My daughter in Newcastle, a medical doctor, had a baby in 2013. No problems were detected during pregnancy and a normal delivery took place. Some two weeks later the baby’s condition changed with abnormal bleeding. A close medical check-up revealed abnormal circulation. It eventually turned out to be heart surgery for a four-month old baby. This news chilled us at home in Sierra Leone. The operation was indeed performed and was successful. However, the situation had a significant impact on my daughter, her husband and me. Although my daughter was fortunate to be able to take all her accumulated leave, her husband, employed barely a few months, eventually lost his job.
At the expiration of my daughter’s leave, and a concessional period which ended in mid-2014, I took a decision to save my daughter’s job. It was a decision I found difficult to make, but I had to, for I love my daughter and above all, children, as shown by my profession as a nursery teacher back at home. I head an infants' and nursery school, St Catherine’s Catholic Pre-Primary, Lakka, a lovely seashore community setting. The school has a population of just over 200 pupils with staff of eight including myself. There are two buildings but not enough to accommodate new children. I developed the school with my partner-friend, Maria Teresa Nardello, an Italian woman, with some meagre funds raised in Italy. We were looking forward to constructing an additional new building to house Classes 4, 5 and 6. Then, to my satisfaction and delight, I would be in charge of a full pre-primary school, a dream of mine. Is it all shattered? I trust all that to the will of the Almighty. I also enjoyed the community life of the Catholic Church as a vice-chairman of the church council, and an active member of the Catholic Women’s Association (CWA). Of course I do not forget also my active participation as a member of the local community development organisation. In my decision I did reflect on all these.
Having decided, I finally left the shores of Sierra Leone on 29 July, 2014, for Australia, my first flight. My condition was rather weak as I had my own medical problem of diabetes which I had contended with for some time now, amidst all my activities. That, I was resolute, would not stop my decision. It was Ebola period in Sierra Leone and some neighbouring countries, making travel restrictions another problem which I overcame. Fortunately my journey came shortly before the ban on flights from Sierra Leone, or my dream would have lain in ruins. I enjoyed a rousing welcome at the airport in Sydney and finally in Newcastle. It was a joy to see my granddaughter and to wipe tears from my daughter’s cheeks. She was back at work, hoping her long ordeal was over. One week, and another week later things turned around for me and her again! I was more unwell than usual, given my diabetes. My illness turned out to be a case of cancer of the intestine, precisely the pancreas.
I sat down, desolate, on my hospital bed, dressed in operation gear for the theatre, tears rolled down my cheeks and those of my daughter and we both hugged together and prayed. I then surrendered my whole self as never before to Christ as I was moved away. It turned out the operation, of nine hours' duration, was successful and was not a big ordeal at all. It was the procedures following that I dreaded most, the chemotherapy and radiation. Thanks to the Almighty I survived all these and I am alive, playing with my granddaughter. I thank God for all the support, moral and material, from relatives, friends, CWA, the Catholic Community, the dear Sisters. I remain assured in the Lord that I will be blessed to return and continue my work at home. I consider my decision worthwhile after all and an experience worth sharing. Praise the mighty Lord! Amen.