The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2012, March 24-25

West African Medical Missions

This year our organization is striving to bring students with a passion to serve to Sierra Leone from May to September of 2012. With a focus on strengthening existing healthcare capacities. Student teams work to address specific goals and objectives set forth by local community leaders in each district they operate in. Our approach utilizes the unique backgrounds each volunteer can apply towards addressing community health needs, with an emphasis on strengthening through education. Our goal is to create systems with local structures to cultivate leaders within the communities of Sierra Leone, while also providing structured experiences for international volunteers to develop leadership skills. Our long-term vision is to, one day no longer send international volunteers abroad to provide health capacity strengthening, but to have local health leaders in place to provide sustenance to program strengthening activities.

Specifically we will have 2-groups of 5-6 teams in 2012. Each team will work in either Kono, Kenema, Kabala, Sherbro Island, or Freetown Sierra Leone. Teams will be composed of 1-2 undergraduate students, a graduate student, a nursing student or professional, and a medical student or professional. One of the ubiquitous programs conducted is the Young Scholar of Sierra Leone program (YSSL), which all volunteers participate in and take ownership of. YSSL is a summer program run for 6-8 weeks targeting senior secondary students. Local senior secondary students attend lectures on health and infectious disease in increasing depth over the summer. Students also work to design community outreach programs to target medical inequalities they find the most striking in their communities. Graduate students innovate systems of monitoring and evaluation, and health students and professionals work with local clinicians to provide education strengthening and support channels youth can take ownership of.

The health disparities existing within Sierra Leone place the country at the bottom of world rankings by the World Health Organization (WHO). The high burden of disease present can be attributed to infections and access gaps to the existing medical community. In 2009, there were 970 maternal deaths per 1000,000 live births (WHO, 2009). The two largest factors influencing maternal death were hemmorrhage and infection, which are both preventable in the existing medical communities. The under-5 mortality rate is also one of the highest in the world, with 192 deaths per 1,000 live births (WHO, 2009). The leading causes of death in Sierra Leonean children under-5 are malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea (WHO, 2009). The large burden of disease existing in the country is the major factor contributing to inadequacy in education, economic stability, and peace. By addressing the insufficiency in community health literacy, concrete steps towards prevention can begin to be created. We work to increase community health literacy in provincial areas of Sierra Leone where access to medical care is limited.

What new functionality we are looking for

What we are looking for in a website is simple. We want a website that allows us to convey our organizations vision, successes, and direction easily. That can be understood by populations we work with in West Africa and corporate donors in the U.S. simply. A place that gets people interested in our work, and drives them to learn more. Lastly and most importantly, we want a website which connects our recipients with the global community; providing a conduit for the world to see the problems of West Africa through their eyes. Helping those using our lens to observe, not only the marginalized populations we work with, but also themselves; realizing how easy it is for anyone to make a difference.

How the new functionality will help

Gabriel Schlough Director and Founders Says:

A new website will allow us to interact with the global community more effectively. Currently we are stuck in a developmental barrier. Existing as a non-profit organization, the majority of our operational costs are covered through donations. For our growth to the next level development to occur, we need to increase the number of people we interact with effectively. Due to the complexity of our operations, it takes a long conversation for someone to understand the extent at which we operate.

Everyone who has time to listen to our 30 minute explanation of the work we do abroad is amazed, and then wants to take part. Unfortunately we do not have the human resources to tell every person who is interested in our operations the specifics of what we do, and the beauty of our operations are in the details. We have an innovative approach to combating the health disparities present in West Africa, which is working phenomenally. Our problem lies in our inability to convey our approach to the general public, efficiently, and effectively enough for them to understand how simple the whole process really is. It is of my understanding that, a skilled team of web-developers would be able to bring us to the next level in our growth.

Everett Clifton Director of Operations Says:

Given WAMMs growth and adaptive characteristics, I have also stepped into the role of Creative Director. Leaving the website creation and development to be one of my areas of focus.

Recently, to cut down expenses and better guide our promotional activities, I have became moderately productive with the adobe creative suite (photoshop, dreamweaver, illustrator, etc). A number of ideas regarding branding and website design have come to mind that we (WAMM) would like to implement. I've discussed a number of the ideas below. But, please know that these are just ideas and your professional opinion will be treated with the utmost respect. I am aware of the relationship between designers and clients given previous ventures with a music production company I ran during college, prior to WAMM.

WAMM is searching for a website with a novel design and capacity for visitors to conduct deep information mining of our operations. WAMM is a non-profit, and we don't want to appear to be a traditional organization in the humanitarian field. WAMMs staff are all young, and bring huge personal aspirations as we all strive to be forward-thinking and innovative. WAMM must be mirrored in this representation through the aesthetics of our web design while remaining academically hip, given the dense content. From my perspective this is a difficult task, but I believe this design will definitively represent WAMMs core culture.

