Monday 16 November 2015

Marwan Update

After more than 10 trips to the hospital with Marwan and with still no treatment on the horizon, and the cancer getting bigger and bigger we took him to a priest locally who we had heard has sent children with similar problems abroad for treatment. We had to get a letter of referral from the hospital where he had been seen so the priest could send that and Marwan's scans to a hospital in Ghana to see if they will agree to treat him.
We have to see the priest again tomorrow to find out if he's heard back from the hospital in Ghana yet and if we get the go ahead then we'll have to move as quickly as possible to arrange passports and flights for Marwan and his Dad.
I've been very disillusioned......the staff at the hospital here just didn't care......the nurse who reluctantly changed his dressing was so rough with him and caused much more pain than was necessary. The doctor was much too important to give us any time and just kept sending us for test after test after test rather than just admit that he either wasn't able or wasn't willing to operate on the boy. (This is NOT the AHS Hospital at Waterloo that I usually go to - if Dr Koroma could have helped he would have).
I feel really sorry for the boy's Dad too - Marwan is all he has......he had a teenage son who sadly died earlier this year....and now he's having to deal with this.....I don't know how he'll cope if he loses Marwan too.
I spent some time with Marwan today and he seemed more perky than the last time I saw him - he's obviously very scared and in a lot of pain, but I had a wonderful cuddle with him and although he didn't talk to me he nodded or shook his head to answer my questions. He's a beautiful, wonderful little boy and I feel so sad for him.

I'm praying for him, please join me if you can......
I'm praying for a miracle for him
I'm praying he'll be cured
I'm praying we'll get good news from Ghana
I'm praying he'll be free of pain
I'm praying he'll get to go to school
I'm praying he'll grow up and have a family
I'm praying he won't die

Sunday 15 November 2015

Pneumonia, Cuddles and Cakes

I seem to have had a very full day today........
Yesterday I saw my friend Susan, the head mistress of the Hosetta Abdullah school for children with special needs.......I'd last seen her at the beginning of October just before I went to the UK for a few weeks, at that time she had been poorly for a while with a bad chest. When I saw her yesterday I was shocked by just how ill she was so I picked her up this morning and took her to the AHS Hospital at Waterloo today for my friend Dr Koroma to check her over. Dr diagnosed severe pneumonia and has admitted her. She didn't really want to be admitted but Dr Koroma insisted......and you don't argue with Dr Koroma!
We arranged to meet Marwan, our boy with the poorly eye, at the hospital with his father as they live nearby. I got to spend some time with Marwan without him having to be stressed by having his eye examined, or the dressing changed, or be poked or prodded. I still haven't heard him say a single word.....but I did get to enjoy a lovely cuddle when he overcame his shyness and decided to come and sit with me. He was wearing the pyjamas I bought him from the UK for him - I got them so he has something to wear if he's admitted to hospital, he looks so cute in them. Tomorrow I should  find out if it's going to be possible to send him to Ghana to get him treated.
I'm praying, praying and praying some more for healing for this lovely, lovely boy. As we left the hospital - me to go to my home and Marwan and his Dad to go to theirs - he waved me off and gave me a big smile - it was the first time I've seen him smile. I love that little boy.
Aunty (the lady who comes each day to cook for the compound) had the day off today, so my Sierra Leone family and I all sat out in the garden and chatted while they prepared the food and I made omelettes to keep us going. It was wonderful just not to have to be anywhere and to have the time to sit and enjoy each other's company.
After years of being in Sierra Leone I have finally purchased an oven! Until now I've got by with 2 ring gas burner - I'm the only one who cooks inside, Aunty and the others cook on a charcoal burner outside. I tested it out for the first time today, first with the omelettes which went down very well.......then I made some corn muffins, which look a lot better than they tasted.
I've decided that I'm going to try to reinstate a tradition my Mum had and cook cakes each Sunday when possible and share them with whoever happens to be around.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The End Of Ebola?

A few days ago Sierra Leone passed 42 days with no new confirmed cases, meaning that person to person transmission is no longer considered a threat.......for now.
I saw some celebrations on the news, but in my area celebrations were pretty muted and understated.....most people I know have taken it as a time of prayer and reflection, remembering those they lost and praying for those who survived.
The AHS Hospital at Waterloo, which was first closed and quarantined in August 2014 then later commissioned as an Ebola Holding and Treatment Centre, reopened as a general hospital this week. The doctor and staff are glad to be getting back to normal after living and working under restrictions for so long.
I went to the reopening and as well as being a day of celebration it was a day of reflection, remembrance and prayer. It was an honour to be mentioned as one of the organisations that has helped them through the Ebola crisis and the hospital pass on their thanks for the help that Transform Salone and our supporters have given them since the start of the crisis.
The doctor was so eager to get back to work that he was seeing patients as soon as the tour of the hospital at the end of the reopening programme was over!
It's a great testament to the doctor, his staff and the people that came to help that while the hospital was operating as an Ebola centre no staff were infected with the virus.
People are very aware that there are still Ebola patients being treated in neighbouring Guinea and that it's a real possibility that we could see further cases.
Wisely people are being advised to continue with precautions such as avoiding unnecessary touching and hand washing.
I think people are afraid to get too excited in case it all starts up again - they don't want to celebrate prematurely.......I think most people accept that there's a good chance there will be more cases here and there, but at least the country can start to recover now.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have updated their travel advice and are no longer advising against all but essential travel to Sierra we are ready to start welcoming volunteers to come and help us with our community work and the sponsorship scheme. If you'd like to come and help out please get in touch!!

Friday 6 November 2015

More About Marwan

Marwen, looking a bit fedup at the hospital
It's been a very frustrating week for us and for Marwan.

Lamin, who is looking after Marwan for us, has taken him to the hospital day after day after day. It took about 4 days  to receive the results of his scan (pictured below). He's been diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer, and needs to have the eye removed.....that's where we've come to a bit of a standstill. Since receiving the diagnosis Lamin has taken Marwan back to the hospital an additional 4 times in the hope of getting Marwan the treatment he needs and each time he's been told to come back the next day. Every day the eye is getting worse.
We've started looking into the possibility of getting treatment for Marwan outside of Sierra Leone. Lamin is having a meeting with the original doctor who referred him to find out if he has any contacts outside of Sierra Leone who might be able to help. We have no idea yet if this will be possible, but we have to try to do something.
I feel so useless, as if we are just waiting for his eye to get worse and worse until it's too late to do anything.
If you are in Sierra Leone and know any organisations or contacts who might be able to help please let me know.
If you are able to help financially towards Marwan's treatment and care please let me know.
If you can pray for him please do.
Marwan's Scan Results