Six years ago, three young women were among the first few Rotifunk girls in thirty years to graduate from high school since before Sierra Leone’s devastating rebel war. With the support of Sherbro Foundation scholarships, they were able to finish high school .
But their celebration was cut short with no options to continue their education and enter into a professional career.
Today, they’re poised to complete their third and final year of a Community Health Nursing program, again with Sherbro Foundation scholarships.
Pending their government certification exam, they’ll be qualified to proudly return to serve Bumpeh Chiefdom in health care, one of the country’s most critical needs.
They need your help to get them through their final stretch.
Fatmata Sesay and Safiatu Bendu, left, before class.
Covid closed all Sierra Leone educational institutions for five months or more in 2020. Higher education schools and universities are now re-opening on varied schedules.
The Covid year has been confusing for Sierra Leone schools, not unlike in the US. This nursing school pushed through 2020, completing year-two of their program and has started the next academic year in advance of other colleges.
We’re now behind the ball in fundraising for these nurses for their final year. We didn’t understand their schedule.
If you’re interested in helping Fatmata, Safiatu and Umu complete their nursing program, they need your help now.
You can sponsor a nurse in full or for any part of her scholarship. A complete nurse’s scholarship package for her final year is $1400, including the national certification exam fee.
Fatmata, Safiatu and Umu have worked hard for six years to reach this point. They didn’t meet entrance requirements for a 4-year college degree when graduating high school in 2016, and couldn’t afford college anyway. Instead, they volunteered at Rotifunk’s mission-run hospital, getting a tiny stipend. The hospital liked their work and encouraged them to pursue community health nursing.
Sherbro Foundation agreed with our partner CCET-SL on the value of training local women in nursing who could return to serve their community.
But Rotifunk senior high schools, like most in Sierra Leone, lack qualified science teachers. Students wanting to pursue STEM careers like nursing were left with another barrier to overcome – gaps in their science knowledge.
With Sherbro Foundation scholarships, our student trio enrolled in 2018 in a nursing program tailored for young women like them. They got six initial months of remedial science and math courses before stepping into the full nursing curriculum. For part of each year student nurses, like Safiatu, above left, gain practical experience in a Freetown hospital they’re assigned to.
Community Health Nurses are critical in a country with so few trained and licensed doctors.
Bumpeh Chiefdom has only one doctor for its 40,000 people, staffed at Rotifunk’s mission-run hospital. The adjoining chiefdoms have none, so this doctor effectively serves 100,000 residents.
Pregnant women and newborns are the most at-risk health-wise in Sierra Leone. A nurse is usually the first and often the only health care professional available for a pregnant woman and her baby in rural areas.
Nurses provide prenatal care for the woman and serve as midwives. They’ll be the one to identify if a woman can’t deliver on her own and help her seek urgent care.
With a nurse’s postnatal care and early immunizations, babies can thrive.
Left, nurses measure height, weight and upper arm circumference compared to a child’s age group. This identifies stunting caused by malnutrition. Nutritional supplements can be given.
Nurses provide early diagnosis and treatment of malaria, critical in saving the lives of mothers and babies.
One in five – or 20% – of Under-Five Sierra Leone children have died before their 5th birthday. Malaria is the biggest cause.
Malaria and typhoid are unfortunately part of daily life in Sierra Leone. Prompt testing and treatment can mean the difference between a minor set-back and life-threatening illness.
Nurses living in rural communities helped reduce heartbreaking fatalities in small children from 20% to 12% in recent years with early testing and treatment.
Nursing student Fatmata, left, said she now proudly tested her ill widowed mother for malaria and typhoid and administered the right treatment. “Thanks to Sherbro Foundation and CCET for transforming me,” she said.
These students are so close to achieving their dream of becoming nurses and returning to Bumpeh Chiefdom to serve their families and neighbors. A dream six years in the making.
You can help them reach the finish line for their nursing certificate with your gift. $150 will pay the final year’s tuition for one student. $300 pays for her invaluable practical experience in Freetown hospital rotations.
Each scholarship is $1400 in total, including small personal allowances of $6 a week for transportation and a $35 monthly food allowance. Send your gift here.
These young nurses deeply thank you for transforming their lives. They’ve gone from unskilled and unemployed to practicing professionals. They, in turn, will return home and be part of transforming Bumpeh Chiefdom into a healthy and thriving community.
— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director