To express and maintain our thrifty (as in maintaining low-expenses) yet highly creative culture, WAMM prefers large amounts of blacks and grays with accents of white. We would like to sparingly use color while hovering over button-links and other site navigation tools. One goal is to look inexpensive as in the “wow” affect (and flash animation) but impress the audience with its content organization and progressive minimalist approach. In the past we have centered our design to mimic the function of academic research posters. Simple helix designs help exude a technical/academic impression.

We are aiming for the homepage to be designed in a unique way. I have already created these pages layout/background in photoshop and fireworks. The homepage holds the gateway to three different (yet relative) areas of West African Medical Missions (refer to for a visual representation). I am mentioning this to inform you about the potential groundwork we are already conscious of when designing a website. Below is a list with content description of each possible direction:

Assimilation: The area describes our mission, vision, philosophy, broad descriptions of our health care strengthening programs, staff, past volunteers teams, WAMM Chapters, contact information and background about the countries we are collaborating with (currently Sierra Leone). All of which including content and imagery. Heavy use of light boxes may be appropriate for this particular area. We use Assimilation as the path heading because our operations are complex and take some level of acculturation to adequately understand.

Strengthen: Strengthening is a constantly used term in WAMM. This is the activity volunteers participate in. The strengthening section will go into full-detail of how domestic & international volunteers can participate in the strengthening of healthcare capacities in West Africa. Specific WAMM program descriptions, FAQs, will also appear here.

Included in this section is a map of all the locations we are operate in and the affiliations/networks WAMM has established. Hovering over different geographical areas signals a light-box to appear listing the affiliations relevance.

Contribute: WAMM is not reliant on donor support (allowing for business model reciprocating its own sustenance) but aims to increase donor contributions in the near future by linking them directly with projects and allowing them to interact with their contributions. We feel this type of stakeholder deserves their own direct path to aid in the strengthening of our operations domestically and internationally. This layout will provide broad descriptions of WAMM and West Africa while allowing for multiple methods of asset contribution. Anything from monetary, frequent flier miles contributions and fundraisers ideas/possibilities are included here. Some donors may believe in our overall approach but are not interested in the academic support and foundation. Therefore, we provide an opportunity to feel apart of the strengthening possibilities without having the to have any sort of technical background or know-how.

I see each of the three gateways utilizing its own content layout to best represent the sections purpose. Yet there may be a few commonalities in each page. Such as WAMMs logo/homepage link, rectangular rotating banner at the top of the page, blog/news updates and search menu. There is much more information that I can provide but I feel this will suffice for an overall idea and direction.

WAMM is currently undergoing drastic growth and expanding their models acceptance in the humanitarian field. Our projected volunteer involvement this upcoming summer could hold a 500% volunteer increase. I full-heatedly believe that a renewed website will provide the justice WAMM deserves. Our web presence is weak, but we believe the completion of this project will solidify our web presence and motivate us to “rep” WAMM even harder than we already do. A stronger online presence will result in an absolute increase in our positive affect on health/educational disparities in West Africa. I am still formulating this project plan through my own ideas and have a well-crafted team which is dedicated to its development. We are in high hopes of winning this competition and will be organized and extremely prepped for the 24 hour development “rager.” I extend my gratitude for you taking your time to read my ideas.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_wammbefore Thumbnail_wammafter

58 Messages from Supporters

2012-01-25 01:21:07 UTC

It's an excellent new NGO. Their novel approach of using education, rather than dumping in resources, to develope a country is visionary.

2012-01-25 05:05:29 UTC
Amber Barnes

WAMM is an incredible organization that is working hard to address existing health disparities of West Africa, particularly those caused by a lack of educational opportunities for students in health and science concentrations. Community resource building and empowerment are the keys to creating a solid health infrastructure in countries like Sierra Leone and West African Medical Missions is providing the support to do just that. Kudos to this group of passionate volunteers!

2012-01-26 00:49:16 UTC
Sonya Sturgis

West African Medical Missions (WAMM) is a remarkable organization that brings volunteers annually to Sierra Leone, a country that is ranked as having the 8th lowest Human Development Index (HDI) in the world. (HDI = a global measurement based on standard of living, education, and life expectancy).

As a fellow volunteer in Sierra Leone last summer, I can attest to WAMM’s dedication to strengthening healthcare literacy, diminishing local health sector disparities, and inspiring communities to take action. What makes WAMM so successful is that their programs are sustainable so that communities can maintain the progression of their own health care & educational capacities. WAMM truly makes an outstanding difference.

Fact of the matter is, as a relatively young organization that is expanding quickly, we could really use an extra hand in our website. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, we need a website organized in such a way that is exceedingly efficient and accessible especially when working in Sierra Leone, where the internet quality is not always so predictable. That way, when abroad we can be using the website as an effective interface to share with the rest of the world all the remarkable ways we are helping a country so greatly in need.

