Sadly, Team Sierra Leone was split in half for most of the day today. The “Trio in Bo,” as they were dubbed in the previous, lengthy blog post, visited Mercy Hospital and the Bo District Council Chairman. The “Freetown Four” met with three NGOs: Save the Children; BRAC; and Concern Worldwide.
Bo is the second largest city in Sierra Leone and is between Kenema and Freetown. Michelle, Mike, and Nancy started the day with a surprise breakfast at their hotel with the CRS Country Director for Sierra Leone! Then they headed out to Mercy Hospital for a meeting with several staff members and a tour of the healthcare facility along with the child rescue center. At Mercy, the Trio chatted with several people about the integration of TBAs into the hospital. Mercy is a privately funded hospital with little to no ties with the Sierra Leone government, so this was an amazing opportunity to understand the challenges and successes of integration from a different perspective. The hospital was a testament to the service that can come with a little money and the right personnel doing good work.
The Trio visited with the Bo District Chairman later in the day and talked numbers — a lot of numbers! The group examined the tax system’s history and present condition including where revenue is spent and how extra funding is obtained. Overall, the team was able to collect a great deal of information about the progress of the tax collection system in Bo and how that might be implemented in other districts around Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, back in Freetown, Lwando, Kelly, Phil, and Susan had a busy day learning about how other major NGOs in Sierra Leone are working with the healthcare issues the entire country is facing. Each NGO had something unique to offer. Save the Children gave us some information about the healthcare in Freetown (a very populous, urban area) that made us think quite a bit about the research from our field work in rural areas. BRAC gave us a good look at their microfinancing programs in the country as well as some upcoming initiatives. Finally, in our second meeting with Concern Worldwide, we learned about their current and future plans for integrating TBAs into the formal healthcare system.
At the end of the day, we were all able to join up and go out to dinner on the beach at a great restaurant called “Roy After 12 Bar.” The food was delicious, and they deliver! It was mostly just great for us to all be together again. Even though we were only apart for a little over 24 hours, we actually missed each other quite a bit!
Thanks for reading! ‘Til tomorrow!