Thursday, June 25, 2015

Container Loading Time!

This past Tuesday (06/23/15),  my dad and I worked on packing a 40 foot shipping container that will soon be on it's way to Sierra Leone!  The items in this container are for both Jonathan's House Orphanage as well as for Luba Maternity Center.

I have been packing, repacking, taping, labeling and sorting boxes of donated items for a few months now in preparation to get this shipping container ready to go.  Now, as we load everything up this week, I am astounded at everything that we have been blessed with!  Some items were donated and other items bought with monetary donations for the clinic.

I can't even begin to name all the items or all the people that have generously given.....but here's a start!  I can't say THANK YOU enough to local churches, friends, family, strangers whom I have never actually met, local hospitals and clinics, my workplaces, the Rotary club and those whom have been long time faithful supporters.

Luba Maternity Center will soon be stocked with shelving systems, supply cabinets, birth carts, filing cabinets, big metal desk, office supplies, newborn clothes/supplies and all necessary birthing equipment and instruments (which believe me is a lot of stuff)!!!  I stand amazed at what has been provided and am excited to get things set up and moving forward!

This container will leave Iowa bound for Sierra Leone on July 14....just a week before my daughter and I head back home to SL!  It is expected to arrive in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone around September 1.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your generous and kind support!!  We are one step closer to making Luba Maternity Center more than just a dream :)

Container the day of loading!  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Past Two Years In A Nutshell :)

Wow, how time flies!  I just realized that I haven't updated this blog for over 2 years!  To say that a lot happened in that time is an understatement.  First of all, I apologize for not updating for the past two years.  I will give you a brief update and elaborate in more blog posts to come :)

Gbondapi, our first home in Sierra Leone! 
Jenna and I lived in the village of Gbondapi for 1 year.  We were "adopted" into a beautiful family and they gave us a mud house on their family compound to live in.  It taught us so much about Sierra Leone, the culture, language, pace of life, hardships and joy. We spent a lot of time just doing what our "adopted family" and neighbors over the fire, planting a garden, planting/harvesting rice, sitting around the campfire talking at night, washing clothes by hand, hauling water, swimming in the river, going on boat rides to the nearby river villages, having a pet monkey and dog.  We thoroughly enjoyed our year in the village, although I can't say it didn't come without hardships, illness and loneliness.  We had to work through a lot of bumps.  But we did it and succeeded.  I think a year being immersed helped us more than I will ever really know.

We spent the last few months working in the local clinic.  We worked in child health as well as maternal/infant health.  This experience gave us insight into the healthcare system and also the educational system for healthcare workers.  It's really important to understand and see the "inner workings" of a system before getting too involved or giving too much input.

Me and Amie, nurse in Gbondapi with a fresh newborn! 

Eating from 1 pot as we do often in Sierra Leone! 

Move to BoTown
We moved to BoTown on August 15, 2013 (Day my daughter was born....more on that next :)
I decided that because Jenna's year commitment in Sierra Leone was almost over and because BoTown has a lot more healthcare opportunities that it was wise to move.  I signed a lease on a rental property where I have been living since.

BoTown is the 2nd largest city in Sierra Leone.  It is centrally located and about 4 hours from the capital city Freetown.  It's the political capital of the nation.  From BoTown, it is relatively easy to travel any direction within Sierra Leone.  It has several nursing schools.  A lot of complicated healthcare cases get referred to BoTown.  For all of these reasons, I decided that BoTown is an ideal place to settle down and eventually start a maternity center.  There are not many options for quality maternal healthcare in BoTown although many people deliver their babies here, so this also makes it an ideal place to open a maternity center.

I really love BoTown and look forward to many more good years here!!!

Sierra Leone Market :) 

Annalise Jenna Boi Hatch 
We signed a lease for our rental property in BoTown on August 15, 2013.  Little did I know that I was about to become a mom!  I had planned to adopt a child from Sierra Leone since I was a teenager.  And in the past year, I was actively thinking about whether I was ready to adopt.  3 out of 5 of the kids in my family are adopted (2 from Sierra Leone), so adoption is something that is normal for me. God answered my prayers for younger siblings through adoption and for years I had been looking forward to God answering my prayers for children through adoption.

