ATLANTA/FREETOWN -- Acting upon critical communications received from Connaught Hospital’s Care Manager, Dr. Desmond Olu-Black, through Sierra Leone’s Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Hope of Africa will be directing a swift fundraising effort, starting with a formal black tie dinner dance to be held Saturday, October 11th, 2008, 7:00pm to 1:00am at The Westin Atlanta Airport (College Park 30349).

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, the Honorable Captain Benjamin Davies will be flying in to Atlanta from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to deliver the fundraising event’s keynote address.

Hope of Africa, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and registered as an NGO in Freetown, Sierra Leone, is taking the lead in organizing communications and funds to directly impact Sierra Leone’s health care system, particularly care to mothers and infants at Sierra Leone’s oldest operating hospital, Connaught Hospital, built in 1912 by the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur. It was recently re-opened in 2006, alongside the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH).

With a public commitment to raise $30,000 for these efforts, Hope of Africa’s Executive Director Abigal Thomas states her conviction: “We take Dr. Olu-Black’s official communication regarding the critical need for hospital equipment and consumable medical supplies as Hope of Africa’s duty, and we intend to fulfill on that duty. Bringing in the new year of 2009 with a shipment to Connaught Hospital by mid-January -- that is our commitment.”

In an official letter dated September 7th, 2008, Dr. Olu-Black details a critical need for such basic equipment as operating tables and lights, pulse oximeters, and suction machines. On the supply side, the well-respected Connaught Hospital Care Manager lists such basics as surgical gauze, antiseptics, sutures, and bandages.

“The situation in Sierra Leone’s major hospitals is troubling,” confirms Heather Cole-Lewis, a young American-Sierra Leonean public health doctoral candidate and recent graduate of Emory University currently studying at Yale University. Not unlike other young men and women of Sierra Leonean descent living in the United States, she recently completed an internship in Freetown’s hospitals this year, as her way of giving her talent and services to Sierra Leone during this time of urgent efforts to upgrade the living conditions in the country. “There was no running water in the hospital -- and at times no electricity. Basic supplies such as gloves and disinfectants were scarce and not easy to come by,”she adds.

These and other conditions have taken their toll statistically, with Sierra Leone having the highest maternity mortality rate and the second highest infant mortality rate in the world. In the most recent annual report (1996) by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, severe poverty and a lack of established means to collect vital data for accurately assessing the magnitude of Sierra Leone’s healthcare problems, are given as the key factors impacting the Sierra Leone government’s ability to provide immediate solutions to a situation recognized by all needing priority attention by the nation’s newly elected President Ernest Bai Koroma and parliamentary members.

Hope of Africa is pledging to allocate all of its proceeds from this October 11th dinner dance fund-raiser, as well as donations gathered from their international communications outreach, to secure requested equipment and supplies. Their operational objective is to load and ship those goods across the Atlantic Ocean to Freetown and offload/deliver this cargo directly into the hands of Connaught Hospital authorities. This will fulfill on Hope of Africa’s first mission to Sierra Leone’s hospitals, a promise first publicly announced at their successful fashion show fundraiser held this summer at the Georgia World Congress Center.

For more information about Hope of Africa, as well as purchasing fund-raiser dinner dance tickets or sending in donations, contact: Ms. Abigal Thomas, Executive Director, Hope of Africa,(770) 719-8454.