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ROW in Sierra Leone

In January, ROW traveled to Sierra Leone to visit our partners and to meet some of the people impacted by our work. What we observed first-hand was the extreme difficulties faced by people with epilepsy, the determination and dedication of our partners’ staff, and the difference that ROW’s medication and financial support are making. As part of our ongoing effort to capture stories that highlight the global treatment gap and ROW’s impact, we’ve created a number of short videos that illuminate our work.

Access to Medication

While the government provides some types of medication for free, this does not include anti-seizure medicines (ASMs). Because so many live in poverty, ASMs are simply not affordable. Purchasing a daily supply of the medication that ROW grants would cost over 50% of household income for many. The result is that most people do not take medication and regularly have seizures, often multiple per day. During the trip, we met many single mothers who understand that epilepsy is a medical condition, but simply cannot afford medication for their child.

Extreme Stigma

Beyond this lack of access to medication, people with epilepsy face extreme stigma and cruelty. We heard repeated stories of complete rejection by family members and the community. One girl, despite her seizures being under control, is forced by her family to sleep in the chicken coop. Another father of a young woman with epilepsy had to build a fence around his house to keep neighbors from bullying his daughter. We met 10 single mothers whose husbands had left them because the woman had born a “demon child”. During our visit, Max Bangura, Executive Director of Epilepsy Alliance of Sierra Leone (EASL), recounted how EASL has been addressing the epilepsy treatment and knowledge gaps in schools and in the local community.

Partnerships Make the Difference

Thankfully, our dedicated partners are making progress. ROW has established long-term partnerships with Healey International Relief Foundation, Medical Assistance Sierra Leone, Loreto Clinic, Connaught Hospital, Ola During Children’s Hospital, and the Epilepsy Alliance of Sierra Leone.

Partner with Us

Your partnership with ROW provides essential funding needed to mobilize medication and provide education and diagnostic support across 38 countries, including in communities in Sierra Leone. Will you consider a gift to ROW today to make an impact on the “Rest of World”?

See more ROW videos on our YouTube channel.
Special thanks to filmmaker Jack Pendelton for helping us tell these stories from Sierra Leone.

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