Wellbody Heroes 7: Kumba Jimissa - Cleaner

July 30 2015

Wellbody Hero of the Week:

Kumba Jimissa - Cleaner


Seijiro Takahashi - July 22, 2015


Introducing Kumba:

Kumba is a 31 year old single mother of three children who was hired as Wellbody's cleaner during the summer of 2014.


Kumba Jimissa - Wellbody Cleaner


Why her work is heroic:

As a Wellbody cleaner, Kumba creates a comfortable and safe environment where workers and patients provide and receive life-saving medical treatment. During the Ebola outbreak, Kumba has donned personal protective equipment and continued to sanitize the clinic and assist with other tasks including guiding patients to where they need to go. Kumba's coworkers commend her and the other Wellbody cleaners for maintaining an immaculate workplace and for avoiding contraction of Ebola - a result of mindfulness, which influences the entire team's wellbeing. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kumba via Skype, with the help of Edna Bondu Bona (Wellbody's Partnerships Liaison) who interpreted Kumba's responses from Krio into English. Here's what she said!


Please tell me a bit about your background.

My name is Kumba Jimissa and I am from Kailahun District. I am 31 years old, with three pikin (children)two boys and one girl, ages 14, 4, and 9 years.


How or why did you become involved with Wellbody Alliance?

I applied for a job at Wellbody to take care of my three children, because my husband died of AIDS. I started working at Wellbody on May 11, 2014.

I never went to school. I used to work as a petty trader, a hawker, selling small small things, carrying them on my head.

I sold these items in the neighborhood, and from the little profits that I got, I was able to feed my children. My husband was sick at the time.


Please tell me about your experiences as a Wellbody cleaner.

What have been your biggest challenges? What were the biggest learning experiences?

Work is fine. I've been trained to mix chlorine solution, used to sanitize the clinic. Sometimes I sweep, and sometimes I mop. I sweep various rooms in the clinic, and I sweep the compound. I wear a uniform, and wash and scrub the rooms. I clean the bed linens in the delivery center and in its operation rooms. I do laundry at the clinic, and I also direct patients to different departments within the clinic.

I'm thankful because I've never contracted the Ebola disease. During the outbreak, I worked around the sick, wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) while cleaning the facilities and helping the patients. I wore three layers of gloves on my hands and wore PPE, and helped guide patients to the examination room.

If not for God, maybe I would've contracted the disease – so that was a very big challenge for me. That has been the biggest challenge so far – working in the midst of the Ebola outbreak.

I now know that I should come to the hospital for whatever sickness I may have, that I should not be treated at home. I tell others that they should go to the hospital to seek medical attention, instead of treating their problems at home.

I've also learned how to use a laminating machine to keep patients' cards secure.


Please describe to me a day in the life of Kumba. What do you do on a typical work day, from start to finish?

I wake up at 6:30 AM, wash, dress, and rush to the clinic to get there before 7 AM. I'm one of the first people to arrive at the clinic, because I have to clean the clinic before the others arrive.

Sometimes I walk two miles to rush to the clinic.

I start by sweeping the compound, I help pack chairs in different departments, and make sure that the bedsheets are ready for patients. I prepare the bedsheets in the waiting room and in the offices. Some offices have bedsheets, like in the ANC (antenatal clinic), where pregnant women sit. I wipe the surfaces of tables and chairs. Afterwards, I help direct patients to different departments.

At lunchtime, I eat one plate of rice with stew or potato or cassava leaves.

In the afternoon, I go back to work, and help with directing patients.

After the patients go, I start cleaning again. I leave work to go home at 5:30 to 6 PM.


06:30:00 AM

Wake up, wash, and dress

By 07:00:00 AM

Arrive at Wellbody Clinic

07:00:00 AM – 12:00:00 PM

Sweep compound, pack chairs, prepare bedsheets, wipe surfaces, clean using chlorine solution, direct patients to various departments

12:00:00 PM


01:00:00 PM

Resume work – directing patients and cleaning

05:30:00 ~ 06:00:00 PM

Leave to go home


What is the most rewarding part of your work?

I benefit very much from my job at Wellbody. At the end of the month, I receive a salary, and my children are able to eat. I feel happy that they won't go astray, even without my husband around. People at the clinic are happy, the place is clean, and the doctors, nurses, patients, and others are working and staying in a clean environment.


