Wednesday 9th of November 2022

Freetown, Here we come...

Dear Friends,

I hope you had a restful and rejuvenating holiday season.

For most people, good execution is achieved through learning and practice. For Devoted Skies, we learn through the execution of our healthcare access projects. As a group of passionate volunteers and professionals, we  believe in the mission of equitable healthcare.  This, however, does not happen without intense planning, and it took all our efforts to make 2022 a very successful year, thanks to you, our supporters, and donors.

We departed New York on Friday December 9th, for our medical mission to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Freetown is a beautiful city with natural landscapes, architecture, and infrastructure. The hills and the natural harbor through the city made the views scenic and priceless. However, the inner city and rural towns are not as well resourced, which is why our objective to conduct the medical mission 4 hours north of Freetown in Kabala was so important . On our drive out early the next morning, we made multiple stops at community clinics and maternity centers handing our diapers, blankets, and first aid medical supplies. We also engaged in a wellness program educating children and youths on the importance of nutrition and wellness. Our program in the main hospital in Kabala began the next day, after a restful night at a nearby humanitarian hostel.

Kabala hospital is a 100-bed district hospital in rural Sierra Leone serving a population of approximately 325,000. We heard heartwarming stories and testimonials from doctors, operations managers, nurses, other staff members and volunteers about the hospital administration and care delivery. Some of the stories were about the hardships faced by patients in poor communities,  who reluctantly seek care, only to be disappointed by lack of supplies. Not having proper and adequate resources makes the job of the dutiful nurses and doctors’ even more stressful. Some of the care givers at the hospital shared how they used sanitizers and sometimes even water as ultra-sound gels on expectant mothers. Our donations reduce the pressure and make care delivery less stressful. These communities are under-resourced, and we cannot shy away from helping them. Members of the communities also volunteer at the hospitals, cleaning the wards and arranging and organizing medical supplies inventory.

Through this medical mission, I’ve come to learn a few things. You can never bring enough help to the neediest parts of the world. We had some patients wanting to share their medical issues in the open field because they finally saw a glimpse of hope with our arrival. Just acknowledgement of their existence coming from far away was enough and encouraging them to see a proper healthcare professional was welcomed. We had dialogues with community leaders and politician to help bridge the gap in care delivery.

One of the exchanges was with another nonprofit leader who came from the US to perform surgeries. We shared with him our goals while in Sierra Leone,  including donating medical supplies and contributing to the bucket program to  support communities with essential items to decrease maternal and neonatal infections for at home deliveries. This leader was concerned that our mission would be discouraging these expectant mothers from coming to a “real hospital” and incentivizing home births instead. Our team patiently listened to these concerns, knowing full well that our efforts serve the exact opposite and bring positive impact to these communities. The plight of these expectant mothers is that they disengage from modern healthcare consumption given the challenges that they expect to face:  a bus ride followed by an hour-long bike ride to wait for care, only to potentially be rescheduled when the needed supplies are unavailable is a stark reality. Not by choice, but these mothers resolve to homebirths and other methods to manage their medical conditions.

This is what Devoted Skies is all about: bridging the gap of health inequities to underserved communities. Sincere gratitude again to the Mama Pikin Foundation for their support in executing this program.

If you want to go FAST, go alone. If you want to go FAR, go together! Thank you for your partnership in this journey.

We look forward to seeing you soon…
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                                                                                                                                                         FREETOWN VIDEO
#Fun fact: Sierra Leone in Portuguese means “Mountains of Lions”. We not only observed the warmth, kindness, and bravery of the people but the beautiful natural landscapes as we drove cities and villages. The capital, Freetown, commands one of the world’s largest natural harbors.

With Gratitude,
Funso Olufade
Founder, Devoted Skies



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