Trigger warning: this article has references to death

No parent should ever have to watch their child die of a preventable disease.

In the Mano River Region, this is all too common. The Governments say they provide free vaccinations and tests. The truth is, nothing is free for the communities. Health services of every kind cost money. There are no hospitals or medical health centres in the Mano River region.

Even freedom comes with a hefty price that’s unattainable for the most vulnerable.

Remembering Obediah

We were blessed to work with Obediah Hallie Bongay. He was one of our most proactive MaRSDA members, who served on the Sierra Leone Steering Committee.

Obediah was a special young man. His passion and commitment for his community shined brightly. He introduced MARSDA to KICEDA and spent tireless hours campaigning for action and volunteering his time as Project Manager.

Sadly at just 24 years old, Obadiah’s life was cut short due to poor health, namely Hepatitis B. He had big hopes for the programs. He wanted to be married and raise a family. He was not able to see any of those things come to fruition.

Obediah Hallie Bongay

Lack of health services

Obediah knew he was unwell but didn’t have the means to get a diagnosis early on.

He worked hard to save enough and was diagnosed with Hepatitis B four months after program started in August 2020. By this time, he was at the last stage.

Lack of access to medical facilities meant he wasn’t able to receive treatment. The cost of treatment or transplant was beyond anyone’s means as his liver was already damaged. We knew he would die but did everything we could to keep his faith.

We continued to stay as positive as we could for Obediah until his last breath in December 2020. It was devastating. He had lived in hope of recovery.

Too many young people die too young

Typhoid and Hepatitis B steal many young lives in the Mano River Basin. Young people die without ever knowing of their illness.

Early diagnosis and treatments are out of reach for most people, or not available. They can’t afford the cost to be tested or vaccinated. No medical hospitals or health centres are nearby with the nearest one being unreachable by muddy, corrugated roads. Unfit for vehicles.

Recently, a young man volunteering for the program mysteriously died after vomiting blood one morning when he woke up. He never felt his illness.

The stories represent hundreds other young men and women who are affected by typhoid fever and hepatitis B. Many dying mysterious deaths. Yet so many deaths can be prevented.

The need for health services

MaRSDA is raising funds for health services to help the most vulnerable people in the community and assist delivering our health promotion vision.

We hope, with your help, we can provide basic health needs for the people in the Mano River Basin and prevent deaths like that of Obediah Hallie Bongay.