meet mariama. she perseveres.
Six weeks ago, 14-year-old Mariama was having abdominal pain, but she went to school and attended after-school tutoring anyway. She appeared ill, her eyes having a yellow tint to them, so her RESTORE HOPE tutor alerted our nurse, Gladys Zarbay, who arranged for Mariama to be evaluated at Kolahun Hospital.
Mariama was ultimately admitted, treated for hepatitis and discharged a week later. Her access to basic medical care was made possible by RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA (RHL).
Today, Liberia’s healthcare system is at risk of collapsing. The nation’s hospitals are under-resourced, and conditions that began deteriorating two years ago continue to decline. Thanks to the diligence and compassion of Gladys Zarbay, Mariama got treatment she needed at Kolahun Hospital, and she received her initial medications. Unfortunately, for most Liberians, however, this would not have been possible.
Liberia’s hospitals lack even the most basic of medical supplies and medications. All diagnostic tests and treatment supplies must be paid for by patients or their families. While Liberia’s economy contracts and inflation increases, essential human services and infrastructure are collapsing. Rural roads have become more perilous during the rainy season. Many Liberians struggle to access medical care only to be faced with insurmountable costs once they reach a healthcare facility. The majority of Liberians can’t afford to buy diagnostic tests such as a malaria screen or basic medical supplies like IV catheters and fluids, much less therapeutic, often life-saving medications. The outcome? Declining numbers of clinic visits, empty hospital pharmacy shelves, and the ominous spectacle of empty hospital beds. People are choosing to face illness, even death, at home.
At age 3 years, Mariama underwent surgical repair of a large and disabling abdominal wall defect on board Mercy Ships’ Africa Mercy. The timing was fortuitous, as there were no other treatment options in Liberia for her rare condition. Her recovery went well, but some six years later, Mariama still hadn’t attended school. She was living with her mother in a remote village in northern Kolahun District. There was no money to pay school fees and buy a school uniform.
Thanks to the initiative of several Kolahun community members and the support of medical alumni of Kolahun Hospital, Mariama began school in 2013 at the age of 9. She would become one of RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA’s first beneficiaries.
Mariama’s life is exemplary of many young lives in Liberia: a life of ongoing challenges including post-conflict poverty, food insecurity, educational barriers and under-resourced healthcare. Her perseverance is exceptional. Mariama inspires.
We could help Mariama because of you. Thank you. RHL seeks to do more for more children. RHL plans to increase advocacy for improved diagnostics and treatment in Liberia. RHL continues to advocate for improved rural roads and access to healthcare. We ask for your help to continue supporting Mariama and children like her - children who stoically seek to endure and lead lives of meaning and hope.