Its Rainy season in West Africa and when it rains here, it rains. Not the drizzly fine mist we sometimes experience in the Western Hemisphere, but big fat drops of warm thunderous water that commands attention from anyone and anything around. As Toto famously sang in 1982, “I bless the rains down in Africa” (click for song)
A couple weeks ago I watched from the balcony of my guest house in Bo, Sierra Leone, one balmy afternoon as first the skies darkened, and then the breeze picked up eventually becoming so strong that the trees around bowed to it. Even the sun hid its face and then the skies opened, emptying out what seemed like waters from the deep. The sound was majestic, soothing, almost melodic followed afterward by natures response from birds, frogs and insects around.
As much as I enjoy the rains, sometimes standing in it, watching it, listening to it. I am also reminded of what it means to be close to term for a pregnant woman in a village in the rainy season in Sierra Leone. It means a 30 – 40% higher chance of dying giving birth simply because the roads become impassable and getting needed help can be near impossible.
A couple weeks ago I listened to stories from women in Sierra Leone. Stories of trying to get a vehicle through muddied washed out roads to a woman in labour in dire need of medical attention. Stories of women drowning as they try to cross flooded rivers in a dug out canoe to access a clinic. Stories of what tragedy this beautiful African rain can bring.
And so at Freedom Tree as we fight maternal and infant mortality we continue to work toward a future where basic medical care is not only available but also accessible for those who need it most regardless of the season.