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Amanda 2011 GHV First Week Blog

Our first weeks in Salone for the WAMM 2011 Volunteer trip are officially under way. We started our Young Scholars of Sierra Leone Program two weeks ago and the response we have received has been amazing. The students are so eager to learn and are making the program so successful. The volunteers are enthusiastic about the program and very motivated to plan lessons and to teach the students about healthcare and disease in West Africa.

Top row L to R: Frank Amadau, Jess Vig, Jess Gergen, Gabriel Warren. Bottom Row L to R: Ashley Brown, Mary Wangen, Sonya Sturgis, Amanda Durin

A group picture of our 2011 WAMM teaching volunteers. We have recently had a few more guys from the University of Minnesota join us who are very excited to be here as well.


The overall focus of our program is to strengthen the healthcare capacities of Sierra Leone. One way we are doing this is through the YSSL program. We really aspire for our students to become critical thinkers so that they have a deeper understanding of what they are learning, how it pertains to their lives, and how it pertains to Sierra Leone and West Africa in general. We want them to be able to the take the knowledge we teach them and be able to apply it to their everyday lives. The program is off to a very strong start and we know there will be a great turn out of young scholars for the local communities by the time our teaching is complete.

Students viewing a cell life video on the first day of class. They were very excited to learn all about the cell and it’s many functions.


A current YSSL student drawing and explaining cellular functions to his peers.


Our young scholars from last year have been incredibly loyal to the program. They are in a new role this year to assist us with teaching and managing the classroom. We hope to have them leading lectures within the upcoming weeks. They provide us with a lot of input from the current students and from their own perspective as past students and now present day young scholars.

Above are two of our young scholars who successfully completed the program and are still working hard with the new students and volunteers to make this year just as effective


Along with the YSSL program flourishing our volunteers have begun the clinical research aspect of the mission. Two of our volunteers are microbiologists and are working with a local pharmacy. They are conducting research through questionnaires and speaking with members of the community about different medications that are readily available here. The main focus for them is looking at anti-biotic resistance because antibiotics are sold over the counter and do not always require a prescription. They are trying to collect data to see what type of symptoms and diseases people are trying to cure with antibiotics and why antibiotics don’t always work because as we know it depends on the type of infection.


We are also doing volunteer work with the national HIV and AIDS network. We are currently constructing a training manual for support groups, so that they are able to receive educational information on how to live positively with HIV and AIDS. There are many factors that are important when thinking about this project because of the poverty levels and trying to adjust the manual to pertain directly to the people living with HIV and AIDS in Sierra Leone.


When the workweek is over we relax on one of the many gorgeous beaches in Sierra Leone. Last week we took an overnight camping trip to Bureh beach about 45 minutes out of Freetown. We also enjoy Sunday afternoons at Lumley beach playing or watching football. Our team is well aware that a nice swim in the ocean is a great way to become refreshed from the intense heat.

A snapshot of the landscape at Bureh Beach. Absolutely beautiful.