The day after we moved to BoTown, we spent the morning at the government hospital taking a friend to get some dental work.  The dentist was late and there were no patients in line waiting as usual.  So, we decided to walk around the hospital and "kill" some time.  Naturally as midwives, we ended up in the postpartum ward with all the new moms and babies.  We were about ready to leave when the Holy Spirit prompted us to walk back through the ward one more time.  At the 2nd to last bed, we saw a mom and baby that we didn't see the 1st time through.  The baby looked extremely tiny and the mother was obviously young.  After talking with her, we found out the baby was born 15 hours previously and had not sucked at all yet.  She was born 2 months early weighing 3.5 pounds. She couldn't suck and couldn't keep herself warm.  There are no incubators or NICUs in Sierra Leone unless you go to Freetown.  We left and brought back dry blankets, a breast pump and syringe a couple hours later.  When we arrived back at the hospital, we found out the hospital discharged them to go home!!!  The nurses and doctors had no hope that this tiny baby would survive.  We asked for the chart and found an address.  

Thank God, we were able to find them!!  Jenna and I did home visits twice daily for 5 days.  After 5 days, Annalise was in very poor condition and at risk for dying in a matter of days without around the clock care.  Annalise and her biological mom stayed at our home for 2 weeks.  Our home became a mini clinic (as it has become many times since :).  We fed Annalise pumped breast milk through a nasogastric tube, around the clock skin-to-skin care and close monitoring.  After 2 weeks, she could suck, maintain her own temperature, was gaining weight and the jaundice was almost gone.  She was finally "out of the woods"!!

But at the end of those 2 weeks, Annalise's mom decided she was unable to take care of a baby.  She was 16 years old and significantly affected from a past stroke.  So, at that time, Annalise was admitted to Jonathan's House Orphanage.  I asked the orphanage if I could keep Annalise until she was healthy.  They agreed.  And she never ended up going to the orphanage.  I fell in love and knew this little girl was my daughter!

I was able to keep Annalise throughout the whole adoption process.  She was officially adopted on June 11, 2014!!   I thank God daily for the blessing Annalise is.  I feel so crazy lucky to be her mom!!

3 days old.  

10 days old. 

7 months. 

Adoption Day - 10 months old

20 months. 

20 months.

Jonathan's House Orphanage Clinic
I started a clinic at a local orphanage (  This is the orphanage my dad started in 2003 and I have been a part of since 2004.  This is where I first fell in love with Sierra Leone.  I hold 2 clinic days per week and then am on call in case a child is sick.  We treat a lot of malaria, chest infections, skin infections, general health monitoring and routine medications.  I love that I get a special time with each kid individually when they are in the clinic!!

Jonathan's House Orphanage Clinic. 

Kindoya Hospital, BoTown
Since moving to BoTown, I have volunteered as a midwife about once/week at a local hospital in BoTown.  Partly to keep my skills up and partially to get into the "circle" of healthcare professionals in BoTown.  It has been awesome to grow as a midwife and learn more about the culture of local healthcare. I have also loved training local nursing students as I work as a midwife!!

Kindoya Hospital. 

Annalise and I have been in America since Sep 2014.  This is partially due to the Ebola outbreak and partially due to needing time to get Annalise's American citizen papers.  We are very excited to be heading back to Sierra Leone the end of this July!!!  Praise God, our friends and all the kids remained safe throughout the Ebola outbreak.

Luba Maternity Center
I am excited to get back to Sierra Leone to open the maternity center in BoTown.  I have a 10 year lease on a building right across the street from my house in BoTown and have it fully renovated to use as a maternity center!!!  All I need now is to drill a well, install a septic tank and get a government license to open a clinic.  I hope to have this open early 2016.

My vision is to provide quality healthcare to women and babies.  As well as have a unit for premature and malnourished infants.  My ultimate goal is to have enough patients that I can use this clinic as a training site for student nurses and midwives.  My heart and vision is to provide quality clinical training to local women.

Luba Maternity Clinic
"Luba means Blessings in the local language" 

More To Come
Between becoming a mom, volunteering as a midwife at Kindoya hospital in BoTown, starting a clinic at Jonathan's House Orphanage and balancing all that life throws at us, I had forgotten about this blog.  But my sincere desire is to start writing again as I know this helps people stay in touch.  If you have any questions or just want to introduce yourself, feel free to email me (

