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Mango members on Placement: Belayneh Alehegn in Sierra Leone with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

 

(Left) The EBOVAC project office in rural Kambia, (Right) Belayneh hard at work on the project accounts.

Belayneh Alehegn has been a Mango member for several years and has previously worked for NGOs across Africa and also in Asia. Belayneh recently started working for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), a role which he secured through Mango. Below, Belayneh tells us how he manages to juggle the financial management of several different project partners and also recalls the serious impact Ebola has had on the local area. 

I’m currently working as a Senior Finance Manager for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, helping to support their EBOVAC project, a clinical trial currently underway in the Kambia district of North-West Sierra Leone. The aim of the trial is to test a new vaccine against Ebola and brings together a mixture of local and international partners. The overall impact of Ebola on the local area is very serious indeed. With the suspension of flights and other transport to the region, there has been a negative effect on trade, as it has been difficult both to import and export goods into the area. Local amenities have also been affected, such as schools which are only just beginning to reopen.

My role is certainly very interesting. I largely deal with the day-to-day financial management of the project such as looking over cash flow and managing the budget of the project. I am also involved in financially supporting the many different partners involved in the project and am responsible for financial reporting and compliance. I have also been involved in the design and implementation of new financial systems and I’m in charge of a team of financial accountants and assistants. It is a varied role, but it’s good to be challenged.

It is certainly a quiet life, and the living conditions can be quite challenging, as they are quite basic and the area we live in is very rural. However, I am blessed with a very friendly community and a very supportive team. We are lucky to have such a diverse team working here in Kambia, composed of people from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Italy, and the UK. With so many people of different nationalities working on the project, we are never short of things to talk about. On weekends we spend our free time in Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown, which is about three hours away. 

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