Saving Lives in Sierra Leone


When David Amadu '07, a student from Sierra Leone, stopped to chat with his new neighbors in Mary Low last year, he didn't know the conversation might save a life back home.

By Gerry Boyle '78

Amadu's neighbors, Erin Rhoda '06 of Washington, Maine, and Emily Mosites '06 of Pittsburgh, were just back from a semester in Cork, Ireland. Both had spent time in Africa, but they were unfamiliar with Amadu's country. "He'd just sit down in our room and talk for hours," Rhoda said. "He told us the entire history of Sierra Leone."

A part of that history is an 11-year civil war that tore the country apart until a peace settlement was forged in 2002. One rural region in the Eastern Province, where Amadu's relatives still live, was especially hard hit and remains isolated today, with subsistence farmers simply trying to feed their families. In a region where poverty is endemic, preventive healthcare is not a top priority.

Among the prevalent, and preventable, diseases is malaria, Sierra Leone's leading cause of death of children under 5. "Adults can fight it off," said Amadu, a biology major planning to attend medical school. "With children and pregnant women, it's a big problem."

But it's a problem, the students decided, that can be addressed. "We said, 'We can do something,'" Rhoda recalled. "If we want to, we can do it."

The plan that emerged includes purchasing 2,000 insecticide-treated bed nets, the most effective way of preventing exposure to the mosquito-borne disease. The group"which soon included Jess Emerson '08, Kirsten Duda '09, Peter Steinour '07 (just back from Botswana)"also planned volunteer activities and an educational piece about causes and prevention.

The students have worked to raise money through various fund raisers and plan to leave for Africa June 2, returning June 30.

"It's just to see another life being saved," Amadu said. "That bed net is going to last two years and during that time, that kid is not going to get malaria. For a little money, you can save a life."
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  • On July 14, 2006, Ibrahim Dabo wrote:
    It's always great to help your country when in need and this is a good move by Amadu. I am also from Sierra Leone and planning good moves to help those in need down there. Anyone who can help, saving just one precious life makes a difference.