear Lake, MN was one of the special guests and a speaker at the event. Other special guests included the Paramount Chief Macavory, the chiefs from many local villages, Lahai Ansumana from Minnesota, officials from Bo Rotary Children’s Hospital and Mercy Hospital in Bo, and many others.
The keynote address by District Medical Office Dr. Turay stressed that RHCI’s work so far has contributed to the decrease in maternal mortality across the district. The Birth Waiting Home, “one of a kind in Sierra Leone,” will further support this goal.
The Mbao-mi Mothers’ Home is a place for pregnant women from distant villages to stay at the end of their pregnancy to be have access to skilled care at the time of delivery. The name was chosen from over twenty submissions and means “a place of healing.” Community Health Worker Beatu Williams submitted the name and received a prize.
During their stay, the pregnant women will have educational classes, and access to other activities such as sewing. Food is provided for patients and staff. Security is provided around the clock by three staff members and two drivers for RHCI’s Toyota Hilux are available for transportation on a 24/7 basis.
Architect for the building was Gauri Kelkar of Minneapolis, MN, and the contractor was Sampson Tommy from Tikonko and Kenema, Sierra Leone. The building is designed to comfortably provide lodging for up to 24 women, and is staffed by local medical people, including Midwife Josephine Wilberforce from Torwama, and Juliana Sagba, a nurse from Bo. The Tikonko Community Health Workers are the support staff, doing the cooking, cleaning and laundry.