Four weeks ago, Gbomai and GBF supporter Sonponrina Williamson ventured to Tubmanburg, Liberia for our 2nd trip to Bomi County, the field in which we adopted our first maternal/neonatal ward back in February 2009. After 14 hours of travel, our lay over in Ghana threw a tiny wrench our way as our tech equipment was stolen from Gbomai’s luggage. However, that didn’t stop Gbomai from keeping a journal of travel notes, Sonporina from taking great photos, and Paul Kangar, GBF’s Liberia correspondent, from capturing great video content to share with you all. Check Gbomai’s update from her first week in Bomi below, and Week 2 & Week 3 within the upcoming days.
Monday 11.22 – A New Bill of Health Liberia
Mr. Vaplah, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Welfare, talks about Liberia Vision 2030
On Monday, Sonponrina & I attended Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare “Policy Envisioning and Official launch of Road Map for Development of 10 year National Health & Social Welfare Policy and Plan,” at the Monrovia city hall. It was attended by Resident Doctor of the Liberian Government Hospital Dr. Peters, Liberia’s Chief Medical Director Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health Dr. Gwanagale, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, USAID, and UNICEF among other organizations. The discussion that took place was centered around Liberia moving forward in good health, highlighting plans to go forward with new initiatives like Liberia Vision 2030 and a new basic health care package of services that specify maternal, newborn, and child, and republic health.I was already excited to see how these plans will be rolled out within the upcoming years, but I was most excited to be in the same arena with women and men in Liberia who have dedicated their profession and entire lives to the betterment of Liberia. This includes meeting the famous city mayor Mary Bloh, known as the “lady who cleans the city,” whom showed us around the city hall building after the policy meeting.
I was already excited to see how these plans will be rolled out within the upcoming years, but I was most excited to be in the same arena with women and men in Liberia who have dedicated their profession and entire lives to the betterment of Liberia. This includes meeting the famous city mayor Mary Bloh, known as the “lady who cleans the city” and for securing about 5 million from the Bill Clinton Foundation for her city initiatives, whom showed us around the city hall building after the policy meeting.
Dr. Peters, Gbomai, Dr. Benice Dahn, and Sonponrina
Gbomai, Paul Kangar (GBF Liberia Correspondent), Mary Bloh, (sitting), and Sonponrina
Tuesday 11.23 – Due Diligence, Getting back in touch with the mother’s we have helped
Today we headed straight to the Liberian Government Hospital to check personally with Dr. Peters and get a update on what’s happening with the women hospital since August. If you follow us on Twitter, you may remember that Dr. Peters visited me in September when she was chosen to attend an international Health Conference at Yale University. In September, she gave me updates on some of the women I met on my first visit. So this time around, I got the chance to catch up with some of them including a pair of twins born to a 23 year old woman.
See video of the twins here!
Wednesday 11.24 – Meeting with Mr.Lee Mason
Mr. Lee Mason, Bomi County Development officer and assistant minister for planning and economic affairs. Talked about way and means to spread GBF in to other counties, development of the brand, and need to be in other counties. Mr. Mason is a new member of our board.
Thursday 11.25 – One Happy Ending—and one sad one.
I had another amazing day at the hospital – I love meeting these women and learning their stories! But I must admit, it can be a lot to take in…
I met 33 yr. old mother Maima George from in Dagweh Town who had a bouncing baby boy at almost 7 pounds! She was in labor for hours at home with the local midwives…not the trained ones by the hospital. When her water broke, the midwives in her town weren’t to sure if it was in fact her amniotic fluid, instead their kept on telling her to push and that “the baby will soon be here”. After 15 hrs, they brought her in to the Liberian Government Hospital where they needed to operate on her right away. In the end, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy she named “Bobby Tara” at 1:23pm. This is the reason why GBF supports facility deliveries…for more happy endings like Maima’s!
Take a look at Maima’s baby boy here soon!
However, with as many happy endings there are… more often the end result is a sad ones. I toured the hospital and also met a mom by the name of Massa Gailor. She does not know her age nor when she got pregnant. She never visited the hospital, and in fact gave birth at home. When she saw that the baby was abnormally small and looked “different” per her words, she took the baby to one of the local clinics in Beh’s town (her hometown). The health professionals referred her to the hospital on November 6th but today was the first time she visited the hospital to find out what could be wrong with her baby. We took some video footage where I speak with her about the situation and Ma Nettie briefs us about the likelihood of the baby surviving. the baby is one of the special cases.
See Gbomai’s chat with Massa here!
Nonetheless, I will be at the hospital again next Tuesday at 9:00am with Dr Passawe from the Bill Clinton Foundation, County Health Director Dr. Birch, Liberian Government Hospital Adminstrator Mr. Rogers, and Dr. Peters. Looking forward to this meeting!
Friday 11.26 – Flomo’s first hospital visit
Today, we took a lady by the name of Noah Flomo to nearby Redemption Hospital because she had her baby at home about three weeks ago and had not seen the doctor. She gave birth to her baby by herself on November 4th and later had a nurse in the neighborhood help her cut the unbibical cord. Upon visiting the hospital, the baby was weighed, given 2 vaccinations, and medications to be administered at home for his cold and high fever.
Flomo's Baby Boy at home
See Gbomai’s interview with Flomo and her doctor visit here!
Saturday 11.27 – Enjoying being home
Today, Sonporina and I took a personal day to visit my dad’s rubber tree farm!
Sonponrina and I walk through the fields of rubber trees with Lasana, the farm's Superintendent since my childhood, leading the way.
Gbomai and the young "tappers" that regularly tap the trees for liquid rubber.
Sunday 11.28 – Preparing for the Following Week
Sonponrina and I attended a church service at the Provident Baptist Church here in Bomi County. We also took the day to arrange our schedule for the week and confirm meetings. From my journal notes, I hope you have been able to gather an outline of what we have been able to accomplish this week! Nonetheless, the pictures and short videologs Sonporina has taken speak volumes and reaffirms why GBF is needed here in Bomi. I look around me and there are too many pockets poverty. You would think that the spirits of the inhabitants of such a place would match their surroundings. You would think that they are beaten up, wounded, and in misery all of the time–yes some are. But there are so many moments of hope and happiness…