Civil war in Sierra Leone ended two decades ago, but thousands of people still live with its effects, suffering daily pain and lacking access to healthcare.  Around 70,000 people were injured and 2.6 million displaced, and the country has since been afflicted with flooding, mudslides and Ebola, killing thousands.

 

Faith, who grew up in the UK and has been inspired by the work of her mother, a doctor, established the charity Melqosh (“latter rain”) in 2008 to provide food and clothing aid, mobility supply and education. Her mother began running medical missions in 2012 and Faith then launched the first IT Academy in Sierra Leone for amputees and their dependents, and two years later began to take out our Essential Health Packs to help those who needed essential medicines. Each pack acts as a mobile pharmacy, containing around 800 basic treatments including antibiotics and painkillers. 

Melqosh International provides essential medicines from IHP Essential Health Packs to treat those affected by the atrocities during the civil war.

 

Over the years, Faith has become involved in helping those who suffered rape and related atrocities during the war. “The world has forgotten about these young and middle-aged women, but they still face huge challenges,” she says. In January 2019 and again this year, she took out treatments in our Essential Health Packs (the antibiotic azithromycin, pessaries and ointment) which have helped to clear infections for several women.

Faith tells us: “Many women, for the last 18 or 20 years, have had untreated infections. The stigma of being raped means it is difficult to seek help.” She adds: “The Chair Lady of the War Rape Victims Association told me, ‘You also work with amputees, but although we may look whole from the outside, inside we are broken pieces. Those medicines did wonders for us’.”

Why are medicines from the UK so important? “The Essential Health Packs are a gold mine,” explains Faith, “because in Sierra Leone we have a lot of fake medicines imported from other places, and they are ineffective. It would have been easier to purchase our medicines while in-country, but we decided to get medicines from the UK because we knew they’re the best you can get.”

What effect are the medicines having? “I see the same people each time, and I see the changes,” says Faith, who explains that giving access to free, high-quality medicines can help amputees, especially, to get through each day. “For those who can’t afford to buy tablets, we give them Naproxen and other painkillers from the Essential Health Packs, and they tell me about the relief. When you’re in constant pain, having that is very valuable. The testimonies abound.”

Faith has worked with the US-based PATCHA Foundation and more recently with members of TOSHPA (The Organisation of Sierra Leone Healthcare Professionals Abroad), and local doctors and nurses. “The individuals we partner with normally go to Sierra Leone for Christmas, so we wanted to use the fact they are there and do our mission as the holidays were wrapping up.”

Faith has herself been affected by the civil war. Her father was a member of Sierra Leone’s parliament, targeted in an attack by war rebels. He never recovered before his death. “There is a healing that takes place not just medically but when people know that somebody cares, somebody loves, somebody is going back,” she says. “These people feel forgotten and neglected. We are not just dealing with health needs, but also mentoring them, empowering them, and giving them hope. If we’re able to stabilise health, there’s hope we can transform lives.”

 

“There is a healing that takes place not just medically but when people know that somebody cares, somebody loves...” Faith (far left) stands with some patients 

 

Not surprisingly, Faith is a strong advocate for Essential Health Packs. “Sierra Leone has had war; we’ve had Ebola; we’ve had mudslides and flooding. For people here, these donated medicines might be the only lifeline they have. They’ve been promised free healthcare, but it is yet to be implemented. If these donations are stopped, that is the end of so many unseen lives. These medicines are really essential.”

 

Find out more about Melqosh and its work on its YouTube Channel, or visit www.melqoshmissioninternational.org or www.melqosh.org.

 

 

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