By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Healey International Relief Foundation (HealeyIRF) has through the American School and Hospital Abroad (ASHA) awarded the United States Agency International Development (USAID) a $242,320 grant program to improve health outcomes in Sierra Leone.
Speaking during a press conference held and organized at the Caritas Freetown Executive Office, St Edwards’s compound, Kingtom on November 17, 2022, Ishmeal Alfred Charles, in-country Manager HealeyIRF Sierra Leone said the two-year project called ‘Innovate Your Future Project’ is to support HealeyIRF work in Sierra Leone by focusing on at-risk youth, and improving health outcomes in the country.
Explaining to newsmen about the good work HaleyIRF has been doing and the recent support the Foundation got from the ASHA program under USAID, Charles said from 2001 to date HealeyIRF has been working assiduously in partnership with Caritas Freetown and other partners in providing programs around health care, education, child protection and disaster relief among others.
Reverend Father Peter Conteh, Chairman, Advisory Board, Sierra Leone HealeyIRF said Healey Foundation in collaboration with Caritas Freetown has been supporting faith-based clinics and complementing government projects like the renovation of Connaught hospital and supporting the 34-Military Hospital with medical equipment among others.
Charles said the ASHA program works to strengthen local capacity and to increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries by funding projects at schools, libraries, and hospitals that highlight U.S. values.
Reading from a press release issued during the conference, Charles said HealeyIRF will partner with Caritas Freetown to implement the Innovate Your Future Project. He said because Sierra Leone has a very young population with nearly 25% between the ages of 10-19, the project will focus on reaching at-risk youth in the country. He maintained that the project will demonstrate to the youth how the values of teamwork, science and innovation can help solve economic and healthcare challenges.
He went on to state that Eight Universal Anesthetic Machines (UAM) will be purchased and placed at four faith-based hospitals throughout the country.
He said the UAM was selected for the project because it was specifically designed to address obstacles face in Sierra Leone such as intermittent electricity supply, and lack of medical oxygen.
The in-country manager said workshops and sites visits will show the youth how this equipment is saving lives and improving health outcomes in their communities.
He said the objective is to have program participants feel more empowered over their future, adding that the project will be a two-year effort but will have a long-lasting impact on youth and communities through a greater understanding of each countries shared values. He said the American values are universal values that can help the growth of other countries.
“The ASHA grant is a significant step forward in our work in Sierra Leone,” noted Ben Parra, Executive Director HealeyIRF. “The UAMs will not only provide a needed resource to the health facilities we support, but our partner Caritas Freetown has long worked with at-risk youth wand this will help enhance their project efforts in this critical area.”