Name: Lela Precious Dolo
Age: 23 years old
Occupation: Student Medical Doctor/ Co-Founder “Help a Mother and Newborn in Liberia,”
Joseph Doe: Tell me more about your background.
Leila Dolo: I started my education sojourn in Bong county where I grew up living with my grandma, a selfless woman who didn’t mind working countless hours to care for her children and the people living with her. Even though she was struggling with Diabetes and hypertension, it didn’t stop her from pushing for us to live a better life and become successful. I always felt loved and cared for throughout my childhood. I later moved to Montserrado where I completed high school at St. Mary Catholic School and my undergraduate studies.
Joseph: What led you to your career?
Leila: You may not be able to have another baby after this child due to the many complications,” the doctors told my mom when I was born on February 26, 1999, at the Phebe Hospital in a small city in Bong County, Liberia. I didn’t reach full term, and my mom almost died. After my birth, the doctor admitted us for about three months.
Growing up, what I desired to become was a cup a full. I thought about becoming a doctor. I was in love with the sciences and the white coats. Also, an engineer because my grades in math were great, and a Lawyer because it has a lot of money. Amidst all of that, becoming a doctor was always the first option, even though my only reasons at that time were: I will look nice with my white coat and my rope (Stectoscope).
As I got older, life challenged me to see beyond the desires for who I wanted to be and understood why I should follow a specific career path. I was a smart girl. I could see and understand almost everything around me at a tender age. I saw how the country had hundreds of ill systems ranging from different societal problems: security issues, unemployment, health, infrastructures, judicial, social issues, etc. I saw hungry and helpless people every day. I saw jobless young people all around. I saw sick people dying from curable diseases. I saw how most hospitals lacked lifesaving drugs and many other problems. I asked myself: “How can I help? Where am I needed the most?” I was still dangling until after the Ebola crisis when many people died, including most of our few competent doctors. The country needed more people to venture into this noble profession than ever before. We needed to be ready for future outbreaks.
After watching how selfless doctors made many sacrifices that included giving their lives to eradicating the Ebola Virus, I realized that being a doctor was not just about wearing nice white coats but being willing to make numerous sacrifices. It’s a service to the entire humanity. “A sick man cannot build a country, and neither can a dying lawyer plead cases. I chose the path of medicine to make a huge impact. To fix the system and ensure that mothers giving birth will not feel life threatened or walk away knowing that they would not have another child again like my mom. There were sufficient reasons to follow this path with no doubts anymore.
Joseph: How did you come up with the idea for your work?
Leila: Pregnancy or giving birth should never be a death sentence for any woman or newborn, but in Liberia, it is. Every day, thousands of Liberian women and their babies are exposed to the risk of dying from preventable pregnancy and delivery-related complications. Being a country with a fragile health system due to the long years of civil conflict and the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease, we lack adequately trained health workers, medical equipment, drugs, essential medical supplies, etc.
With the drive to fix this void, this project, “Help a Mother and Newborn in Liberia,” tailored towards addressing some of the many challenges faced in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Liberia was developed.
Joseph: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Leila: I’m most proud of the fact that I can maintain my position as part of the top five students in my school (studying medicine at Doglioti) while managing a very challenging project. I couldn’t even believe I could do that but here am I, achieving it all together.
Joseph: Where are you seeing yourself in ten years??
Leila: Ten years from now, I see myself doing more of what I love doing (helping people and saving lives) as one of Africa’s best doctors and public health specialists.
Written by joseph Doe, student, AMEU-African Methodist Episcopal University