2012-01-26 05:29:49 UTC
Amjata Bayoh

As a senior secondary school student who was involved in the Young Scholars of Sierra Leone(Y.S.S.L)program organised by the west african medical missions in sierra leone.I can attest that the west african medical mission is an organisation with excellent vission for west africa.WAMM has made me learn alot about health and community heigene through their tution program.I now know the prevention and cure of diseases such as HIV/AIDS,TB,Malaria,cholera,diarhea etc.I believe if all necessary equipment provided to the WAMM they can achieve their goal of no longer sending international volunteers abroad to provide health capacity strenghtening but to have local health in place to provide sustenance to program strenghtening activities,as we the young scholars of sierra leone are very much ready to take responsibilities and volunteer to strenghten and improve the health structure our various communities and beloved country sierra leone through the help of WAMM.

2012-01-26 20:59:34 UTC
Alimatu Bangura

54 Macdonald Street
Sierra Leone,
West africa

The West African
Medical Mission

Dear Sir/Madam,

The service you rendered to me was great and i appreciated the efforts you took to teach us about something we don't know. I really want to tell you that it helps me a lot and uptill now i am teaching various people about how they should be take care of themselves. Once again i want to say thanks and may God bless you.

yours faithfully,
Alimatu Bangura

2012-01-26 21:11:42 UTC
Abdulai Kamara

14 Water Side Road, Tengbeh Town,
Sierra Leone

The West African Medical Mission,

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to send my thanks and appreciation to the West African Medical Mission for their good intentions for Sierra Leone, and also I thank the West African Medical Mission for the knowledge they gave me about good health, disease, treatments, symptoms and cures of some endemic diseases. I am very glad today because when I have, or when someone have some kind of symptoms, I can tell what type of sickness is coming in his way, and not only that, I now sensitize people about about some endemic diseases and their treatment. But the most common disease in Sierra Leone is malaria, typhoid, and I am very happy to know the causes of these diseases. And the other infection is common cold. I am very glad to know the spread of this common cold (fresh cold). So I will like to say thanks so much to the whole body of the West African Mission. We would like to see you people again next academic year.

I love you all

Yours faithfully,
Abdulai Kamara

2012-01-26 21:27:46 UTC
Mariama Brewah

13A Lowerpipe Line
Off Wilkinson Road

West African Medical Mission (W.A.m.m)

Letter of appreciation

I write to convey my sincerest gratitude to West African Medical Mission for the observance of Health and Health Sanitation Seminars and Survey in my country, Sierra Leone.

I have to confess that West Africa Medical Mission has so far been instrumental in my life. With this knowledge attained, I have been able to develop and take great care of myself and especially my community in helping regulate its health sanitation.

How can i forget, moreover, how you have taught me more about the prevalent killer diseases in my community and methods of preventing and tackling them.

I am very much happy to inform you on progress against malaria and how safe is my community with the practices of health and sanitation ways such as weekly community cleaning exercise.

I am very very much grateful and i feel i owe you so much for the knowledge you have impacted in me. I can now boast of knowing what infant mortality is and ways of preventing it not alone to consider the essence of free health care in my country. I am very much proud to be a young scholar.

#72 Mariama Brewah

2012-01-26 21:35:35 UTC
Fatmata B. Koroma

Dear sir/Madam

I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for your kind gesture expressed towards me and the other pupils in our school. The scholarship you award me will go a long way in helping me achieve my educational dream. Before your intervention I was almost handicap financially and materially to continue my education, but your timely intervention gave me great assurance of achieving my educational dream. With your help I can now concentrate on my studies, fully knowing that my financial obstacles have been cleared. I pray that God will replenish your organization and open doors for you to help many more children to achieve their educational dreams.

Once more I say thank you

Yours faithfully,
Fatmata B. Koroma
St. Joseph's Senior Secondary School

2012-01-26 21:48:18 UTC
Leona Conteh

15 Aitkins Street,
Congo Market
Sierra Leone

Dear Sir/Madam

I wish to express my profound thanks and appreciation for the kind gesture in paying my school fees. This goes also for the lessons that you taught us during the past summer holidays.

I am very grateful for not only helping me financially but also academically. This kind gesture would be a lasting memory to me.

In addition, I promise that your effort will not go in vain. I will try very hard to see that your work yield good fruit.

Finally, I once again thank you and pray that the good Lord will bless and guide you all in all your endeavors.