Sierra Leone Sunset. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


           We traveled 3 hours of difficult roads to Pujehun District on Wednesday, Sep 19.  It took 2 hours to go the last 16 miles!  On Thursday morning, we set out to find a village to be our new home.  Mamie Jinnah (our Sierra Leone midwife friend and mentor) went with us – she has contacts in the villages and had previously informed them that we were coming.
            We visited different villages but decided on a village called “Gbondapi”.  We had a meeting on the chief’s veranda with the village chief and elders.  Of course, we drew a large crowd….everyone was so curious about the pumoys (white people).  We spent about 20 minutes explaining our intentions and answering questions the chief and elders had for us.  After all of the questions were answered and they understood our intentions, the chief and elders welcomed us to stay and live in the village.  They seem excited to have us come and stay!
            Gbondapi is located at the end of a dirt road full of potholes.  Some potholes you literally have to drive into and then drive out of!  Jenna and I are learning a new type of driving : )  The road stops because there is a large river on the other side of the village.  You can take a boat on this river and be on the Atlantic Ocean in just a couple hours.  We are at the end of the rainy season, so the river is very flooded right now and even coming up and flooding part of the market.  Every Wednesday, there is a trade fair in Gbondapi.  This is a large trade fair with people coming from all over the country to buy and sell.  They say the village size doubles on that day from 1,000 to 2,000 people!

            Most people in the village speak Mende (tribal language we are learning), but a few people also speak English or Krio (like Creole).  We were very surprised to find a health centre in Gbondapi!  There are 2 midwives, 2 nurses and a Community Health Officer working there.  They do general healthcare but focus on maternal/infant care.  They say there are about 20 babies delivered every month.  People from many surrounding villages come for deliveries, especially if there are complications.  We are excited to partner with this clinic.  One of the nurses working there is actually my friend – I was shocked to find out that she was working there!  : )
            The chief arranged for us to live with a family in Gbondapi for the first 3 months.  The father’s name is Paul – he was the one to give us the tour of Gbondapi.  He has a wife and children and a boat!  They live just several feet from the river.  I will let you know more about the family as I get to know them. The first year is primarily language learning and culture learning.  Jenna and I are excited to live with a family and to learn how to live like they do in the village.  We will not only be spending time learning the language with our language helper but also working in the farms, fishing, cooking, going to the market, playing the local games/sports, and all else that is part of life in Gbondapi.  We move this Wednesday, October 3.

             Jenna and I bought a puppy.  We saw her in a nearby village when we went to drop off our friend.  We had planned to get a dog at some point….this one just came along sooner than we expected!  We inquired about her and bought her for $2.25 : ) Her name is Jayla KonԐ.  KonԐ means “happy” in Mende.  It is pronounced “Konay”.  It is a girl. She will move to the village with us.  Pray that she will be encouraging and fun for us as well as for the kids in our host family! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thankyou to everyone for your thoughts and prayers :)  

I just thought I would send out a small note to tell you about my first African birthday here!

It started with the birth of a baby boy at 6:01am!  We were at the hospital all night waiting for him to be born as he is the son of one of the carpenters at the orphanage!  I didn't think we would be a part of a birth so soon!  The baby was born at a Doctor's Without Borders Hospital.  It was cool to see their set-up.  The nurses even gave us a tour of the clinic.  It is quite overwhelming to think about practicing as midwives here, but thankfully we have this beginning time to learn culture and language.  I am very glad for that!

After the birth we went outside the hospital to eat some potato leaves and rice for breakfast.  All of a sudden, two huge tubs of rotting deer flesh were placed right in front of us!  Maybe they wanted to sell us some, but the smell almost made our bellies loose their breakfast!  It was pretty funny :)  Apparently they hadn't smoked the meat good enough.  The deer here are very small, maybe the size of  a raccoon.  All meat that is wild is called "bush meat".    

 In the evening, Kayla and I walked around to each of the 5 homes where the Jonathan's House children live and passed out some celebratory birthday candies.  At each home the children sang me birthday songs.  They were pretty sweet.  Then we enjoyed some delicious brownies that Christie (the JCC director) made for us.  

What a great first African birthday :)  

Tomorrow we hit the dirt and potholes road to go to Pujehun to look for a village!  It seems crazy that we are planning to just drive around a check out villages to live in, but that is exactly what we plan to do!  Thankfully Mammy Jinnah has a few options for us to look at!  

Today we did our first official language lesson using the material that Kayla studied during her language aquisition course while still in the States.  It was a good feeling to have a direction to go in language instead of just learning random words and phrases.  I am excited for more of that.  

I would love continued prayers for safety as we travel tomorrow, and that the Holy Spirit would show us clearly the village that we are to live in!  Every day I feel a little more settled here, even though I still feel some ups and downs :)  But that is normal!  The people are so friendly and willing to teach us.  I am thankful also to be with such a great teammate (Kayla).

Till next time,


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Salutations from Sierra Leone!

