The End or the Beginning?

It’s been over 10 weeks since we set our feet in Sierra Leone for the 2009 project. Some of us are still there (Sam is helping the Red Cross with the follow up sensitization campaign). Some of us have resumed school at Harvard, Princeton, Simon Fraser and more. Others are back at their jobs in Boston and Copenhagen. From all backgrounds around the world, the GMin team visited Sahn Malen with one goal in mind: to work with the local health staff to distribute 4,000 long lasting insecticide treated nets, 100 XO laptops (see http://olpcsm.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=20 to read a detail of our activities) and to learn as much as possible.
Below, I will try to give you a summary of our activities

Collaboration:
In Freetown, we had meetings on almost every given day either with UNICEF, the National Malaria Control Program, the Ministry of Health, Red Cross or NGOs who we wanted to partner with or learn from. In Bo town, we stayed at my house- yes all 11 of us crammed there, in transit to Sahn Malen. Bo is less crowded and calmer than Freetown so it was a great spot to breathe again. In Pujehun, we met with the Red Cross again, the District Council, the District Health Management Team (DHMT), the Chief and other volunteers. At each village, we met everyone as we moved from house to house distributing nets and leading sensitization efforts. We did not just meet all day, We actually went to the field and those meetings were part of the comprehensive and inclusive approach we have.

Outcome: here is a summary of the things we did this summer.

* We each walked about 120 miles.
* We distributed 4,000 Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets. Thank you all so much for your generous donations. Counting in the nets from our 2007 distribution, we now have 5,200 LLINS at homes in Malen Chiefdom.
* We visited 1030 Households in 35 villages. Approximate Nets per Household = 3.8
* Of the 8,890 people that were covered, 2,257 were under-fives and 304 were pregnant women.
* We established a “follow-up” campaign which the Red Cross and the DHMT will lead for the next 3 years.

Future plans:
We invite you to send us comments and suggestions at info@gmin.org but if you are hoping to join in on this initiative, here is what we are thinking at the moment.

“Follow-up” Campaign: We will maintain a follow-up campaign that involves house-to-house sensitization about net usage in addition to general town meetings for the next three years. We will use the results of those to inform our future activities as well.

Upper Malen: Two years after we distributed nets in Sahn Malen town, 90% of recipients still use our nets. We are confident that a similar number will use the nets we distributed this summer. Something seems to be working. So, we plan to cover all of Upper Malen next time. That means, we are looking for 6,000 LLINs and some small change to help with the distribution. If you have suggestions or want to help, again, feel free to drop us an email at info@gmin.org

Being host:
It was absolutely fantastic to have these very entrepreneurial and empathetic guys in my home. They learnt mende beyond what I would have ever imagined, they got settled in with the spicy food and after the first week, were okay with being called “poomuin” in public. The fact that they could introduce the whole crew to locals in mende was a strong indication of their commitment to the ideals of GMin.

List of Crew that went to SL:

Mathias Esmann, Sam Slaughter, Clem Wright, Lauge Schøle, Jake Segal, Carlos Meheux, Faaez Ul Haq, Justin Grinstead, Jamie Appleseed, Jacob Lennheden and myself, David Sengeh.

Jake Segal is wearing an invisibility cloak

Jake Segal is wearing an invisibility cloak

Obviously, all our work would not have been possible without the gallant effort from our Sierra Leonean colleagues and we are ever grateful to them as we are to all donors.

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