February 8, 2018

EMM workers re-establish X-ray department in rural Sierra Leone hospital

Written by  Emily Jones
An X-ray technician (right) trains Mattru UBC hospital staff to use the hospital’s new X-ray machine. EMM worker Jonathan Yoder (left), a physician at the hospital who helped lead the effort to establish a new X-ray department, observes as a young patient receives a chest X-ray. Photos provided by Jonathan and Heleen Yoder. An X-ray technician (right) trains Mattru UBC hospital staff to use the hospital’s new X-ray machine. EMM worker Jonathan Yoder (left), a physician at the hospital who helped lead the effort to establish a new X-ray department, observes as a young patient receives a chest X-ray. Photos provided by Jonathan and Heleen Yoder.

MATTRU JONG, Sierra Leone — After going without regular X-ray technology for over 20 years, staff at a rural Sierra Leone hospital celebrated the opening of a new X-ray department on January 24, 2018.

“We have already diagnosed a couple of significant injuries and illnesses that would not have been possible to accurately diagnose before,” said Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) worker Jonathan Yoder.

Jonathan and his wife, Heleen Yoder, both serve at Mattru United Brethren in Christ (UBC) Hospital and have been working to establish the X-ray department for nearly a year. The Yoders also serve with UB Global, a UBC mission agency.

The Yoders set a fundraising goal of $26,000 to purchase and transport the X-ray machine and a used ultrasound machine, renovate the hospital’s X-ray room, purchase a computer to read digital X-rays, and train staff.

With the help of supporters in the Netherlands (Heleen’s native country) and the U.S., as well as a grant from Wilde Ganzen (Wild Geese), a Dutch charitable foundation, the money was raised in just three months.

Mattru UBC Hospital, founded nearly 70 years ago by UBC missionaries, lost its original X-ray machine to rebel forces in Sierra Leone’s 1991–2002 civil war. Sixteen years after the war, the hospital is still struggling to return to its former condition after being captured and damaged during the conflict.

The Yoders began their mission work at Mattru United Brethren in Christ (UBC) Hospital in March 2017. Heleen serves the hospital in the role of child counselor, and she recently led the opening of the hospital’s psychosocial unit for child survivors of gender-based violence. Jonathan is serving as one of two physicians on the hospital staff.

They describe the region as extremely medically underserved. Mattru UBC Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Sierra Leone’s Bonthe District, which has over 200,000 people. Upon the Yoders’ arrival in Mattru Jong, obtaining an X-ray machine became an early priority for them.

“A real miracle it all came together in such a short time! It truly is a blessing to have this equipment, and the people of Mattru Jong are grateful,” said Jonathan Yoder.