Tag Archives: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone–Malaria meds and a touch of Melodrama

I sat on the balcony of a nice restaurant having dinner with a Doctor and his wife who were serving a medical mission in Sierra Leone.  A large orange sun was slowly sinking into the cool blueness of Freetown bay, and, in spite of the heaviness in the tropical air, I felt a relaxing peace.  The blaring horns and raucous city noise below us were quieting. If it wasn’t so hard to get there, I thought, this might be a nice place to come on vacation.

“Did you take your malaria meds?” the Doctor asked me.

I began to notice the tiny whine of mosquitoes joining us for dinner.

“I did. Yes. Of course.” I had to think back to whether or not really I did take my pill that morning. I thought so, yes, maybe.

“When we first arrived, we had over thirty cases of malaria each month, among the missionaries. Now, with better precautions and proper meds, that number is down to only four.”

My skin began to itch. I buttoned the collar of my shirt, even though I was sweating in the heat.

“We no longer allow the missionaries to hang their laundry outside to dry,” the Doctor continued, “because a certain type of fly they have here buries it’s larvae in the wet laundry. When you put your clothes on, the larvae buries into your skin. You develop a sore and then, two-weeks later, the flies come out.”


I looked down. To be honest, I wasn’t even really sure what was on my plate. A few moments ago it had tasted okay, acceptable, good even. Now, I wasn’t hungry.

I looked up at the doctor. “Here,” he said, handing me a packet of pills. “Take these if you start to feel sick. They’ll help. Then, go to the doctor as soon as you get home.”

“Would you excuse me,” I said, “I think I’ll turn in early.”

He smiled. His wife smiled. I rushed from the table as the Doctor said something I couldn’t quite make out.

Later that night, after brushing my teeth with bottled water and taking another malaria pill, just to be sure, I turned out the light and climbed into bed, pulling the mosquito netting close around me. Closing my eyes, I heard it again, that unmistakable tiny whine. That’s when it came to me, what the Doctor had said as I left the table.

“There are many ways to die in Africa.”

As I slowly fell asleep, I was sure there were giant mosquitoes landing on the netting surrounding me. I vowed never to hang my laundry outside to dry. And, I thought that a staycation might be a good idea this year, just as soon as I got home–if I got home.

Sierra Leone–Tragedy and Prayer

IMG_4914_Freetown Sierra LeonSierra Leone means Lion Mountains. Legends say that when European explorers first arrived in Sierra Leone, they could hear thunder in the mountains and thought it was roaring lions.

In 1991 the roaring changed from thunder to rockets as civil war broke out in West Africa. The “blood diamond” war devastated Sierra Leone and killed over 50,000 of its people. The war ended in 2002 but the country is still recovering. The people still remember. The scars are very real.

Now, Sierra Leone faces another crisis.


According to the World Health Organization, this recent Ebola outbreak began in neighboring Guinea, and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 people have died in the outbreak, with Sierra Leone losing over 300 people to the deadly virus. Many more are infected. There is no cure. Two Westerners and one Spaniard have received treatment using an experimental drug and appear to be recovering; however, no one from Africa has yet to receive this treatment.

Fear, heartbreak and anger are growing. Neighboring countries are closing their borders. Quarantine and containment appear to be WHO and Government best practices.

I’ve been to Sierra Leone, twice. Recently. It is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. Yet, it is also a West African country. And, there are many ways to die in West Africa.

As I won’t be going back to Sierra Leone anytime soon, I share these pictures from my recent visits.

I offer prayers for the safety of my friends in Freetown along with prayers for the healing of the sick and the healing of the land.