Kumba Jimissa - Wellbody Cleaner


What motivates you to do your work?

I get strength from, and am happy to know that, when I work, I'll get something at the end of the month. So I'm always ready to come to work. If I am sitting, idling at home, I wouldn't benefit from anything.


What do you notice that's different from a few weeks or months ago in Kono?

Around the clinic, there's been development under the construction team.

Patients are transported by the ambulance that we didn't have before, and can receive blood transfusions at KGH (Koidu Government Hospital). There are new buildings, a new triage area, a new waiting area, and a new Delivery Center.

Wellbody does not operate alone now – we are working very closely with PIH (Partners In Health).


Surely, when you finish one challenge, you are able to see a better view of the next challenge. In your opinion, what does Kono need most right now? What personal advice do you have for those who want to help individuals in Kono District?

Although Kono is the largest source of money for Sierra Leone with its diamonds and gold, the Kono people do not enjoy the wealth. Foreigners come to mine the diamonds, and take the money away.

Many widows suffer without husbands. Not all of the husbands died from the war – many are victims of TB (tuberculosis), HIV, and hernias.

Schools need help. There are problems with work here. We need to help widows and we need to provide schools for children. We need to provide clothes, provide a clinic. We need to help with education by building schools for Kono youth.


What is your favorite thing about Kono?

If children are able to go to school, they can learn, and the women can get money. Nothing is alright here – even the houses are falling apart, and people have trouble with finding a place to sleep. When I go around, I see people sleeping in broken houses, because the houses have not been rehabilitated from when they were destroyed during the war. I'm not happy about that.

Wellbody has helped Kono a lot medically. I'm happy for the presence of Wellbody in Kono. Wellbody helped a lot with health issues. Before, KGH was not well-equipped and we couldn't help that much.

Wellbody is my favorite thing in Kono.


What do you enjoy doing for fun?

Every evening, I visit church to sing in the choir. I like singing, praising God, and dancing there.

I also give out jokes to people, to friends, and make them laugh.

I will sing for you (in Krio): “Today is the day of joy...”

I sang this song because I am happy to speak with you.

Here is a joke: Why does the pregnant woman always look this way, moving her brows like this?


Edna and Kumba move their heads side to side, raising their eyebrows.

(Everyone laughs)


So what's the answer?

The answer is for you to laugh.




What are your passions? What do you really care about?

I hope my children will be educated, and then will take care of me. I feel sad that children are left behind. I want them to be educated, so that in the future they can go back to help their parents.

My children are all in primary school. It's sad to see people going without school, and without the basic needs in life.


What are three of your favorites?

I like the company of my friends.

I enjoy being in the company of my three children.

I don't care much about other things – what I care about most is to have food for myself and my children.


Do you have any photos that you'd like to share with the readers?

These are photos of me and my coworker Esther cleaning the ANC (antenatal clinic). We feel rewarded when we clean and have patients and other workers sit in a healthy environment.


Who is your own hero or heroes? How come you admire this person?

Mr. Ahmidu Barrie – who used to be the Country Director for Wellbody, and is now the Core Operations Manager. Although I'm a cleaner, he makes no difference with me. Amidu, even though I am a cleaner, will come close to me, and talk to me and encourage me to do a good job.

Clinic Manager Mr. Sahr James is also someone that I admire. He calls to me, “sharp, sharp.” It's a slogan between the two of us, just a joke between the two of us. He encourages me, and I feel good in his company.


What are your plans for the future? What are your goals? What do you most look forward to?

I want to build a house of my own where I can stay happily. I don't want to continue as a tenant. It doesn't have to be a very big house.


Anything else?

I plan to have a well-furnished house where I can live comfortably.


What do you see as your own role as a Wellbody Cleaner?

My own role is to create a clean environment where patients will do fine.

I want Wellbody to move from being a clinic to being a hospital.


Then you'll have to do more cleaning.

(Laughs) Yes, Yes – I'm ready for that.


A final message for the readers of this blog.

I'm expecting our readers to be passionate.

I expect them to respond to the many problems that we're encountering here in Kono and in Sierra Leone as a whole.

That's all I can tell you, that's all that I have for you.


Thank you for your time today, Kumba!