I remain
Yours Faithfully
Leona Conteh
St. Joseph's Secondary School

2012-01-26 22:12:56 UTC
Kadiatu Slyvia Sesay

Dear Sir/Madam,

I want to start by thanking you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be one of your scholars. I really appreciate this opportunity and I will make sure it is well utilized. i pray that the Lord Almighty will increase the income from where this scholarship is coming from.
Lastly, to have scholarship has always been my dream and now that my dream has come through, I will make sure that the resources of this scholarship are use for the intended purpose. To crown it all, you will never regret making me a scholar or giving me this opportunity. Once more I want to extend my profound gratitude to all those who have contributed immensely to award this scholarship to me and my fellow collegue. God in His infinite mercy will bless and provide for you all.
Thank you very much
Yours Faithfully,
Kadiatu Slyvia Sesay

2012-01-27 02:10:44 UTC
Everett M. Clifton (Director of Operations - WAMM Headquarters)

Where to begin? Ill first start by briefly explaining my journey to help the less fortunate prior to my involvement with West African Medical African Medical Missions (WAMM). In 2008, I joined the US Army to protect our great country from terrorism, but also to aid those being bullied by terrorists in their own countries (middle-east). I was and am still proud of my combat deployment in Iraq. But, my immersion into WAMM has revealed how ineffective our mission plans were (to aid and assist the Iraqi security forces). Traditional thought leads us to believe that money rules and drives peoples actions. I've seen with my own eyes, tons of money being dumped into Iraq. Resulting in little change. Its as if we are forcing our value system upon another culture in hopes that they will change and alter their values to fit ours. Overall and personally, this does not work and frequently backfires. Therefore, the opportunity WAMM has/is providing me with feels as though clean air is getting pumped back into a very tight room; RELIEF. WAMM's culture revolves around the idea of "strengthening" rather than "developing." Development can often lead to traditional humanitarian efforts that transcribes our value system on those being aided. Its a stagnant idea of only charity; money will fix the problem. Strengthening allows for capacities to be "strengthened" through education (empowerment) given the focus communities current culture, values and resources... Strengthening activities (such as those listed in prior testimonials) provide a solid foundation for the community to grow their own empowerment techniques. This approach leads to organic growth given their own constraints; not the US's constraints. Realistic, Respectful, Obtainable and allows for community ownership. Honestly, WAMM's theory and ideology are ahead of its time. The operating programs are progressive and its culture spews forward-thought. Its a blessing to work with WAMM and I honestly think that anyone exposed to its operations and mindset come out more enlightened. So please help WAMM reintroduce Humans to Humanity: Root.4.Growth!

2012-01-30 22:44:04 UTC

West African Medical Missions, outside of being an incredible collection of hardworking philanthropists, has served as a refuge for the war-ridden children of Sierra Leone. It has provided a glimpse of hope for all Sierra Leoneans living within the country but also for those overseas. West African Medical Missions has successfully excelled in accomplishments not only in academia, but in community service and public health. These achievements are clearly apparent to anyone who has participated in its programs or has interacted with its pupils. However, the organization wants to expand beyond face-to-face advertising. The organization is kindly asking for a user-friendly website that will accurately and appropriately reflect these achievements but also the organization's mission statement, values, and goals.

In simpler terms, we want a website that equally reflects the passion and dedication currently fuming in the hearts of our volunteers and students.

On behalf of West African Medical Missions (WAMM), we would like to thank Nerdery for granting us with the opportunity to participate in such a phenomenal event. We will also like to thank you in advance if we are granted the gift of winning this contest. Best wishes to all.

Warm Regards.

2012-02-13 18:41:03 UTC
Michael Olson

West African Medical Missions is a game changer. It's as simple as that. The organization's unprecedented approach to public healthcare is as sustainable as it is ideologically prodigious. As a non-profit in its infancy, WAMM has seen enormous growth in its young life and only continues to affect the bright young minds of Sierra Leone. Their business model, which keeps resource expenditure as minimal as possible, produces a degree of communal renovation you'd expect from a globally recognized foundation with more than ample funding.
We are looking at the future of philanthropy. Take notes, people.

2012-02-15 04:00:10 UTC
Gibson Wong (Research Analyst)

WAMM's trip to Sierra Leone has been the greatest thing I've ever done. As a volunteer, I was devastated to see the inadequate health care and infrastructure taking a great toll on the nicest people I've ever met, and at the same time I was awed by the closeness of communities and neighborhoods. The students I worked with are the most motivated and assertive teenagers I have ever seen. Rich natural resources and beautiful tourist resorts have great business potentials.

