Before the Beginning

“She arrived septic and in a bad condition”.

I’m sitting in the morning meeting of the hospital that MSF is starting to support, it’s only 8am and already the heat and humidity is building up.

Sierra Leone remains the most dangerous country in the world to be a pregnant woman, and over the last years it has gotten worse.

We are here looking at ways to improve maternity services, but we are also reaching beyond the hospital gates to try and better understand the full picture of what it means to be a pregnant woman in the country.

Team Bangassou

Women often arrive to the department in all sorts of ways. Some walk in, get on the bed and just have a baby. Other’s are transferred from community health centres with complications, and some come through the emergency department.

I was seeing a patient who had had an abortion when the midwife came over to inform me of an emergency transfer; a woman whose waters had broken but the amniotic fluid was pouring out from her back-passage instead of the vagina. It took me a moment to absorb this bluntly put piece of information.

Ode to my parents

Hey, if you all read or hear news about the demonstration and suicide attack in Khost today, don’t panic. We are all safe here.

When my parents were raising their children, I am sure they never imagined that they would one day be receiving texts like these from one of their daughters. 


Surviving Ebola…

Shortly before I left the U.S., I watched President Obama welcome Ebola survivors who had worked during the epidemic in Liberia to the White House, and greet them with handshakes and hugs. At the time, it struck me that beating those incredibly difficult odds was truly something to celebrate, and that those survivors, now members of a tiny club, must be among the happiest and most grateful people on earth.


A few days ago I received an email from journalist who works for The New York Times; she had been in Monrovia in September and asked me to find some information that she needed to complete her report. As it did not seem so urgent to me, I noted it down on the ‘pending issues’ notebook and thought I’d get down to dealing with it later that evening, when I had some time.

As usual, one thing led to another and without realising I forgot all about that request.