Healthcare for Yiben brings healthcare to more than 1000 people in 17 neighbouring communities, with a special focus on the most vulnerable: pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five. Healthcare has become a reality through Mallam’s vision and drive, the commitment of the community to bring their government’s services to themselves and S4LA’s funding support.
The women of this area now birth in a clinic – under the care of trained midwives and supported by traditional birth attendants from their own communities. Trained government nurses deliver maternal and child services, family planning support, national immunisation and prevention programs, referral services and treatment for common ailments – particularly malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.
The project was launched on 11th September, 2015 when the Welcoming Village hosted a formal meeting with all the neighbouring villages and invited them to be part of the proposal. That generated great enthusiasm and support, and was followed by celebrations into the night.
In the following weeks and months, with Mallam’s co-ordinating efforts, a Healthcare Committee was elected with a representative from each village. Population data was collated, the location and construction of the building was planned, land was donated, the site cleared and building plans drawn up. A power saw was purchased and an experienced operator was engaged to cut the timber. Mud bricks were produced by every village, sand and gravel was dug and carried to the site and materials including cement and reinforcing steel were carried in.
In mid-February the contracted builder, Farner Kamara and his community workforce began constructing the clinic. As planned, the zincalume roof was on by the end of March, before the wet season set in, and rendering completed in July. By early September 2016, the building was finished – a secure, national-standard facility, immediately recognisable as a health clinic. It was the talk of two chiefdoms and, along with their school, the pride of the community.
UNICEF-approved toilets were added and a rainwater tank was carried in and installed. The chainsaw was again put to work to make furniture – tables, chairs, benches and a storage cupboard.
A milestone had been reached!
In Sept 2017, Members of the S4LA team visited Yiben to help celebrate the achievements and strengthen the service connections. It was a heartwarming and successful trip. The facilities were approved by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as a Maternal and Child Health Post, and outreach services began.
A long delay in deploying staff followed – affected by elections, a change in government and changes to the structure and roles within the MoHS. During this time, the S4LA-funded motor boat came into service and birthing rooms were added to the clinic. Finally, in January 2019, two permanent nurses took up their postings and full-time national services began.
Another milestone was reached!
Pioneers of healthcare for Yiben, Nurses Adama Barrie and Tenneh Manseray both speak the local language and have been happily embraced by the community.
The Yiben clinic is overseen by the Community Health Officer at the Fadugu Health Centre under the District Medical Team. It is officially included in the national staffing, medical supply chain and referral system.
The clinic staff and community have Mallam’s ongoing commitment and support. S4LA continues to support maintenance and improvements and provides a monthly budget for essentials not provided by the government.
Sustaining services and improving facilities…
During 2019, S4LA entered Yiben in a global competition for a much-needed, solar-powered vaccine fridge generously donated by Welsh cold-chain manufacturers, Dulas. This specially-designed model has made immunisation possible in many remote and off-grid settings around the world. Amid great excitement, Yiben won and Dulas shipped the wonderful prize to Freetown. From there, S4LA covered costs to installation.
In 2020, a separate nurses’ accommodation building was completed, freeing up a room in the clinic. Both buildings were tiled throughout and the water well for the clinic was also completed.
This has been another mammoth effort for Mallam and the community, requiring huge amounts of sand, cement and tiles to be brought to the site. It brings the health facilities up to current national standard, a surprising sight to see in this isolated place.
“How have you achieved this miracle?” someone recently asked Mallam. Mallam laughed, but the answer is that through collaboration, persistence and sheer hard work, Mallam makes miracles happen!