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Dr Edward Nahim visit in Australia

Dr Edward Nahim visit in Australia

Before the end of the 2010, Dr Edward Nahim of Sierra Leone was in Australia. He paid a visit in the country through the support of the Sierra Leone Community Council (SLCC) in Sydney Australia and also with one of the renowned organizations, services for the treatment and rehabilitation of trauma and survival (STARTTS) in Sydney. From 1988 to date, STARTTS has been providing services to survivors of torture and trauma from refugee backgrounds. It provides lots of different psychological services for instance, assessment, counselling, psychiatric assessment, interventions, family therapy, group intervention and bodywork such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and pain management. The one and only psychiatrist for a country with a population of over 5 mllion people visit in Australia will yield a lot of dividend for the 11 year post war torn Sierra Leone if only a very good follow up is to be made by SLCC in Sydney and also more especially by the government of Sierra Leone.

Dr Nahim has been in close contact with the Sierra Leone community and STARTTS’ staff for the past 5 years in both phone calls and emails. Dr. Nahim was in close communications with the Sierra Leone community, especially SLCC in Sydney to ensure that his dream to promote the health services in the country, particularly mental health service become a reality. The purpose of the communications was for mental health services and intervention assistance from STARTTS and the Australia government for Sierra Leone. Some few weeks ago, Dr Nahim was finally invited to Australia. His visit really made an impact in Australia, especially in the Australia main stream community. Dr Niham made lots of head ways for the Sierra Leone community in Australia and the country. He was the icon of Sierra Leone in Australia during his visit, for his outstanding performance in the field of psychology and mental health.

The impact Dr. Nahim’s visit made in Australia has a very long way to go with the Sierra Leone community in Australia and Sierra Leone if properly handled with care by both SLCC in Australia and the Government of Sierra Leone because of the benefit it will bring. He delivered a series of lectures, including the Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand from 14-17 September 2010, STARTTS Clinical Masters class for mental health service providers working with African survivor of torture and trauma. The Masters class focused on how to work with African clients in clinical settings, Training sessions for staff at TMHC, trainee psychiatrists and staff at New South Wales (NSW) Institute of Psychiatrists, mental health at West mead Hospital and also mental health forum for African community leaders.

It will be interesting to know that Dr. Nahim’s visit to Australia was a household talk in Australia, especially the Australia main stream Psychologists, Mental Health professionals and the media in the country. All the number of series of lectures, trainings, conferences, and forums mentioned were jam parked with the Australian Psychologists, Mental Health professionals, main stream workers and African workers in the fields with great admiration for his eloquent speeches in the disciplines, particularly for his being the only psychiatrist professional in the rest of Sierra Leone for over 30 years now. His visit yielded future edible fruits because he was able to attract many organizations to help Sierra Leone in the psychological and mental health issues in the country. For the fact that during his range of lectures, trainings, workshops, seminars, conferences forums and meetings, he was able to put across the numerous problems that Sierra Leone is currently facing for lack of psychological and mental health supports, such as mental health service personnel, medications, physical infrastructures and health promotion in the country as it is just emerged from 11 years of brutal civil war.

 Some of the organizations that he was able to attract for assistance include STARTTS. STARTTS expressed interest to develop a service and support in Sierra Leone; the services include psychological (counselling), community development projects and health promotion. STARTTS is also willing to be a host agency for clinical placements of students from Sierra Leone. However the students have to cover their traveling and accommodation cost, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DAFAT) and Australian Agency for International Aid (AusAID) said  if they have to give support to the country, an official request should have to come from the Sierra Leone Government.

After his official engagement for which he was invited for by SLCC and STARTTS, he personally met with the Sierra Leone community in Sydney at a dinner. The dinner was organized by the Sierra Leone Community Council (SLCC), which chairman is a veteran journalist, Mr. Edmondson Sonny-Cole, a former Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) photographer journalist. During the dinner Dr. Nahim drew the attention of the community members present and explained to them about the country’s situation, how it’s in dare need of help, especially from Sierra Leoneans abroad. “There is a need for you people to help your country in whatever little way or big, that will make an impact in the country’s development.” He advised the community members to be peaceful and united. “Forget about your political party affiliation or which region you came from in the country. Sierra Leone should be paramount to you before anything else. You should come together as Sierra Leoneans to promote peace and development here in Australia and back home, Sierra Leone. That is the only way you can develop yourself here and the country. But without peace and unity among you, it will be difficult to help yourself and the country where you came from,” he said. 

Mr. Sonny-Cole, the chairman of the SLCC gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the community. In his vote of thanks, he told Dr. Nahim that, Sierra Leoneans in Australia are not totally peaceful and united as one might think. However, he would not hesitate to tell him that Sierra Leoneans in this part of the world are more peaceful and united than any other Sierra Leoneans living in some part of the world. “For example, the Sierra Leone community council (SLCC) which is the main umbrella body for all the different Sierra Leone community organizations in Australia, especially Sydney that facilitated his coming to Australia, consist of representatives of all Sierra Leonean community groups in Sydney and it is also in the process of having Sierra Leonean representatives in the council from all states in Australia. “We normally do things together as one family and have fun,” he said. He also promised Dr. Nahim that he, with the support of the community members they would surely going to make a fellow up of his footprint to ensure that the Australia organizations that promised to assist Sierra Leone do so accordingly. However, he also advised Dr. Nahim to go and inform the Sierra Leone Government to help the SLCC in Australia in making the fellow up to support his hard work so that his dream will become true.

In the pictures below, you can see Dr Nahim and the Member of Parliment for Multicultrual in NSW Lourea Farguson standing with Dr Nahim, the other pictures, include a cross-section of Sierra Leonean Journalists in exile, in Australia, Anthony Bee-Conteh (Tony Bee), Edmondson  Sonny Cole, Gamaga and Edison Yongai, the Managing Director of the Sierra Leone community radio in Sydney interviewing Dr Nahim and the others are some of the trainings, workshops and seminars held when he came.

By Tony Bee, Sydney Australia

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