International Medical Corps in Sierra Leone held a widely-attended celebration to mark the REAL Awards, a first-of-its-kind global program designed to develop greater awareness and appreciation for the lifesaving care provided by health workers around the world. International Medical Corps’ nominee, Aminata Shamit Koroma (National Nutrition Program Manager in Sierra Leone), was selected as one of ten global REAL Award honorees. On April 12, 2013, International Medical Corps’ Sierra Leone team celebrated Ms. Koroma—along with two other health workers and lead mothers from our nutrition Care Groups—at an event that featured inspiring stories from the honorees, critical health education and a nutritious meal for all attendees.
Coinciding with World Health Worker Week (April 8-12), International Medical Corps’ REAL Awards celebration took place in the Mathoir community of Tonkolili District, where we help implement the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Sustainable Nutrition and Agriculture Promotion (SNAP) program. The ceremony was attended by a cross-section of program beneficiaries and stakeholders, including partner organizations, dignitaries from the Sierra Leone government, traditional community leaders, USAID and SNAP representatives, and school children from the Mathoir community. Three Sierra Leonean frontline health workers received certificates of appreciation from International Medical Corps for their work delivering much-needed care in some of the poorest and hardest-to-reach communities throughout Sierra Leone. Honorees included:
Aminata Shamit Koroma: With extensive expertise in nutrition, Ms. Koroma was appointed as the Ministry of Health’s National Nutrition Program Manager to revive Sierra Leone’s nutrition sector, which collapsed after the country’s food crisis. Ms. Koroma has achieved a remarkable amount in her short tenure, including instituting a Nutrition Working Group through which she spearheaded the development of high-impact and sustainable nutrition interventions throughout the country. As a result of Ms. Koroma’s tireless advocacy, nutrition is being recognized at the Parliament-level and by other stakeholders as a key strategy for improving the health of women and children, which is essential to overall development in Sierra Leone.
Aisha Alpha Kargbo: Born in Masumbri village, Kafe Simira Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District, Ms. Kargbo is currently managing the Macrogba Maternal and Child Health Post, supervising the activities of traditional birth attendants, volunteers and vaccinators. Ms. Kargbo has played a major role in saving the lives of children and women of childbearing age through programs in immunization, infant and young child feeding, integrated management of infant and childhood illness, safe delivery practices, and malaria net distribution.
David Calmin Conteh: Born in Rogbangba village in the Gbonkolenken Chiefdom, Mr. Conteh has decades of experience in primary health care and ophthalmology. Between 1991 and 2006, Mr. Conteh was in charge of the eye clinic at Kenema Government Hospital. Since completing advanced studies in Clinical and Health Science at Njala University College in 2009, Mr. Conteh has worked in community health clinics in Tonkolili District, Matotoka and Mile 91, where he is currently posted. Mr. Conteh was instrumental in the fight against a 2012 cholera outbreak in Tonkolili.
In addition to honoring health workers at the REAL Awards celebration, International Medical Corps recognized the Mile 91 Care Group, which is comprised of 15 women selected by their peers for their leadership skills, honesty and willingness to serve their communities. Every two weeks, Care Group members visit households with pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers or children under the age of five to promote health, nutrition and good hygiene practices. International Medical Corps presented lead mothers with t-shirts and cotton lappas (printed fabric) in gratitude for their significant contributions to improved hygiene and sanitation in their communities, which is key to the successful implementation of SNAP.
Fifty school children from Mathoir’s five schools participated in the REAL Awards ceremony where awardees shared their personal stories in order to inspire and motivate them to do well in school. During the ceremony, short plays were presented first by lead mothers on the use of tippy taps (handwashing stations), followed by Freetown comedians who helped raise awareness of teenage pregnancy and its negative social, economic and health effects. All attendees at the event were provided a nutritious meal with generous support from the Frontline Health Workers Coalition/Save the Children and the Medical Director of SNAP.
International Medical Corps thanks our Sierra Leone team members for their commitment to community health and our generous partners for helping us raise awareness of the inspiring health professionals who work on the frontlines in Sierra Leone and around the world.