Sierra Leone, from my observations, has all the human and natural resources needed to develop into a decent country where most people can live in clean neighborhoods and lead comfortable lives. The main reason why Sierra Leone turns out to be what we see is because of the "negative attitude" of the people ruling and living in the country. Without seeing a glimpse of hope, the citizens employ a negative attitude to put short-sighted selfish acts to survive over working hard to create an effective, collaborative social order to expand the pie. Negative attitude, operates through the Broken Window Theory, put Sierra Leone into a viscous cycle of despair and need to survive. The educational program of WAMM, ELI, brings in a fresh air to empower the people of Sierra Leone with hope. Hope abolishes negative attitudes, unites people to strive for a greater good. Quoting Shakespeare, "True hope is swift and flies with swallow's wings; Kings it makes Gods, and meaner creatures kings. "

WAMM and its novel programs, I attest, brings the HOPE Sierra Leonean desperately need. WAMM, through quality education, not dumping resources, aims to obliterate the negative attitude cycle. WAMM, empowering Sierra Leonean to enforce a strategic bottom-up collaborative effort, strengthens the society using its own culture, values and resources.

2012-02-17 02:48:07 UTC

For the past few years, I have watched in amazement and continue to be amazed at the success of the West African Medical Mission (WAMM) program. My statement reflects observation of staff volunteers from the United States and Sierra Leone, and students at work in the heart of Freetown Sierra Leone. Gabriel Schlough, Founder & Executive Director of WAMM interests and foresight to sacrifice his time, energy, passion and organizational skills in helping the underprivileged, especially young stars in a country that has suffered a setback as a result of the war, speaks volume of his commitment. I observed a tremendous need for health care literacy for which students in the WAMM program seemed hungry for, and appeared to be ready to learn, given their display of enthusiasm as they voluntarily attend classes. WAMM has laid the ground work for community resource building and empowering students to focus on health related careers that will in the future benefit the country as a whole. The continued success of the WAMM program can also be enhanced by having a website that will promote and expose the work that both students and volunteers do worldwide. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK WAMM!!!

2012-02-17 03:25:23 UTC

I had the opportunity to sit in the classroom and observed the WAMM staff interactions with the students. It was an awesome experience to see the excitement of learning and dialogue! As I looked out the window of the classroom during the students break from their work, my mind drifted to the US classroom settings and thought to myself, just how much we have in the United States, and how little the students have in Sierra Leone. The WAMM program staff members have demonstrated a true sense of passion, sacrifice of time, and commitment to helping students that are less fortunate than themselves. The WAMM program help students obtain educational knowledge to better equip themselves as well as the country they live in. WAMM continue to march! A website is necessary for WAMM to reach others and help share their dreams beliefs and commitment in serving others.

2012-02-18 07:58:04 UTC
Peggy Schlough

I have been beyond impressed with the oureach of WAMM. Not only do they go and live with the people they educate and teach, they leave the people they reach with the tools to continue to attain education. WAMM had a fundraiser last year that resulted in paying for education for a year for hundreds of students. The volunteers of WAMM are committed 100% to the people of Sierra Leone. They don't come to the country for a week or two. They come for months at a time and change the lives of the people they reach.

2012-02-18 14:16:25 UTC

My grandparents were from Sierra Leone and they would have been very proud too, to learn of the West African Medical Mission's great contributions and commitments to Sierra Leone. Your service is a blessing and how fortunate these people are to have such dedicated,compassionate and understanding individuals who would come to render such a valuable service. Your dedication to education will promote your mission and make it possible for the people of Sierra Leone to help their own people save many unfortunate lives. I say, thank you to the West African Medical Mission for all you do and may God continues to fulfill your mission.

2012-02-27 04:50:17 UTC
Kyle G

Our NPO has had many great discussions with WAMM the past 12 months. Since then I have learned about all of the great things they have accomplished and continue to strive for. The passion and ambition is admirable. A more technoligical efficient way of communication across the world could do wonders for WAMM and enhance their efforts. I fully support this organization and everything they will do in the future.

2012-02-27 00:25:05 UTC

This website will be a boon to the organization by providing a platform for visitors and potential partcipants to view the progress of programs we our working on, and read blogs by past and present volunteers.

2012-02-27 02:49:20 UTC
Gary B. Johnson MD, MPH, FACOEM

I've just returned from Sierra Leone where I was representing, along with two colleagues, a relatively new non-profit organization, the Rural Health Care Initiative (RHCI). Our goal is to build a clinic, mobile clinic and birth waiting home in rural Sierra Leone. Prior to leaving we had the very good fortune of connecting with WAMM. Wow, great advice, support and material assistance. They helped open doors and make connections for us that will inform and enable our effort going forward. Thank you, WAAM, for your generous assistance!! Good luck to all of us!!


Gary Johnson MD, MPH, FACOEM

2012-02-27 03:21:20 UTC
Kirk Allison

WAMM has been doing very good work in Sierra Leone facilitating ongoing projects with medical students there and facilitating peer education through with high school students. I and the University of Minnesota were very fortunate to have Gabriel Schlough as a student. His dedication in the founding of WAMM has shown great dedication and integrity.

