About six months ago, we reported back from our project in Sierra Leone which was moving back to normality after the Ebola crisis. The epidemic, which was the worst of its kind in history, killed thousands of Sierra Leoneans and put an enormous strain on healthcare and infrastructure in the country. Inevitably, it held back the delivery of ELoH’s projects and we made an emergency donation to keep our beneficiaries and their families safe.
By the end of November, all children in our Sierra Leone projects were back in education, their families had received business support, and they were regularly seeing our social workers and receiving counselling support. However, the adverse effects of Ebola, including the dramatic loss of life among medical personnel, had meant a delay in delivering prosthetics.
Today, we are glad to announce that a much progress has been made and that the vast majority of our 158 beneficiaries have received the medical care they need. 19 children have received life-saving surgeries and a further 10 are preparing for their surgeries right now.
Our project includes both children who have lost upper limbs and who have lost lower limbs. Among those who have lost legs and asked for mobility support, 95% are now walking thanks to prosthetics and crutches provided by ELoH, and the remaining 5% are in progress and will very soon get the help they need.
Every child receives an assessment by prosthetists and the only orthopaedic surgeon in the country who specialises in children, and they receive advice and can ask for the kind of support that best fits their needs. Depending on their amputation and local conditions, they have requested different types of physical mobility support. The vast majority of children have asked for both prosthetics and crutches, however around a third prefer only crutches and a small minority only prosthetics.
The medical team on the ground is working very hard to make sure that all children get the mobility support that best meets their needs as soon as feasibly possible, despite the limitations of the severely constraint local hospital services. We are actively monitoring their progress and are very confident that all children will be up and walking with the right support within the next few months. We look forward to providing a further update as soon as this has happened.
In terms of educational and social support, we are delighted to report that all children are doing very well. They are being seen by our social workers every week or every two weeks and they are making a lot of progress in their counselling sessions – which is central for so many amputees who suffer from the devastating effects of stigma. Almost all children are in school and those who are not are being supported by our social workers to return. All parents have received business support and are they are growing their livelihood which means they can care for their children’s education in the long term.
We would like to thank our partner organisation Street Child and all our supporters for making this possible. We simply couldn’t do it without you!