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."