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Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 16:02 UK

Diary: Sierra Leone slum clinic

Abdul Sessey

Staff at a clinic in the coastal slum of Kroo Bay, in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, are keeping a diary of their working lives for the BBC News website.

Here, Abdul Sessey, the clinic caretaker and porter, talks about his role.

I am Abdul. I clean the clinic, get water, watch the clinic and collect anything they send me to get. I am a volunteer.

After a woman gives birth there is a lot of blood, if we clean with water it doesn't clean properly and stains can stay

At the end of the month, the clinic manager gives me some money for me and my family. It is not much money, but it is difficult to find a job.

I also help around the community and people may give me money.

In the morning when I come to the clinic I clean it, I have a brush and old cloth. If I have soap, I use it.

Sometimes they give me soap in the clinic, sometimes I buy some, but a lot of the time we have to clean with just water.

It's important to clean with soap because after a woman gives birth there is a lot of blood.

If we clean with water it doesn't clean properly and stains can stay.

Also, people vomit on the floor.

Last week a woman came to give birth and the baby died in the belly.

After she delivered, the floor was full of blood - there was blood everywhere. I had to run in and clean before the next woman came to give birth.

I will rush to the cemetery and ask the caretaker for just a small space. We don't have a fridge or anything like that to keep a body

For me, it is important the clinic is clean because otherwise people will blame me.

It is bad when we clean without soap because a lot of sick people come here.

If I don't clean the vomit and the blood, they could inhale it and become more sick.

Collecting water

Today I didn't have soap, so I just used water to clean.

After I clean I fetch water and then I wait to run and get anything that is needed.

Last week we had a lot of births during the night, I think it was three or four.

They will arrive at my house and wake me up and I go with them to wake Bintu, the clinic's nurse.

View of Kroo Bay

Then I wait in the clinic. In case they need anything, drugs or soap, Bintu will send me to buy it. I lie down on the bench and sleep till they call me.

When the baby is born I go to collect water. A new mother needs lots of water for herself and the baby.

What makes me sad is that they can't stay in the clinic. There is no space, so they have to go home quickly.

All the deliveries last week went fine.

Cardboard coffins

I witness many things in this clinic. What makes me sad is when a baby dies during birth.

Then the family gathers in the clinic and they ask me to take the baby to the grave. The family will be very upset - usually they are crying.

It is not the custom for many people to follow a baby to the grave.

So usually they will stay here and I will wrap the baby in cloth and put it in a cardboard box.

Then I will rush to the cemetery and ask the caretaker for just a small space.

I know how to do it and I can do it fast, so the families prefer I do it.

We don't have a fridge or anything like that to keep a body.

The Kroo Bay clinic staff
The Kroo Bay clinic staff are keeping a joint diary

Save the Childrenhas launched an interactive website where Kroo Bay residents answer questions about their lives. Visitors will be able to access 360-degree images of the site, and catch up with the latest news from the slum through regular "webisodes".


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