Healey International aids relief work amidst Sierra Leone Ebola crisis

By Mohamed Konneh

Healey International Relief Foundation (HIRF) has been aiding relief activities in Sierra Leone since 2005. The main projects supported through the Foundation include St. Mary’s Children’s Home, Fatima House of Light, St. Stephen’s Home for Amputees, Serabu Hospital and the National Health Organization.

The foundation amidst the Ebola outbreak continues to support relief work in the country working with Catholic based organizations to support the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease.

Rev. Father Konteh, Mr. Robert Healey and Ishmeal Charles

Rev. Father Konteh, Mr. Robert Healey and Ishmeal Charles

The foundation in 2013 conducted a survey on 40 health Clinics across the country some of whom were run by communities, faith based organization and government owned. The result of the survey reveals there was need for Sierra Leone to scale up its response on health delivering service. The country’s health delivery system is under resource making it difficult to contain disease outbreaks whenever they occurred.  The survey also had a business plan to support these clinics for future sustainability.

HIRF Board member Rev. Father Peter Konteh, Executive Director Caritas Freetown said ‘part of the business plan was to establish an intravenous fluid (Iv) Plant in Sierra Leone. This he says will provide jobs and provided the much needed funds to support these clinics.

Father Konteh said IVs are imported from India and is costing the government of Sierra Leone a huge amount of money. “Sierra Leone has the materials to produce IVs taking into cognizance the amount of water this country is blessed with. He said having IV production facilities in Sierra Leone will create jobs and reduce government expenditure on the importation of this drug to the country. He said it will be cost effective if the production is done here in Sierra Leone and will reduce the huge financial burden on government.

Father said before the upsurge of the Ebola virus disease outbreak, Sierra Leone was invited to the United States to address congress on the outbreak and to raise awareness. He said the foundation has been supporting the Ebola campaign and supporting orphanage now inhabited with children that have lost their parents from the Ebola disease.

Father said funds that will be derived from this investment will go towards supporting clinics and caring for vulnerable in the Sierra Leonean society.

Ishmeal Alfred Charles is the In-country Program Manager Healey International Relief Foundation. He said the foundation was in Newton recently to support inmates of the St. Stephens Home for Amputees. Charles said the foundation has done so much and continues to more in Sierra Leone.

He said both himself and Father Peter Konteh, visited the U.S. in September 2014 to raise awareness on the Ebola outbreak.

On February 2, 2011, HIRF received the Associate award through World Learning which provided $720,000 to continue the rehabilitation and restoration of Serabu Hospital through strengthened infrastructure and added furnishings, equipment, and supplies.

The award was in collaboration with the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), who provided technical assistance for determining gaps and needs in the health care services provided at the Hospital and strengthening maternal, newborn and child health.

Most recently those activities have been concentrated to Serabu General Hospital, a facility located in the Bumpe Ngao chiefdom in the southern region of the country. Serabu was started as a maternity clinic in the 1950’s and originally attracted patients from four adjacent chiefdoms as well as from Liberia and Guinea.

It was considered one of the premier hospitals and nursing centers in Sierra Leone, but after extensive looting and damage by rebel forces during the civil war that lasted from 1991 until 2002, it was closed, along with its nursing school. With the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the Vatican, the hospital was rebuilt sufficiently to be able to reopen as a 150 bed facility in February, 2009. The EU continued to provide support for staff compensation and some other operational expenses. However, the hospital is in need of additional support for basic infrastructure, equipment, supplies, training, and systems development in order to become fully operational and functionally effective.

Healey International Foundation was established through Mr. Robert T Healey an alumnus of Camden Catholic High School, Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1956 he was admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of New Jersey and the United States Supreme Court. During his 25 years practicing corporate and business law, Mr. Healey, in partnership with his brother, established Viking Yacht Company in 1964. This partnership expanded into Viking Associates, a real estate management and development company, Viking International Resources which is involved in oil and gas exploration and production and Healey Investment Partnership focuses on financial investment and money management.

The major program funded by the Healey International Relief Foundation began as a result of the war in Sierra Leone which ended in 2001. The war left the Country and its people ravaged, most of its institutions for human services destroyed, and people were left without food and shelter. Many of the children were left maimed, disabled and homeless. The foundation has taken on the mission of providing funds, medical equipment, orphanage support and educational needs for poor and vulnerable in Sierra Leone.

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