Catholic Medical Project Helping Sick Children in Sierra Leone Feted in London

Logo Sick Pikin Project, a Catholic medical initiative in Sierra Leone. Credit: Sick Pikin Project

The Sick Pikin Project, a Catholic medical initiative in Sierra Leone that means “the Sick Babies Donation Project”, has been named the best medical charity for funding children’s surgeries in the West African country.

In a Wednesday, September 28 interview with ACI Africa, the co-founder of the Freetown-based initiative, Ishmeal Alfred Charles, said that UK-based volunteers of the project had picked the award at the September 24 ceremony on behalf of the foundation.

Mr. Ishmeal said that his team at the Sick Pikin Project were excited at being feted, and expressed optimism that the award would open up opportunities for funding of the project.

“We are very excited and happy that our project is being recognized internationally because it doesn’t only throw light on the work we are doing but also adds value to the work. It makes our work recognizable,” Mr. Ishmeal said.

He added, “For us, every time we are recognized is a possibility for us to have more opportunity because the kind of work we do significantly requires public attention. We get more strength whenever we have an opportunity for public attention that will metamorphose into action-driven donation.”


“We are always looking for opportunities that are out there, get people to know about the work we do and once they know the work we do, they are touched and are more likely to act,” Ishmeal said. 

The Afro Arts Production is a registered UK-based community initiative that seeks to recognize the efforts of outstanding Sierra Leoneans. 

This is not the first time that the Sick Pikin Project is being recognized internationally. For his work at the charity foundation, Ishmeal was nominated for the 2022 African Genius Awards, a platform that has recognized the likes of Aliko Dangote, Steve Biko, and Chinua Achebe

The former child soldier who worked on several other charity and development projects started the Sick Pikin Project in 2018 to help children from needy families secure costly surgeries abroad.

In an interview with ACI Africa earlier this year, Ishmeal who works as the Caritas Freetown Programs Manager said that the project started as a one-off activity with the sole aim to raise funds for baby Mustapha who was suffering from complications that were related to biliary atresia and he needed an expensive liver transplant in India.

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He said in the January 14 interview in reference to Mustapha, “His mother approached us and we thought that the only way to help her was by rallying for funds and that’s what we did. It took us a very long time but we finally succeeded and baby Mustapha received a liver transplant in India with the mother being the donor.”

It took Caritas Freetown five months to raise about US$10,000.00 before the country’s First Lady, Fatima Maada Bio, came in, did a short video clip to support the funds drive and attracted more donors who topped up the amount that was required for the medical procedure, Mr. Ishmeal recalled.

After the first successful surgery, which attracted nationwide attention, many other sick babies were brought for help.

Ishmeal then spoke to Fr. Peter Konteh, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, and the two set up an organization “to standardize things and change from individual cases to collective organizational format.” 

This marked the birth of the Sick Pikin Project where volunteers raise funds through begging on the streets of Sierra Leone, among other means to get donations.


The Caritas Freetown official told ACI Africa during the January 14 interview that the Sick Pikin Project fulfills a dream he harbored as a child, especially after his experience as a child soldier.

“I always wanted to be a doctor. But I didn’t become one. Somewhere at the height of the activities of the Sick Pikin Project, I realized that I was bringing some form of healing to the children from poor families. I realized that I didn’t have to become a doctor to participate in God’s divine healing,” he said.

In the September 28 interview with ACI Africa, Mr. Ishmeal appealed to well-wishers to continue contributing to save more lives of sick needy children.

“We are delighted that our footprints are seen by everyone in our global village. As we continue to serve, we thank the organizers of the award for this recognition and ask that we all please join hands together to help us save more lives by donating today to a good course,” he said.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.