Sunday, 29 July 2007

Your country needs you

I have been reading about Dr Ibrahim Thorle, medical director of Sierra Leone's biggest maternity hospital, who stayed in Sierra Leone to work while so many professionals left. He says

Everybody, especially qualified professionals, cannot leave the country. Someone must take the bold step to remain. My country, Sierra Leone, is at a crucial stage after the war and the help of all professionals is needed the most.

It made me think of a young woman I used to know.

Years ago I was roped into interviewing some students - not a normal part of my job but I had spare time and my colleagues needed some help. One student in particular remains in my memory. She was from Sierra Leone.

She was born in England - her parents were here while her father finished his PhD. She had been sent back to England, alone, to complete her education while supporting herself totally with part time jobs in local shops. Her parents wanted her out of harm’s way while the civil war at home continued. She told me of the times the family had to flee their house and the city without any warning, sometimes even in bare feet.

She worked for a year before university to save up enough money to start off. She finished her degree, including six months at a French university, and worked for a year in a large pharmaceutical company, before deciding to qualify as a teacher.

She used to phone me from time to time to let me know what she was doing and how things were going. The last I heard was when she was about to start the teacher training course. I do hope she has returned to Sierra Leone because her country needs strong, brave women and she is one.

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