Nursing Times blogger Becky Cridford on paediatric nursing in Sierra Leone
I am writing to you from a hot, slightly damp and extremely noisy hospital in Sierra Leone. I will be working for the Welbodi Partnership in Freetown, the capital for the next year, thanks to winning funding from the Vodafone World of Difference programme in July.
One in four children in Sierra Leone die before they are five years old (UNICEF 2009) and the Welbodi Partnership aims to improve this by supporting paediatric healthcare. My role is to work in direct partnership with staff at the only paediatric hospital in the country, the Ola During Children’s Hospital. There will be three of us on-site, and I will be focusing mainly on in-service training, the practical implementation of that training and assisting members of staff from all departments to become involved in the process of improvement.
I committed to volunteering for the Welbodi Partnership in April, and was busy working every shift I could to fund myself. When my Dad saw an advert to receive funding to volunteer for a year, I sent in my application for the Vodafone World of Difference programme… about 10 minutes before the deadline! I didn’t expect it to get anywhere, but I hope this experience has taught me (finally) that it’s worth taking aim at the long-shot: someone will win - but it won’t be you if you’ve not given yourself the chance.
After finishing my final set of nights, July rattled past in a rush of visas and vaccinations, packing up and moving out, saying goodbyes, and the thrilling (but exhausting) selection process for the World of Difference programme: the online application; collecting references; a phone interview; a panel interview; a video recording; and finally a nail-bitingly close public vote on Facebook. And finally, here I am, sitting in a hospital in Freetown, listening to the torrential rain, and wondering how the next year will play itself out.
I hope that you will be interested in my work and will follow our progress through the year. I’ve always thought it interesting to hear about how nurses work in different countries: we have so much in common, even when the contexts and constraints are very different. As the first and only nurse to be employed by the Welbodi Partnership long-term, I hope that I can do the profession justice, and I will always be grateful for your advice and comments. I will aim to blog regularly and I will try to describe my experiences faithfully, but being so recently arrived I haven’t had time to gather my thoughts just yet.
For the next few weeks I will simply be keeping my eyes, ears and mind wide open.
Becky Cridford is a nurse who is spending the next year working with The Welbodi Partnership in Sierra Leone, a charity that supports the delivery of vital paediatric care.