Hi Everybody!

We have made it safe and sound to Bo, Sierra Leone!  We are so happy to be here, and enjoyed a warm welcome from all the staff and kids here at Jonathan's House (the orphanage).  Our trip here went very well; we had no problems at all and even made it with all of our luggage!  What a bonus!

We have started learning the Mende language.  Everyone is very enthusiastic to teach us.  It is fun for Jenna to try all the new food, and Kayla is enjoying eating it again.  As we are sitting here writing this at the internet cafe, Jenna is eating a "meat pie" for the first time.  She likes it :) 

On monday we are planning to drive to Pujehun villages to start looking for a host family and a village to live in for the next few months.  We will let you know what we discover next week.  Thankfully our local midwife friend, Mammy Jinnah, is connecting us with the villages and the people there. 

Thanks for your prayers and support. 

We will try to update you all sometime soon if we can!

Jenna and Kayla

Saturday, September 8, 2012

12 Hour Count Down!!

It is only 12 hours before we leave Marshalltown, Iowa and start our journey to Sierra Leone!  There is excitement, enthusiasm, sadness, and anticipation in the air.  We have completed our packing and planning, emails and thank-you notes, taping boxes and washing laundry….we are ready to go.  We just finished our last American dinner full of yummy pizza and coke with our families.  It has been so nice to have our two families together here in Iowa for the last few days before we leave. 

Our families and us spent some time packing the shipping container for the orphanage in Sierra Leone.  It was fun to all work together; see the attached photos.  Among the piles of clothes and shoes that we have packed, there are also boxes of medical supplies, pallets of floor tiles, bicycles, basketball hoops, baby clothes, school supplies and much much more!  Thank-you so much to those of you who spent time, energy and resources to donate items for Sierra Leone. 

We will be stepping onto African soil at about 7:30pm (Sierra Leone time) this coming Monday!  We will update you as soon as we settle in. 

Thank-you SO much for all your love, support, encouragement and prayers J

Love Jenna and Kayla

Sierra Leone, Here We Come!

The emotions are mixed and many! Some days, we are so excited and it’s hard to wait another day. Other days, we miss our family terribly just thinking about it. Some days, we are nervous about learning a new language and then the next day we will be so excited to jump into the culture and language. Sometimes, it all seems so surreal and other times so normal.

Flight Schedule

  • Sunday, September 9 @ 1:38pm - Leave DesMoines, IA to Chicago
  • Chicago to Brussels, Belgium
  • Brussels to Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Monday, September 10 @ 7:20pm (1:20pm Iowa time) - ARRIVE IN SIERRA LEONE

Initial Steps
When we first arrive, we will find a host family and language helper. We will apply for our residency card, work permit, SL driver’s license, SL Nurse License and SL Midwife license. Please pray with us as we fill out paperwork and attend meetings to become legal to live and work in Sierra Leone.

Language and Culture
In July, Kayla attended a program of language acquisition in Colorado ( She learned how children learn languages and how to expand our American “box” of hearing and pronunciation. Children are not burdened with the conjugation of vowels, etc. They learn comprehension and context through repetition and kinesthetic learning, then later the conjugation. The training gave us activities and tools to effectively learn a language. We are excited to implement the learning tools taught to us and start learning Mende!
The first year will be primarily learning the Mende language and culture. We will language learn full time. We strongly believe in learning the heart language of the people in order to have greater long term effectiveness. We trust that the year of full time language learning will be helpful in building relationships and trust. Please pray for us to have patience, diligence and grace as we work hard to learn the Mende language and culture.

Village Life
We are hoping to initially live in a small village outside of Pujehun. Please pray that provision will be made for moving to the village and that we will find a host home there. Living in the village, we will be away from the hospital. Consequently, we will have the freedom to learn language and build relationships full time without the pressure of being full-time midwives.

Host Family
One of the first things we will do is find a family to live with. We hope to find this family as soon as possible and immediately immerse ourselves in the culture. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would be preparing that family and their home. Please pray also that we would be led to this family.

We will keep you updated as much as possible about life in Sierra Leone. We won’t have internet access in the village, so we will come into town periodically to write home to friends and family through newsletters and blog updates.  It has been advised to us that we have minimal contact with home for the first 6 weeks in Sierra Leone. This will help us bond better and quicker with our host family and local community. So please forgive us if we don’t respond to email or facebook comments. We will be writing short blog posts within those weeks to keep you updated. Know that you are still in our thoughts and prayers. We appreciate your support so much!

Love Kayla and Jenna