2012-02-27 03:52:50 UTC
Jeanne Ayers

WAMM is working collaboratively with other NGO's to improve the health and wellbeing of people in West Africa. They are doing this in a culturally responsive way and model collaborative approaches. They generously share their knowledge and contacts. I met them in the process of helping to launch the Rural Health Care Initiative.

2012-02-27 04:13:15 UTC

This is a non-prophet with an amazing potential for growth. With a new website that potential could become reality. The reality of making a difference in the lives of thousands. What a great organiztion and a great cause

2012-02-27 04:17:06 UTC
pierce mackey

i have seen from the moment in the creators eye that this in depth perspective would blossom into a well developed gift to the world. West African Medical Mission is an ever growing spiritual gift to the world and should receive all blessings in every regard.

2012-02-27 04:19:58 UTC

WAMM is a amazing organization. It is such an inspiration to see people who are so dedicated to the mission of helping improve the lives of others. The medical information and scholarship assistance they provide to students of West Africa represent an important investment in raising the quality of life in this area. WAMM has been a great success, and I hope to see this organization continue to flourish and become a permanent fixture in West Africa. A website will help ensure the success and longevity of WAMM, which will in turn provide the means necessary to ensure success and longevity in the lives of the students themselves.

2012-02-27 04:51:17 UTC
Alex Knight

WAMM is a respected group of genuine, real, hard-working and well rounded humanitarians that deserve this. The group has made huge steps in the pubic health field and benefited so many people in Sierra Leone, but better yet the world. A new website would be a great reward for their approach to aiding others to develop and grow. Help them to help others. I can't think of an organization more deserving of this.

2012-02-27 05:21:21 UTC
Nick Sausen

In 2010 and again in 2011, under the scorching equatorial sun I lived in Sierra Leone as part of West African Medical Missions (WAMM). I was privileged to be part of WAMM’s first team to work in Sierra Leone. I was invited to participate as part of the team by the director of the organization, Gabriel Schlough. It just happened that he had been a classmate of mine while we were undergraduates at the University of Minnesota.

I was drawn to the project based on the public health vision that Gabe shared with me when we met to discuss the project in the spring of 2010. The ideas that were the backbone for WAMM were to educate and empower the citizens of Sierra Leone. The main thrust of our mission last year and the largest focus of this year’s mission is the Young Scholars of Sierra Leone (YSSL) program. The YSSL program recruits students from the secondary schools across Sierra Leone to participate in a course studying public health and medical science. The course emphasizes an understanding of endemic diseases and their underlying causes. Therefore, the course was heavily weighted towards educating students on the principals of microbiology, immunology, and physiology.

The secondary schools of Sierra Leone are modeled on the British system and are heavily weighted towards a rote-memorization learning style. Our goal with the YSSL program was to emphasize different learning styles including more small- and large-group discussions, problem solving, and public speaking. Ultimately our hope is to develop students to be their best, so that they can complete tertiary education, return to the classroom to be the leaders of the YSSL program, and ultimately better serve their family, friends, and community as leaders. Further, this program aims to disseminate the knowledge that is being shared with a larger population. The students have been responsible for developing community outreach projects based on surveying their community, forming an outreach proposal, and then carrying that proposal forward in order to share what they have learned. The energy and enthusiasm of the students in addressing problems they discovered in their own communities was breath taking. I was not sure what type of result would arise from this exercise, but one of the student-generated proposals created an outreach addressing malaria and its prevention that reached out to nearly 700 households using 21 student teams.

I hope that WAMM can utilize a new website to facilitate continued inspiration and education year round with students in Sierra Leone. I hope that our site can help us to grow throughout West Africa. It would be amazing to use our site as a place where students can come to learn about new concepts, devise ways to implement them in their community, and strive to become community and healthcare leaders of Sierra Leone and West Africa.

All the best,
Nick Sausen

Medical Student-University of Minnesota

2012-02-27 08:52:53 UTC
Joseph Edem-Hotah

College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Freetown Sierra Leone. WAMM is a brilliant organization that works in collaboration with my institution in training health workers. WAMM workers are amazing and full of energy, therefore, a potential for the organization to grow A new website will help tremendously to achieve their mission. It has been great to work with them. Good luck.

2012-02-27 08:54:39 UTC
Joseph Edem-Hotah

College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Freetown Sierra Leone. WAMM is a brilliant organization that works in collaboration with my institution in training health workers. WAMM workers are amazing and full of energy, therefore, a potential for the organization to grow A new website will help tremendously to achieve their mission. It has been great to work with them. Good luck.

2012-02-27 09:00:30 UTC
Joseph Edem-Hotah

College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Freetown Sierra Leone. WAMM is a brilliant organization that works in collaboration with my institution in training health workers. WAMM workers are amazing and full of energy, therefore, a potential for the organization to grow A new website will help tremendously to achieve their mission. It has been great to work with them. Good luck.

