I can still remember my own feelings of excitement, trepidation, and wonder as I flew out of the U.S. many months ago to begin a new life in Sierra Leone. This week I am thinking of a young man named Yusufu Kamara, who flew from Freetown to Dallas last week for a 6 month Biomedical Repair Training Program. I am praying that any fears and concerns he may have in settling for a time in a strange country will be put to rest by good American hospitality, by the grace of new friendships, and in the joy of learning new things. I know he’ll miss Sierra Leonean rice and sauce, but I am hoping he might find Tex-Mex rice and beans the next best thing.
Yusufu is a laboratory technician at Connaught Hospital, the main government hospital here in Freetown. He has agreed to oversee lab work at the Lutheran Health Clinic in Calaba Town, and in that way expand the range of services and care available there. Yusufu’s opportunity to receive further training in Dallas came about through collaboration between the ELCSL, the IDEA Foundation, and MediSend International based in Dallas. Medisend’s Biomedical Repair Training Program trains participants from developing countries in order to strengthen local health care systems.
Yusufu had to pass a qualifying exam from Medisend in order to be admitted to the program. I administered the three hour test to him a few weeks ago. I couldn’t answer a single question on the exam but was greatly encouraged by Yusufu’s prospects when he finished with a smile on his face in under the alloted time.
When Yusufu returns from Texas in December, he will be the only person in Sierra Leone trained in biomedical technology. The Health Clinic in Calaba town has a variety of lab equipment he will be able to use and maintain. In the jargon of the development world, this is an example of “capacity building.” It’s also a great example of the ways partnership can make good things happen, in service to communities in need.