My experiences could have been very different and I was lucky to find myself with the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership. They were in Sierra Leone long before Ebola and will stay long afterwards so they have unique relationships with key stakeholders in the healthcare system. I was also lucky to be there relatively early in the epidemic when holding centres were still being set up and I had the opportunity to be involved from early in the process. This brought its own challenges also many rewards.
The challenges for West Africa are far from over of course. First they need to finish off this epidemic which will be easier said than done. The current figures suggest over 20,000 infections and more than 7,000 deaths so far. In Sierra Leone alone at least 5,000 children have lost one or both parents and well over 100 front line healthcare workers have died. These numbers will continue to rise but hopefully at some point they will stop. Then will come the rebuilding phase, hopefully the two phases will actually overlap. There will be much to do. Schools, colleges and universities need to re-open, tourists need to be encouraged back and the healthcare system will need a major overhaul. I could see myself being part of that process at some point as I have been so taken by this country and its people, we shall see.
A wise woman once told me that you know you have met the right person if you can’t bare the thought of not marrying them. I see some parallels here. Of course I could bare not coming to Sierra Leone but I wouldn’t have liked it much and I would surely have been envious of those who had come. Time will tell if it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity but it’s hard to imagine history repeating itself in quite the same way so for me now there is just the final pleasure of travelling which is to return home.
Thanks to everyone who has read this blog. Feel free to leave comments and I will get back to you.