The Goodalls Ahoy 09: Madagascar to Sierra Leone... Sept '20
As Noah said to a new friend this week, “We have been on many adventures!” Never a truer word! Let us fill you in on what’s been going on, and where we are now!
We moved to Madagascar in January 2020 to work with Freedom from Fistula. Liz commenced training in Obstetric Fistula surgery, while Barney took on the role as the Non-Clinical Director. The boys both started at their schools. We had made friends with a wonderful missionary family, and were starting to meet for Bible study and food (and birthday celebrations!)
Three months into our time there, we were scheduled to return to the UK for a month’s stay at my parents for my sister’s wedding. This was around the time Covid-19 was starting to take off around the globe, and upon our return we found ourselves locked down in the UK, and locked out of Madagascar.
Some snaps of our time in Madagascar:
In the UK, Liz returned to work temporarily as an Obstetrics and Gynaecology registrar in the NHS. And all the while we were hoping and praying Madagascar would open its borders and we would be able to return to the work and home we were loving settling into so much.
Fast forward to month 5 of staying with my parents (!), we hit a critical cross roads between Liz’s NHS training programme and our plans with Freedom from Fistula. With Madagascar still locked down, it looked like Liz's sabbatical to train in Fistula surgery might have to come to an end. We were extremely saddened by this, as we had just secured an extension so we could stay in the unit for 18 months. It wasn’t supposed to end like this! But one thing we have learned and seen from experience, especially over these last 3 years, is how God can salvage a situation and redeem something seemingly lost or hopeless. And that’s what God did this time for our family. We received a phone call from the founder of Freedom from Fistula: there were fistula patients waiting to be operated on in Sierra Leone, and the borders had opened a week before… so would we consider relocating to Freetown to continue our work there?
So, on 13th September we boarded a flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone!
After arrival in Lungi airport, and a rough sea crossing we moved into our apartment and have started with the Aberdeen Women’s Centre!
It is a busy unit, with a maternity ward, sexual gender-based violence unit and is the only fistula hospital in the country. Liz will be supporting staff in all of these areas, as well as resuming training in fistula surgery. Barney will continue to manage the Madagascar unit, making plans for fistula surgery to restart in the near future. He will also be supporting the team at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre with various projects.
So that brings you up to speed! It’s been a challenging year for us all world-wide, we hope and pray you have stayed well, and despite the struggles, have seen many blessings too.
If you pray, we would be really grateful for your prayers as we settle the children into school, and for us as we find our feet in Freetown and at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre. Please remember Madagascar in your prayers, for the patients there still waiting and hoping for surgery, and for the staff at the unit.
If you are looking for a cause to support financially and in prayer during these times, please may we urge you to consider the plight of these women? Covid 19 will have undoubtedly worsened the landscape for women and their babies. Access to healthcare may be nearly impossible, for fears of the virus, loss of staff and personnel, or financial impact precluding access to healthcare. Even prior to Covid 19, many families live on the edge of survival, whereby a hospital stay might bankrupt the family. Obstetric Fistula will continue to be around for many more years to come, but by helping one person at a time, we can reverse this terrible scourge.
If you would like to sponsor our family while we do this work, we plan to be here in Sierra Leone for 10 months until we return to the UK to complete my training programme in the NHS. Your financial help would be gratefully received. Please click on the 'Support' page of our blog and follow the prompts.
Thank you for being part of this journey with us, and for all the support – emotionally, practically and financially you have given to our family over the last few years. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Some snaps of Sierra Leone so far:
Thanks again for all your support and prayers.
Lots of Love,
Barney, Liz, Noah and Judah