2012-02-27 10:58:08 UTC
Anna Pardun

It would be fantastic to see West African Medical Missions receive a website as awesome and innovative as their organization. Please help the hard-working leaders and volunteers of WAMM spread the word about their mission and share their stories as they continue to make a difference in communities throughout Sierra Leone!

2012-02-27 13:14:36 UTC
Lars O.

I truley believe Wamm is an amazing non profit that could change the world we live in. The volunteers are dedicated individuals that spends months training and building communities so that the benifits and changes are sustainable for a life time. The students involved are left with a life changing experience. I believe that they are truley involved in a new way of doing charitable work that could bring about a postivie lasting changing to the people of siere leone.

2012-02-27 14:04:54 UTC

I was in Freetown for 4 weeks to do research for RHCI and to be honest, my coleages and I would not have it without the support of WAMM. We heard so many good things about them and we learned a lot from them too. An upgrade to their website will be a great assistant to their mission.

2012-02-27 14:37:01 UTC

I'm had the privilege of watching WAMM quickly grow in to a successful NPO over the past few years. A new website would foster further growth by showing people how WAMM makes such a significant and lasting difference for the people of Sierra Leone.

2012-02-27 14:42:02 UTC

WAMM is a life changing non-profit for everyone involved. It is a great program that reaches out to make a difference in both Sierra Leone as well as our own country. By increasing awareness of the importance of education and a healthcare system everyone benefits. A new website could help take this nonprofit to the next level.

2012-02-27 14:44:21 UTC
Carissa Volbrecht

WAMM is a great organization that enhances global awareness and has a sustainable approach to bringing change by empowering individuals to become leaders in their communities. I cannot think of a more deserving organization for a new website that will advance their vision and allow for even greater change.

2012-02-27 14:58:20 UTC

I work with a volunteer research program in the Twin Cities and know many students who have been involved with WAMM. It has been amazing to hear about the organization, its efforts, and vision from the beginning. Watching the organization and young professionals grow has been inspirational to witness.

2012-02-27 15:26:53 UTC
Melanie Stovall

Gabriel Schlough of WAMM has an amazing story to tell and would benefit greatly from a better designed website, allowing him to reach more people with their mission. I first met Gabe in high school and ran into him again about a year ago in Minneapolis. When I learned of his amazing organization and the work they have done to improve the health situation in Africa, I was truly amazed. West African Medical Missions is more than deserving of getting a redesign by the Nerdery and I sincerely hope they are chosen.

2012-02-27 16:14:36 UTC

WAMM is an outstanding example of thinking internationally and even acting internationally in a direct to the people local situation. My brief conversations with one student who participated convinces me that this program offers an exceptional opportunity for those who want to help kids and adults in need.

2012-02-27 17:23:07 UTC

WAMM is a great organization working for a great cause! I am a teacher and my student's have had the opportunity to be pen-pals with students in Sierra Leone because of WAMM. Not only does this organization greatly impact those in Sierra Leone, but now my students (in rural Wisconsin) are being connected to children their same ages living on the other side of the world, experiencing very different living situations. This has helped open the eyes of my students to realize the challenges of people around the world. We enjoy looking at pictures and reading about WAMM, having an upgraded website would make it easier and more interactive for my students. Please help WAMM! It's for a great cause!

2012-02-27 17:45:18 UTC
Anthony Brink

WAMM is an incredible program that has only been on the up-and-up since the beginning. Although it may be a younger organization compared to others, WAMM has seen many accomplishments and will indeed continue to do so for years to come. WAMM has just recently become a Tax Exempt 501(c)3 organization, a contestant of the Clinton Foundation, and recieved a 'Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs' certificate from the Republic Of Sierra Leone. The progression that has been made within the program is astounding due to the hard work, persistence, and immense amounts of effort put into the goals of WAMM. I give a round of applause to all the local organizations helping out with issues within the Twin Cities, but I really tip my hat off to the people of WAMM who are taking the extra leap to deal with misfortunes that take place on another continent! And they are not sending supplies and giving advise over the phone, groups of volunteers are making the trip all the way to west Africa for months at a time. A new website would really help display the goals, accomplishments, and opportunities of this astonishing objective. I can't wait to watch these people help change the world.

2012-02-27 18:09:08 UTC
Sahr Andrew Brima

WAMM is indeed a unique organization that seeks to address the socioeconomic issues of Sierra Leone through a mutually empowering collaborative effort between volunteers and Sierra Leoneans. Their work is invaluable to the African context where foreign aid fails to reach the poorest and corruption is endemic. It is in the incalculable interest of these poor that WAMM be given every resource amd opportunity to continue it's work.

