By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Country Director of Healey International Relief Foundation (HealeyIRF), Ishmael Alfred Charles, has informed pressmen that the Healey International Relief Foundation has received a grant of $234,000 from the United States Agency International Development (USAID) grant through the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program to support its work in Sierra Leone.
He made that disclosure during a snap press conference held on Friday 18th November, 2022 at Caritas Freetown Conference Hall on Kingtom in Freetown.
The Country Director said that ASHA program focuses on at-risk youth and improving health outcomes and that the program works to strengthen local capacity and to increase mutual understanding between the U.S and other countries by funding projects at schools, libraries, and hospitals that highlight U.S. values.
He stated that HealeyIRF will partner with Caritas Freetown to implement the “Innovate Your Future Project” which will focus on reaching at-risk youth in Sierra Leone and demonstrating to them how the values of teamwork, science, and innovation can help solve economic and healthcare challenges, adding that Sierra Leone has a very young population with nearly 25% of the population between the ages of 10-19.
He disclosed that to support the program eight Universal Anesthesia Machines (UAM) will be purchased and placed at four faith-based hospitals throughout the country, furthering that a UAM was selected for the project as it was specifically designed to address obstacles many hospitals face in Sierra Leone such as intermittent electricity supply and lack of medical oxygen.
He maintained that during project workshops and site visits they will show the youth how this equipment is saving lives and improving health outcomes in their communities and that through those program efforts and other planned activities the project objective of having program participants feeling more empowered over their future will be realized.
“The ASHA grant is a significant step forward in our work in Sierra Leone,” noted Ben Parra, Executive Director of HealeyIRF. He said the UAMs will not only provide the needed resources in the health facilities they support, but their partner ,Caritas Freetown, has long worked with at-risk youth and that will help enhance their project efforts in that critical area.
He informed pressmen that HealeyIRF has been working in Sierra Leone since 2001 and has partnered with Caritas Freetown on a variety of areas or issues including disaster relief, delivery of healthcare services, and education, concluding that the Innovate Your Future Project will be a two-year effort but will have a long-lasting impact on youths and communities through a greater understanding of each country’s shared values.