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Country of the Month

Dr. Sheku Dennis Massaquoi – Sierra Leone

October 2022

“I chose this career and field of work because of the satisfaction it brings in putting smiles on the faces of suffering patients”. – Dr. Sheku Dennis Massaquoi, IVLP Alumni 

In the latest #CountryOfTheMonth feature, we are spotlighting Dr. Sheku Dennis Massaquoi, an #IVLP alumni from #SierraLeone who participated in a virtual IVLP titled “Global Public Health Challenges” in February 2022. During this program, Dr. Massaquoi and his group virtually traveled to Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California, where they looked at public health and infectious disease policy and programs and explored how governments prepare for disease outbreaks. 

Dr. Massaquoi is a Practicing General Surgeon at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In this role, he attends weekly meetings where important decisions regarding the day-to-day running of the hospital are made to ensure that all surgical conditions at the hospital are attended to and guarantee that those outside their reach are given the medical procedures they need. When asked why he chose this line of work, Dr. Massaquoi shared, “I chose this career and field of work because of the satisfaction it brings in putting smiles on the faces of suffering patients and their relatives after performing their surgeries and eventual completion of their management.” He further explains one of his achievements helping people: “A classical highlight was when I did the first lifesaving surgery in the continent of Africa on a COVID-19 positive patient.” 

When we asked Dr. Massaquoi to share some highlights from his IVLP experience, he stated, “A meeting worth remembering also was the one with UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health. [Another interesting experience] was our last day together and our meeting with Cedars Sinai-Hospital training for medical staff on preparing for communicable disease outbreaks. I must confess that I may wish to have this experience again and to further state that this is an experience I found to be very valuable.” He further explains, “IVLP has helped me learn something new about the U.S and this has changed my perspective and previous notions of U.S culture and its people in a very good and better way. The aspects of frankness, openness, and community services are amongst what captured my attention the most, and also the systems in place that help to retain people in service and motivate them to serve more.” Dr. Massaquoi goes on to explain how this program was beneficial to his career: “recent instances where I have applied what I learned during my IVLP experience to my work are in my mindset now of thinking globally instead of just case management within the hospital. I am applying what I learned in my IVLP Global Health Challenges Program to benefit not just the community and my country but also contributing to achieving universal affordable global healthcare for all in the near future.” 

When we asked Dr. Massaquoi to share something interesting about Sierra Leone to those who may not know much about the country, he explained how Sierra Leone has some of the most beautiful beaches and how the people are known for their friendliness and hospitality. He shared: “Everything adventurous travelers could want, my country, Sierra Leone, has. Exquisite, empty beaches fringed by palms, rainforest jungles with monkeys swinging through the trees, a fascinating heritage, and warm, welcoming people.” 

Thank you Dr. Sheku Dennis Massaquoi for sharing your incredible story and your important work in helping those in need in Sierra Leone! We are inspired by you and your passion for your work and your country! 

And thank you to our partners at Global Ties Arizona and the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles for your help designing and implementing Dr. Massaquoi and his group’s experience! 

Previous Features

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Suha Handal (Palestinian Territories)

“I believe that everyone can bring something to the table, and that individuality and diversity bring about beauty. I found the ‘Women and Entrepreneurship’ program as a great opportunity for me to share my professional knowledge and learn from others.” -Suha Handal on her IVLP experience.