Since I have returned from UK last month I have noticed several improvements within the School of Midwifery Makeni.
Despite the obvious lack of money - we have a new generator at the school this means the electricity supply is much more powerful even though it needs to be cut off at lunch time to rest it. The internet although dial up is still working reliably. The 16 computers in the library are for the student midwives - only 2 of the new student midwives have ever touched a computer before - but they are all willing to learn.
The 3 returned Sierra Leonian midwifery tutors have just completed their tutor training in Nigeria. Also we have another VSO midwifery tutor. This brings the department up to 5 tutors plus the Head of School - she can now concentrate on some of her administrative duties.
There are some changes regarding student welfare, storage of lesson plans, twice monthly academic meetings, curriculum development meetings,weekly all staff meetings, use of printed student and staff information which is now posted in strategic places.
This is just a small part of the sustainable organisation of the new school that is happening.
The school now has a motorbike and a truck - which makes life easier for transporting students, although a larger veichle or small minibus is also required considering the numbers of students.
Some student midwives are receiving sponsorships and this helps with funding their education and clinical placements. Much more of this initiative is required.
We still struggle without a photocopier as the engineer who came to fix it did not know what the problem was.
Printing notes for lessons is sometimes slow and currently due to the size of class -the use of powerpoint presentations is prohibitive.
A decision was made to open up the internet in the library to the general public as a means of income generation. However it was pointed out that without specific anti virus protection the computers would almost certainly be open to abuse - even if not deliberately. This has been highlighted and hopefully a sustainable solution will be found. The staff at the school were not aware of the possible issues around contamination from the use of memory sticks, accessing porn, corruption and violent websites.
The library is currently being catalogued by one of the staff into subject headings with a system of identifying each book so that book loans will be a possibility soon.
When I think back to April when I first started - things have improved and will I hope continue so as to provide the midwives Sierra Leone needs to reduce the unacceptable high maternal and infant death rates.