Trustees’ Report for 2016-2017

This was the eighth year of operation of our charity. For Sierra Leone and its West African neighbours it has been a time of further recovery from the devastating impact of the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic of 2014. The Makeni Trust Fund has been pleased to support our partners in Sierra Leone at this time and we are grateful for the generous response of our funders.

Project Progress

University of Makeni:

Staff Development is identified by the university as a key priority in its strategic plans, and the Trust has continued to fund scholarships for this. For the strengthening of IT at the university, Aloysius Bangura has been supported to gain his Master of Philosophy in Computer Science, and Owen Collins-Cole through the second year of his IT Masters course. Sahid Sankoh was recommended for support in his IT degree course at UNIMAK. Mrs Bernadette Jallow, from UNIMAK’s Finance Department, is being supported in an MA in Finance at Kumasi University in Ghana.

The Trust has a good relation ship with Professor Ian Goodfellow who was responsible for the establishment of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, and is a regular visitor to Makeni in support of science education there. We were pleased to introduce Ian to the outstanding work of Educaid which runs nine schools in Freetown and the northern province, with students that “achieve among the highest standards in the country when it comes to public exams”. Educaid‘s country director is Miriam Mason-Sesay, a dynamic leader, passionate about children (and staff) reaching their full potential, and the recipient of many awards in the UK and Sierra Leone. Questioned about links with Laboratory Staff Miriam wrote: “Indeed, they have become good friends of ours. We are doing a big outreach programme with schools around Makeni and Port Loko.”

Following the mudslide and floods which devastated the capital of Sierra Leone in August, killing an estimated 1,300 people, the Trust sent £650 to our partner Educaid, for them to help staff and students caught up in the disaster.

In July two trustees attended a conference in London: “The UNIMAK Experience in Sustainable Education in Sierra Leone.” Organised by members of the diaspora, it was an opportunity for UNIMAK and its collaborating partners to publicise the work of the university in city planning, health system development and legal education.

Other Sponsored Students:

Ex Educaid student, Sumaila Bockerie is progressing very successfully in his medical studies, and commenced the third year of medical school in January 2017. When his computer failed, the Trust replaced it as additional practical support.

Gassim Sillah (Educaid Teaching staff) completed his studies.

Support for St Joseph’s School for the Hearing Impaired:

Two trustees from the Makeni Trust Fund and two trustees of the UK charity Friends of St Joseph’s School visited the Dublin office of the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) with Sr Mary Sweeney, the Director of St Joseph’s School for the Hearing Impaired, to urge VMM to support St Joseph’s School in two ways: by placing a long-term volunteer at the school to act as assistant to the Director, and by facilitating a short term placement of a volunteer project manager to manage the building of a new toilet/shower block which Friends of St Joseph’s School will be funding. This approach was not successful.

Holy Spirit Hospital:

At the start of the year we were pleased to have an opportunity to meet Dr Patrick Turay, Director of Holy Spirit Hospital, in London, for an update on the situation at the hospital, and an indication of the priority requirements in the future. The Trust agreed to meet his requirement for a borehole to supply water for the newly completed maternity ward, at a cost of £4,000. Installation of the pump and connection to the water tanks was completed satisfactorily during this year.

In November there was a serious fire at the hospital, when they lost everything in the building that housed the labs, physiotherapy and central drug stores. It was critical for them to ensure continuity in the supply of drugs. The Trust appealed to UK charity Inter Care for help, and we are very grateful that they responded magnificently. In January Inter Care sent a shipment of ten boxes valued over £6100. The shipment comprised medicines worth over £3,500 and other goods such as maternity deliver packs. Following the delivery of this shipment to Holy Spirit Hospital in February, two trustees visited Inter Care to discuss the possibility of placing the hospital in a regular forward delivery programme of drugs for HSH. The Trust is very willing to facilitate this arrangement by funding the actual shipping cost, which is around £1,100 per shipment. We are very pleased that HSH is now included in a regular programme, and a second consignment was sent in August with medicines valued at £4079 and supplies worth £4496.

This year we have supported the work of a Diabetes Clinic at the hospital. We provide around £750 each year through Dr Veronica Sawicki for the provision of blood sugar testing strips. The clinic is held every Wednesday at the HSH, with over 300 patients registered initially but with numbers increasing rapidly. The clinic is able to offer free blood glucose tests to all patients – the majority of these patients are desperately poor and in great need of medical support. In particular, it is also able to offer blood glucose tests to all of the young children with insulin dependent diabetes. It is critical that the blood glucose is monitored in this group so that the dose of insulin can be calculated accurately.

Dr Turay reports: “The diabetes clinic is a great success, and meets a growing need of around 40 to 50 patients each week. [Ten years ago, diabetes would have been diagnosed in 2 in 100 patients. Now it is diagnosed in 2 in 10.]

During the year we were pleased to receive £625 from the Catholic Medical Missionary Society to support the hospital’s Community Outreach Programme.

Links between Sheffield University the University of Makeni:

Makeni Trust Fund again acted as representative of the University of Makeni, in the agreement for UNIMAK to host the placement of Masters students studying at the University of Sheffield. The two students were Helena Newton, who was awarded a distinction for her research in Sierra Leone on local strategies to alleviate poverty, and Eri Nishiyama, who focused on exploring the link between environmental change and diseases like ebola. These students also helped in a practical way by delivering valuable books and medical supplies accumulated in Sheffield before their placement.

These exchanges are valued by both organisations. Jessica Jones, who enjoyed a placement at UNIMAK in 2014, helped out with research skills for UNIMAK students whilst doing her doctoral thesis during this year.

The Geography Department of the University of Sheffield has commenced an Alumni Project for to assist UNIMAK in establishing fruitful contacts with its alumni.

Internet Websites:

We continue to support the maintenance of the internet websites of Holy Spirit Hospital and the University of Makeni which attract growing interest and support from around the world. They are both appreciated by the organisations themselves and valued by their supporting partners.

Controlling Funds

This year we have continued to make good use of our Ecobank accounts in Makeni. We have a sterling account to receive money transferred from the UK, and a leone account from which funds are withdrawn. Internet access to these accounts means that we are able to monitor transactions and balances at all times. Withdrawals in Makeni are only made by the appointed signatories on instructions from the trustees, and are distributed by people we know personally. We always get receipts for all monies paid out. The accessibility and security of this money transfer facility has been useful to other organisations who wanted to transfer funds to partners in Makeni.

Fundraising

The Trust assisted in the organisation of the Hallam Diocese Charity Night, and was pleased to receive £2,950 from this event. Contributions from regular supporters remained strong, and the membership of the 49 Club continues to provide valuable funding of more than £1300 per year. We are very grateful for the generosity of our loyal supporters and thank everyone who has played a part in making this year so successful.

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