The European discovery of Sierra Leone occurred in 1462 by Portuguese explorers. The country was named Sierra Leone (Portuguese for Lion Mountain) because the mountainous coastline resembled lions. In 1787, the country was colonized and governed by Britain until independence in 1961. It became an educational center for the West Coast of Africa (Fourah Bay College, Freetown, established in 1827) and was known as “the Athens of West Africa”.
Bunce (Bonthe) Island was a center for slave trade in the 1800s. The Amistad Story is a vivid portrayal of this period. Later on the country of Sierra Leone was established by freed African Slaves (Krio) and an Arab Minority. Independence was gained April 1961.
Poverty, tribal rivalries and official corruption resulted in the 1991 outbreak of a 10 year civil war that resulted in the death of over 50,000 people, the maiming of thousands (an effective Revolutionary United Front Rebel Group Terror Tactic through amputation of hands/arms/feet/legs/ears/other body parts) to control the population and recruit/retain child
soldiers. The 2006 film, “Blood Diamond”, is a relatively accurate portrayal of the havoc caused by this war. The majority of the population had to flee their homes and live in the bush or neighboring countries where they remained for up to ten years. This displacement has disrupted families, education, health care, employment, agriculture, religion and infrastructure throughout the country.
President Ernest Bai Koroma (All People’s Congress-APC-Party) was elected in September 2007. Former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah first took office in 1996 but was toppled in 1997 only to be reinstated the same year by a West African Intervention Force. With British military help, a civil war ceasefire was realized in November 2000 which led to the presence of UN Forces. With the help of the United Nations Forces, UNAMSIL, a Peace Agreement was finalized in January 2002, followed by Democratic Elections the same year. An UN-backed war crimes court was set up to try those from both sides who bear the greatest responsibility for the wartime brutalities. With the departure of the UN Peacekeeping Forces in 2005, Sierra Leoneans now control their destiny. A transitional UN Force remains as well as a British Oversight Force.
Sierra Leone faces the challenges of: reconstruction, high unemployment, the rehabilitation of 70,000 former combatants, curbing the “blood diamond trade”, and the continuing problems with poverty/tribal rivalries/official corruption that caused the 1991 Civil War. Legitimate diamond exports and exploitation of mineral reserves have contributed to the positive growth of the economy.
US CIA Government 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010;
World Health Organization: Core Health Indicators
GBGM: Sierra Leone Country 2005 Profile; Bishop Yambasu 2010
Bishop Hopkins has a long acquaintance with Sierra Leone Resident Bishop Humper (retired in 2009) and Bishop John Yambasu. With the added personal connection of Missionary Nurse Beth Ferrell, the seed to explore an increased involvement with Sierra Leone in the healthcare and community-based health training was planted. Consultation between the Bishops was positive. The mission outreach of the EOC in Sierra Leone is in consultation with and approval of the Sierra Leone UMC Annual Conference.
Beatrice Gbanga, nurse midwife, GBGM Missionary and Community-Based Health Coordinator for West Africa is part of the ongoing consultation and helps coordinate the EOC involvement.
"In spite of the perpetual state of war, the United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone remains optimistic and a beacon of hope to those in need. Mission partner churches, conferences and friends within and abroad bring aid to the church. Without such assistance it would be extremely difficult for the church to engage in effective and productive ministries. The people of Sierra Leone deal with the emotional and physical wounds of war and disease. Evangelization and pastoral care to the needy are a priority. The church in Sierra Leone needs the financial and moral support of God's people around the world."
- Source: General Board of Global Ministries"
Manjama United Methodist Health Center (MUMHC) is located four miles north of Bo in the Southern Province. continues MUMHC to serves the surrounding very poor villages with an average income of less that $1-$2/day/working adult.
MUMHC provides outpatient care for all ages; normal deliveries for maternity patients; referral of complicated pregnancies/deliveries; continuing education programs for traditional birth attendants (TBAs) from the surrounding villages; Maternal Heath Prenatal Clinics and Under Five Nutrition and Immunization programs; and outreach programs into the villages.
In 2010, the Sierra Leone Government began offering free health care for maternity patients and under-five year olds. These services are being offered through donor agencies with an unknown time table for the availability of these free services. The need for this strategy is evident: maternal mortality rate (1%*); infant mortality rate (7.8%*); and under-five underweight rate (21.3%*). However, the religious health centers through out the country were not included in this program and are being impacted by decreased patient visits putting the survival of these health centers in jeopardy.
In 2005, MUMHC was named a Pilot Project site for Community-Based Health Care Training (CBHT) in Rural Health Center in Sierra Leone. Partners in this endeavor are the Sierra Leone UMC Conference, East Ohio UMC Conference, Virginia UMC Conference and UMCOR Health.
The East Ohio UMC Conference (EOC) has designated MUMHC as one of the 3Cs Task Force Clinic Projects in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
In 2009, Mercy UMC Hospital, supported by the VA UMC Conference and as directed by the Sierra Leone UMC Conference, was assigned the administrative responsibility for MUMHC. This does not include financial support.
(*2008 CIA Sierra Leone Country Profile)
Community Based Health training includes:
The East Ohio UM Conference involvement in Community-Based Health Training follows the UMCOR Health mandate and guidelines.
UMCOR Health is working towards decreasing maternal and child mortality communities. By using a community-based approach UMCOR is engaging communities in their own health concerns so that the program will continue and grow according to the community’s needs. Access to basic health care dramatically increases the health of mothers and their babies.
For more information on UMCOR Guidelines
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH.
near the Akron-Canton airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW ·
North Canton, OH 44720
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