Giulia Bellone is 25 years old, she comes from Busca, in the province of Cuneo in Italy, and has just returned from Pujehun, a small village in the south of Sierra Leone, where she did Universal Civil Service as a pediatric nurse. In her story, the unforgettable experience she had with mothers and children in the pediatric section of the emergency ward, in the malnutrition unit and in the neonatal intensive care section.
Thanks to a previous volunteer experience in Senegal, Giulia was studying at university with the goal of returning to Africa; so when a job opportunity arose at Regina Margherita hospital in Turin, she had no doubts, “Thanks, but I’m leaving with Cuamm!”.
«I arrived in Sierra Leone on July 7, 2021, where I spent 10 days in Freetown to dive into the reality of the country. Then, I moved to the village of Pujehun. And from there the adventure began! The coordination role of the project manager Adrien, a gynecological physician-surgeon, was fundamental: he was an important point of reference; as well as Alessandra, a pediatric surgeon, an experienced and determined specialist, who taught me a lot: she made me aware of the complex reality around me».
A profession of passion
«I had the most intense experience of my life. Finally, I found that happiness that allowed me to appreciate myself, and consequently the capacity to work better. I call it passion. I built friendly relationships inside the hospital, in the compound and outside, so also in the community, and I found a home, a family. I felt accepted despite being white in the Mende tribe, thus representing a minority.
In the work field, CUAMM really works with Africa. For a time, inside the hospital, there were only three of us from CUAMM staff: me, Adrien and Alessandra. Three in the whole hospital. If this is not being with Africa, then what is? I left Italy with the idea of growing professionally and humanely in totally different place, learning from those who would take me in, being able to contribute as much as possible. There I realized that we don’t save life, we support it. When we succeed, we are very happy!».
The condition of children
«In Africa, the condition of children is still difficult. A slight change of mindset is now starting so as to be able to guarantee better awareness and care of newborn and children. Women can have up to 19 deliveries. Raising many children while earning less than one euro a day is a feat. Therefore the mortality rate remains high, diseases are easily caught, those living in the villages do not always have clean water, they do not cover themselves, they do not eat. I felt that in Africa a child is seen as a future help to the family. However, it is difficult to carry on the well-being of the little ones. I used to look after children up to the age of five, but the mortality rate in the first twenty-four hours after birth is very high. Often, mothers try to treat them at home with traditional herbs, then since they have no money to pay for transport, when they find an ambulance that stops, they get in, but it is too late».
The engagement in Italy
«In Busca, my home village in Italy, together with my fellow citizens I organised a fundraising event for the Pujehun hospital that was very well attended. I am proud of my village for the way it decided to commit itself. With the donations, we sent equipment to Pujehun, even before I finished my civil service. This is a great satisfaction for me. So I can witness that donating really does good! I already have some plans for the future. Stay tuned!».