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  • Writer's pictureSextant Foundation

More Reliable Care for Newborns

When our volunteers arrived at the NICU, the hospital staff were eager to get the solar installed, for the sake of the little ones in their care.

When the power went out, nurses had to run with these tiny babies in their arms 100 yards in the heat to a building that had power to reconnect them to oxygen concentrators,” volunteer Jeff Rodriguez observed. Now, they have a safer, more reliable way to continue providing care for these newborns requiring oxygen.

Upon request from the hospital, Project HOPE and Sextant collaborated to provide estimates of solar PV systems to the local Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). MoHS and its partners determined that installing a 4 KW system that only served the NICU would be suitable for now, and can be expanded in the future. Thanks to contributions from Project HOPE, Sextant, and UNICEF, the project was completed in January 2018. 

Volunteer Kait Mendenhall recounts her experience, “Today was our first full day at Bo Government Hospital and the Sextant Foundation team and our local crew covered a lot of ground on the solar for the new neonatal unit – investigating the existing system, mounting panels and raceways, setting up the batteries that will keep the babies’ oxygen running in an outage… tomorrow the solar panels start going on the roof!”

On Day 2 at the NICU, our volunteers got to meet a few of the little faces behind the project.

“We had another great day at the hospital today in Bo, though we didn’t get to start putting up the solar panels as planned due to a delay in getting some materials to the site. What we did get to do was get the rails that will hold the panels up on the roof and had our Sierra Leonean friends show us the way that they build a lighting arresting system for the panels buried underground (pretty cool!), but most importantly, we got to meet some of the beautiful little people that this project is all about!” 

The next day, the solar panels went up.

“The solar panels are on the roof and the outlets and lights are wired – all that’s missing is the inverter that, unfortunately, is delayed and won’t be delivered in country until early next week. I start my journey back home today, but our Sextant team member Jeff Rodriguez will be there to see the last pieces installed and the solar working for the NICU. It’s been a great week for us here in Sierra Leone and such a worthwhile project for Sextant Foundation. I left the hospital with so many smiles and thank-yous from the staff, and I am just so happy that we were able to do this project – I can’t think of anyone more deserving than those little babies.”

You can contribute to our efforts to continue supporting these newborns and families by donating here.

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