My name is Jenifer Sarah Duncan. I was born at the kamakwie district in Sierra Leone. And I am nurse currently working at the Connaught hospital. And S.E.C.H. L nurse and also a mental health nurse. As of now I am working in the general ward specifically ward 2 but very soon I will be working at the psychosocial pillar at the Connaught hospital.
I like everything about my community. People are very friendly and caring. But what I like most is the younger kids that are in my community. They are very respectful to their elders and they are all my friends.
I have a family. I have my husband and we are living together as a family.
Well at my current work as I said before I am working in the ward and also in the psychosocial pillar at the Connaught hospital. I am working with the nurses providing therapy for the nurses, for the survivors. For those that proves negative from the different holding centres that are being admitted in the hospital. Sometimes we go in to see them if they have any mental health conditions.
My friends and family think that the work is too much, especially with stigmatization with mental health. Because I am a mental health nurse so most times they will be stigmatizing me but I normally ignore them because I find joy in doing my job. Providing service for the nurses and those affected. Well for now because we are gradually trying to open the facility formally. The psychosocial and counselling department in the Connaught hospital. But I have other people the Ethiopians, Dr Stania kamara the psychiatrist from London working with us at the Connaught hospital. I am also providing services for the Maculey street nurses and olla during nurses. So for Connaught hospital we provide training, we do stress assessment, stress management forums and other related conditions to mental health. We also visit patient that are having mental health disorders that have been referred to us from the various ward. And patient also that have been referred to us from holding and in the treatment centres that are in the ward. We also provide therapy for the nurses, nurses in the holding centres and in the isolation ward and nurses in general. The sister nurse will call upon us to provide therapy for them. There are series of patient that we have been seeing that have mental condition. They are suffering from stress and even those that survived that have been medical conditions. They have been stigmatized so we provide counsel and encourage them. And those that need medication, medication are provided to them by the doctor who is Dr Stania Kamara.
I decided to do nursing because I like the job. Since I was growing up, I had wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. But with my personality I am a type of person that like to take care of somebody. And that is why I decided to do nursing.
Yes my job is very important. The fact that I am providing care therapy, helping people that we think are not important. To make them realize that they are very important that makes me feel very happy in providing service for every set of person.
The hard moment in working in the Connaught hospital was the time Ebola started. It was very tedious because it is a new thing and we have never faced such epidemic before. So it was not easy for us to come to work. Unless we have to encourage ourselves as nurses, medical personnel. Because it came to a time when the nurses do not come to work unless we have to conduct a stress management forum to help them handle their stress and use their coping mechanism so they will be able to come to work. Those where stressful time for us when it started.
Thank God I am a mental health nurse so I used my skills the coping mechanism skills and this has helped me a lot. And if I am stress I try to speak out to colleague friends. I normally do exercise, watch movies, read books to help me cope with the stress. And that has helped me so much.
As a hero I was fighting against Ebola which has destroyed a lot of people, our friends, family members, colleagues a lot of economic situations and everything has been bankrupt. But as an hero now we think the number is gradually reducing so we are happy because we know at the end of the day we will win. Because of all what we have been doing, the people that have been helping us from various countries to fight this war.
My power and inspiration came first from me because I was determined purposefully that I will not quit for my colleagues mental health nurses we always encourage ourselves. My nurses at Connaught hospital, my boss matron who is always a motivator to us, to see that we push and we have been doing it since up to this time.
The memory or thought that I will take with me from this whole experience is when we heard about other organizations coming to take care of survivors, quarantined homes, relatives and all the rest. We never had people coming to provide therapy or services for colleague nurses. About 21 of us now 20 because we lost one during the Ebola crisis. We took upon ourselves we came together and said we are going to provide therapy for our colleagues and that is what we are doing presently in the entire district. There are mental health nurses that have been posted in different district and we are working effectively. And not only for nurses colleagues, but for survivors and others.
As I said earlier on that we lost one of our colleagues because 21 of us where trained as mental health nurse and Mr Ibrahim Bah was at portloko government hospital and got infected with Ebola and died so that’s a pity for us. But there is a lady that has taken his place now and she is presently working at portloko government hospital.
Because we have never witnessed such before I think because of all the experiences we have got it will strengthen us more if there will be an occurrence again after 10 years. So we will be prepared to handle it more than what happened. it gives me more hope and confident that no matter the type of epidemic that is affecting our nation we will be able to tackle it.
I think this is the time we have to be on our legs because we are thinking about post-traumatic stress disorder. Because for people that have survived, for nurses that were working in holding and treatment centres and in the general wards. For relatives and children that have lost their parent. Those that have lost their loved ones, they will be going through grief, stigma, discrimination and all of these. So we have to prepare ourselves now and start working to help them.
My struggle now is to see that we continue to do our best in every sector.
The best thing I thing that can happen to me now is to get up one morning and listen to news and they say we have zero case.
My work was part of the whole struggle in this crisis because we were providing therapy for the nurses. We talked to the survivors, to patient that have lost their loved ones. For those that have been admitted in the hospital that prove negative to reassure them and give them hope that there is a better life ahead of them and continue to provide service for them.
My wish and hope for the future of Sierra Leone is that when we hear about issues pertaining to the nation culling our way we should stand and be ready to take the lead and be ready for it. Because of what happened in this crisis we should have gotten rid of what has happened now. So we should try by all means to take the bull by the horn.
What I think should happen now to Sierra Leoneans as a whole is when we have no Ebola case. I think everybody because if you are in the taxi people will be saying things like oh this Ebola thing should come to an end. We want schools to reopen; we want to do our work. So I think this will be the best for Sierra Leoneans.
I think we should call different stakeholders, colleagues to help fight the post-traumatic stress disorders and the mental conditions that people will be facing. So we will come together and work collaboratively to finish everything.