Thursday 29 January 2009

Ramatu Update - December 2008

This is an update about Ramatu, the epileptic girl we found in laying in the street in May 2008. You can read about how I first met her here: Ramatu

I was able to see Ramatu again the day before I left Sierra Leone in December. I had visited the EASL (Epilepsy Assocation of Sierra Leone) the day before on the off chance of being able to see Max who had helped me with Ramatu back in May........Max was at a conference in town, but changed his plans to arrange to meet with me.

We headed into town, then went off in foot around the East End Police area of Freetown. It was about a 20 minute walk through a market, down alleyways, then a steep climb down between the houses until we found the room where Ramatu was.

The room was very dark (these photos were all taken with flash, sorry for the bad quality of the pics!). Ramatu was sitting on bare concrete on her own just inside the door. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her - she was even more skinny that the last time I'd seen her! Because she was too weak to stand on her own she wasn't being given food in the hope that would prevent her from soiling on the floor.

Word soon got around that a stranger was in town and all the neighbours came to see what I was there for......and someone sent for Ramatu's mother. This was the woman who was with Ramatu when I found her back in June, and although we'd presumed she was Ramatu's mother she went told us later that she was het aunt - during this visit she did admit to being her mother though. Since I went back in June one of Ramatu's step-siblings had died and her step-father blamed Ramatu for that and had been trying to prevent her mother from seeing her.

She had been being given her medication and she was fitting a lot less than the last time I saw her.......only one fit in the 4 or so hours I was with her compared to 5 or so back in June. In some ways it's good that she did have a fit while we were there because it gave Max the opportunity to show the neighbours how to take care of her when she fits and they were also able to see that Max and I weren't afraid of her or of catching anything from her.

While I was there Ramatu asked me for a biscuit so we sent one of the onlookers off for some crackers and a drink for her. She was able to eat and drink a little.

Rather than leave money for food this time around we had a bag of rice delivered to the house. We also arranged for a mattress for Ramatu - we're hoping that whoever shares the mattess with her will assist her to the toilet if she needs to go on the night. I was also able to arrange for her medication until April along with vitamins. Max is also going to keep an eye on the situation.

I was very shocked by the condition of Ramatu she is so underwight and malnourished. She is very weak and still unable to stand without assistance. She was being left to sleep on a bare concrete floor. I couldn't believe my ears when I was told that she wasn't being given food in case of her messing the floor.

I spoke to Max last week - he has been to check on Ramatu recenty and told me that her mother is taking better care of har and is also selling some things in order to be able to get food for Ramatu. Max is going to keep me updated with her progress.

Thank you so much to the people whose kind donations allowed me to be able to buy a mattress for Ramatu as well as food and continuing medication

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Monday 12 January 2009

What does 2009 hold for me?

I've had a very pleasant start to the year - my Dad come to stay with us for a week over the new year period and since he went home I've been taking it easy. It was nice to be able to spend some time with my Dad, and because Bob hired a mobility scooter for him we were able to get out and about a bit..........Bob and I walked miles, trotting along beside that scooter!! On the last night Dad was here we went for a really nice Indian meal - we went to the Bombay Bay in Southsea Marina - I'd recommend it!!

I'm really enjoying living in the city and it's nice to have so much within walking distance. There are some local shops just down the road, but even the town centre is only about a 30 minute walk away.

We have quite a bit of work still to do on the house in Herts, but we're hoping to get it on the market and hopefully sold this year. I really don't enjoy house anymore and just want to be rid of it now.

I'm planning on going back to Sierra Leone in March as part of the in-country staff team with Mission Direct helping to run the teams of short term volunteers again. I'll be there for 12 weeks or so this time. I'll be there from March until June and Brian who I was there with in November will be there for the first couple of months. I'm waiting to hear who else will be on the staff team with us. There are 4 teams scheduled for the time that I'll be there - I know a quite a few of the people who will be coming on the teams, so it'll be great to spend time with them again and to get to know the people I don't know yet.

Until I go away I'm going to be taking it easy at home, enjoying the flat and taking my time to get ready for my trip.

I really don't know what I'll do when I get back to England in June - I don't know whether I'll be planning another trip overseas or if I'll spend some time in the UK and go back to work for a while's hard to make plans as I just don't know how I'll feel when I get back from Sierra Leone. With the kids over there that I take care of it'll be hard for me to spend too much time away from Freetown......and I'm still hopeful of getting Bob there one day.

So.....I have the first half of 2009 planned, but have no idea yet where the second half will take me - but I am looking forward to finding out!

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Thursday 8 January 2009

Happy New Year (I know it's a bit late!!)

I'm sorry I've not posted for so long. I tried to add another update while I was in Sierra Leone, but the server was down at the internet cafe the day I tried and I just didn't get the chance to log on again. I ended up staying on in Freetown a bit longer than planned as our vehicle broke down while the second team were there and so I stayed on to ensure it was fixed and tie up some loose ends. It was good that I was able to have a few extra days there as it gave me the chance to track down Ramatu (that's going to be a long story so I'll post about that another time).

I came back to the UK on 6th December and the following weekend Bob and I moved to a new flat in Southsea (which I am loving!). By the time we started to settle in Christmas had arrived - we had a quiet Christmas at home, just the two of us which was lovely. My Dad come to stay for a week over new year and he went back home this past Sunday - so I'm only just now catching up on everything.

I loved being in Sierra Leone again - it was hard work and very tiring, but I loved it! I lost my voice completely at one point - but glad to say it's back to normal again now! I enjoyed both of the teams of volunteers who came out during November - they started work on the new City of Rest site at Grafton and also cleaned and painted and the current City of Rest in town. The City of Rest is for people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems and it was good to be able to spend some more time there and get to know some of the residents.

One day a boy I'd not met before turned up and showed me his belly.....he's been bitten by a dog, so we got him to hospital and paid for rabies and tetanus jabs for him. About a week later he came again and he was burning up, crying and saying his head hurt. I was concerned that it was something to do with the dog bite and thought maybe we hadn't got him treatment in time, we got him back to the hospital again who diagnosed typhoid. By the time I left he was well on the road to recovery. Poor thing was really sick there for a while.

I had a really upsetting time with Abu - he got badly beaten by his uncle with a badly that we had to take him to hospital. He had an open wound on his head and a big swelling on his leg (I thought it might be broken, but it turned out not to be). Everyone was shocked by just how badly he'd been beaten. A few days later I found out that Abu was sleeping in the street - I guess because he was too scared to go home. Abu's teacher spoke to the family and the uncle came and apologised and has promised never to beat Abu again and Abu has agreed to sleep in the house. I really don't know that to do for him for the best but for now Abu's teacher is keeping an eye on him while I'm not there, and when I go back I'm going to look into finding somewhere else for him to live.....if that's what he wants. When I left he asked me to put him in my pocket and take him with me......

I hope everyone is having a happy, healthy new year and look forward to hearing what you've all been up to.
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