We were woken by the jarring sound of our alarms this morning, marking the start of another busy day in Sierra Leone. After a nourishing breakfast in the hotel, we loaded into the Land Cruiser and began our precarious journey to the first clinic. SHUMP! BUMP! BANG! Each jostle of the van took us further down the pothole ridden road towards adventure. Along the drive, we watched as buildings become sparse, indicating we had entered more rural regions. Children walking along the road waved and yelled as we passed, adding some smiles to our ride.
Upon arriving at the first clinic of the day, we were cramped and sore from the tight squeeze in the back of the van, but were nonetheless excited to talk to the CHO (community health officer) in charge. A man of medicine for over a quarter century, he had dedicated his life to serving the people of his community, and it showed. His level of knowledge and experienced was unparalleled, even rivaling some doctors we’ve seen in the US. As a result of his years of training he was able to provide us with exceptional insights, resulting in one of the best interviews to date! He was truly a beacon of hope for the future of maternal health.
Then, we continued on to the next clinic. At this final stop we got to talk to another CHO, a maternal and child health assistant, and, best of all, a midwife. There were mothers in beautiful, vibrant dresses, cradling their children, rubbing their heads, and calming them down before heading in for treatment. The clinic staff, especially the midwife, provided us with moving, personal stories of struggle, loss, and victories against the seemingly unrelenting forces at work against the mothers. Hearing these experiences again provided us with that glimmer of hope we need to show.
If only everyone were like those we met today. From generation to generation, from the older CHO at the first clinic, to the recently graduated midwife at the second, these encounters showed how this dedication to stopping maternal mortality transcends generations.