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The Global Action Foundation:
Dan Kelly and Dr. Mohamed Barrie

GAF is celebrating the opening of a free medical clinic in Kono, Sierra Leone (the first of its kind). Kono Medical Clinic opened Sunday, January 20th, 2008, to serve amputees and those disabled in the war.

Published 2/12/2008

Children in Sierra Leone
Sarah Bones
Children in Sierra Leone

Born and raised in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, fourth year medical student Dan Kelly of Albert Einstein College of Medicine went to Sierra Leone, West Africa with the support of Albert Einstein Global Health Fellowship during his 3rd year of medical school. The problems he encountered in Sierra Leone were in need of solutions greater than immediate medical care. Dan chose not to wait to finish med school to start building that solution. In partnership with Sierra Leonean physician Mohammed Barrie, Dan founded the Global Action Foundation (GAF) to meet the immediate needs of severely impoverished Sierra Leoneans and help them transition to a state of sustainable self-reliance.

The needs in Sierra Leone are profound and desperate -- more complex than medical care alone. Communities need education and larger institutional development. In its first year of operation, GAF has responded to the most urgent needs expressed by impoverished communities: those of war amputees and severely malnourished children through the creation of two major projects.

Amputees at the GAF clinic, Sierra Leone
Sarah Bones
Amputees at the GAF clinic, Sierra Leone

The first, called the War Amputees Project, centers around the Kono Medical Clinic to open January 20th, 2008 in the Kono District -- a region most ravaged by the war. Kono is the diamond-mining district and contains the highest concentration of amputated war victims. The permanent clinic is providing free medical services for all war-disabled citizens and their families. Meanwhile, amputees receive treatment in a mobile clinic, currently held in the home of Sabindi, a friend and amputee. Since its inception, this small mobile clinic has seen more than 1600 patients and cared for over 500 amputees, war disabled and their dependents.

The second program, the Severely Malnourished Project, operates in Port Loko, where the prevalence of severely malnourished children is the highest in the country. What began as a subsidy for children’s hospital bills flourished into a generous UNICEF contract that delivered therapeutic milk formula to the Port Loko Hospital, St. John of God. Through partnership with UNICEF, GAF has trained 480 local women as health promoters, twelve of whom manage a pilot program that has, in turn, educated over 1,000 women in the recognition and prevention of severe malnutrition. GAF has fully rehabilitated 280 children so far.

Citizens of Sierra Leone suffer the aftermath of a brutal ten-year civil war, a bloody conflict that left many of them mutilated and severely impoverished. Over 80% of the population subsists on less than one U.S. dollar per day and lack basic human necessities: food, clean water and medical services. Mothers need instruction in the proper feeding and care of their infants, children have no schools to attend and adults lack the financial resources to start their own businesses. The aggregate problem is complicated and begs a broad-sighted solution.

The greater vision of GAF is a healthy, sustainable Sierra Leone, free from dependence on foreign aid. To this end, GAF helps amputees raise rice and local foods through a micro-agriculture program. Future plans include the construction of a secondary/technical school, and a micro-credit center to provide small business loans.

Related Links

Global Action Foundation home page

Healing the Horror, by Rathe Miller, for The Philadelphia Enquirer, Feb 11, 2008
The amputees were everywhere. A leg, an arm, often both arms chopped off at the wrists or the elbows. They barely survived by begging in the streets. Dan Kelly, a third-year medical student from Valley Forge, knew they were the wounded from a decade-long civil war that had devastated Sierra Leone. What he did not know was why no one was helping them. more

Photographs from Sierra Leone, by Sarah Bones

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