Ibrahim started working with the Rotary Club of Adelaide Central in mid 2022, following his initial visits to our Club leading up to Christmas. We feel fortunate that he immediately shared with us his personal passion to build a Hospital in his home region of Sierra Leone, West Africa.
You will be amazed at the story that follows, but you can also read more about this Hospital project, now an official Club Project, by visiting these links:-
About the Hospital in Tombo (Tumbu)
Coming to Australia
Ibrahim was fortunate to have the opportunity to migrate to Australia in 2007 from Guinea after fleeing a civil War in Sierra Leone. The War had lasted for 10 Years with many people losing their lives and many more suffering amputated arms or legs.
Ibrahim personally lost family members and close friends, however today, considers himself very lucky to be in this great country called Australia, enjoying opportunities that he never dreamed of growing up as a child.
He went through a very difficult childhood. But today has built a career in Adelaide working with people with disabilities as a Disability Support Worker with one of Adelaide leading NDIS aligned support organisations, a position he still holds to this day after many years of enjoyment working with them.
In 2007, Ibrahim by sheer chance met his partner Samira here in Adelaide, and soon found out she was from the same country!
Joy and Tragedy
In 2013 they were blessed with the birth of their first child, a boy, soon followed by the news that a little girl (Salmana) was due in early 2014 … it was a very exciting time. However, their dreams were cut short only to find out 22 weeks later that they were going to make the hardest and most emotional decision of their lives.
After 22 weeks, a routine scan delivered the saddest news that their baby was not developing - diagnosed with Hypo Left Heart Syndrome. The Doctors gave them the ultimate task of making a heart breaking decision. If they proceeded with the pregnancy, it was highly likely there would be great complications along the way for both the baby and mum, with no guarantee that either would survive.
They made the toughest decision to let go and grieve. Little Salmana’s funeral was held two weeks later.
During this grieving process, Ibrahim and Samira received some funds from friends in their community … AU$750.
They thought and asked questions of themselves “what could we buy that would last forever in the name of this child that we have lost?”. As young parents it was a very hard process.
This is when Ibrahim and Samira came up with the idea to build a hospital back home in Sierra Leone that could last a lifetime.
A Hospital ... and a Bridge ... and a Hall
Even here in Australia they went through this trauma, not thinking anything like this could happen. They asked themselves “what of where we come from, women get pregnant and will never seek to see a doctor … babies and children die of unknown causes. Let’s go ahead with building them a hospital in our region of Sierra Leone and help a few if not hundreds”.
At first, Ibrahim and Samira were thinking of a very small hospital of 10 Beds offering locals day to day medical treatment (even though the project has rather expanded since!).
They contacted a family friend in Sierra Leone and told him about their dream. He informed them that he knew a Town that is very poor, with extremely sick people struggling to receive any medical treatment. Their closest services (if they had transport) being a Hospital in Freetown (about 1hour and 20 minutes away).
They proposed the idea to local community leaders, who accepted the concept but asked if Ibrahim and Samira could pay some money towards this project.
In 2015 they decided to start with a payment of AU$4,000 from their own pockets to buy one acre of land in Tombo Madina, and named the Hospital Salmana Heart Foundation after their 2nd baby.
This financial gift not only paid for the land, they were also able to construct a bridge for the community, plus a community hall. Ibrahim made a promise that they wanted to help build a hospital next.
This project is extremely dear to Ibrahim’s heart.
Since 2015, he and Samira have continued to dedicate much time and more of their personal money as they have worked towards their dream of constructing and opening this hospital.
Throughout their journey, they have encountered many ups and downs, however they have stayed committed and worked hard to make this dream a reality.
Ebola; COVID-19 ... and a Hospital!
In 2015, Sierra Leone was hit very badly by the deadly Ebola virus. Ibrahim traveled to Sierra Leone in late 2015 to start the construction of the Salmana Heart Foundation Hospital only to find almost all of his childhood friends had died from Ebola. He was devastated.
Due to lack of a medical care, too many people did not survive. All of the money Samira had saved up at that time to start construction, he gave to the sick and poor people. He thought to himself Ebola was even more extreme than the Civil War. There was sadness everywhere he looked. Almost all families were affected.
Ibrahim returned to Australia that year very sad, but returned to Sierra Leone in 2017 to again try to start the hospital construction. This time successfully. It was slow due to the finance they were sending, but it was going well and the local team were making progress … until in 2020. This time COVID-19 hit and everything stopped around the world!
Despite this hardship and the challenges over the years, Ibrahim and Samira did not give up - staying dedicated to their dream.
Construction resumed in 2021. It has been very hard but they are almost there and they have now sent more than AU$30,000 of their own monies ... enough to almost fully build Stage 1 of the hospital ... with room for 30 Beds!
At time of writing in January 2023, construction on Stage 1 is almost finished and they are ready to work with Rotary Adelaide Central's network (including Donations in Kind) to obtain beds and medical equipment.
Experience has taught them what is possible with the dedication, passion, resilience, hope, strength and support of a community.