2012-02-27 18:10:39 UTC
Alexandra Osten -Minneapolis, MN

As a marketing/design major, I realize how valuable a well-designed website can be (and how expensive they can get, too). This is ESPECIALLY true for a non-profit-- a website is an invaluable resource for a organization that survives solely on public assistance to accomplish their goals. A non profit’s website needs to make it easy to find out more about their cause, to donate money, and to become more involved. It needs to make it easy for media contacts to find the information they need and the contact information of key personnel. And it needs to do all this in a way that’s inviting to the organization’s targeted donors and/or volunteers. West African Medical Missions needs and deserves a well-designed website as a marketing tool, not only because it is a powerful way to promote their ideas and build a following of like-minded people, but also because it would be a great resource for the public when trying to be involved in WAMM activities. The young people involved in West Africa Medical Missions are determined and strong and are obviously more than dedicated to their goal of helping others. They have reached above and beyond what is required of them in order to help people from across the world. Their goals are sincere and profound. I can't think of any group or organization that is more deserving of marketing assistance/ a website.

2012-02-27 19:01:46 UTC

I am fortunate to have traveled to Sierra Leone and take part in the medical mission work WAMM is involved with. Teaching local secondary students about diseases prevalent in Western and sub-Saharan Africa was incredibly fulfilling, and the level of excitement and dedication on the part of the students made it an even more rewarding experience. The opportunity to work with local health care professionals and learn more about endemic disease and how it is treated provided new perspectives on world health.

Everyone I have met that becomes involved with WAMM finds themselves looking for ways to return to Sierra Leone and continue to contribute to the mission. This is a testament to how the WAMM leadership has cultivated the program into something people cannot wait to be a part of; the relationships between WAMM leadership, student/professional volunteers, YSSL participants, and local physicians and pharmacists are so personal and integrated that it is impossible to sense anything but enthusiasm from those involved.

2012-02-27 19:11:42 UTC
Simon Shaekou Allieu

There is a graet traditional saying that reads "It is from a small seed that the giant Iroko tree has it beginning" It is the idea and vision of a young man, who had passion for education and young people in society that the health care of young scholars in Sierra Leone is being strengthened.Factually the West African Medical Mission is a mission of health care minded individuals, whose vision is to see the health care system of West Africa and Sierra Leone to be precised in a stable situation. I volunteered with WAMM two years back when they held the first Young Scholars of Sierra Leone program at the Prince of Wales School, Kingtom, Freetown Sierra Leone.My activity wth WAMM was fraternalized with other volunteers coming from abrod. It is with no regret I write that scholars of WAMM are now aware of diseases that are endemic in Sierra Leone,the symptoms of these diseases and preventative measures.WAMM is indeed a mission to reckone with and lat years deserving scholars are now benefiting of the scholarship WAMM offered them after successful completion of the YSSL program at St. Joseph Secondary School Brookfields Freetown.
God Bless the founder, God Bless the Volunteers and God Bless the Mission.
WAMM shall reign forever.

2012-02-27 19:27:15 UTC
Anthony Brink

WAMM is an incredible program that has only been on the up-and-up since the beginning. Although it may be a younger organization compared to others, WAMM has seen many accomplishments and will indeed continue to do so for years to come. WAMM has just recently become a Tax Exempt 501(c)3 organization, a contestant of the Clinton Foundation, and recieved a "Ministry Of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs" certificate from the Replic of Sierra Leone. The progression that has been made within the program is astounding due to the hard work, persistence, and immense amounts of effort put into the goals of WAMM. I give a round of applause to all the local organizations helping out with issues within the Twin Cities, but I really tip my hat off to the people of WAMM who are taking the extra leap to deal with misfortunes that take place on another continent! And they are not sending supplies and giving advise over the phone, groups of volunteers are making the trip all the way to west Africa for months at a time. I can't wait to see these people help change the world.

2012-02-27 19:56:24 UTC
Maria Finke

WAMM is a truly unique organization, working to enrich the lives of both its traveling volunteers and people in the communities of Sierra Leone. Not only is the work that the organization and its volunteers achieve outstanding but also the method of forming partnerships that work toward long-term, sustainable change within communities. A revitalized website could hugely aid in the growth of this wonderful organization, as well as the spread of an innovative and powerful idea.

2012-02-27 20:53:35 UTC
Pete Johnson

WAMM is truly a life changing non profit with great leadership spearheading it. It is remarkable to see the selfless service of all the people that are involved in WAMM. WAMM has given many priceless opportunities to the people of Freetown Sierra Leone, by providing educational scholarships to numerous individuals. I am proud to know people that are so caring and determined to make such a positive change in our world. I would love to see WAMM get a new website to keep up with there even expanding organization. Communication through the internet is imperative in todays world and having a new website would give WAMM the edge they need to communicate the organizations mission to the world. I would like to give my personal thanks to all those involved in WAMM for putting the needs of others before themselves.

2012-02-27 21:05:02 UTC
Ryan Panure

WAMM is a great program that has really started to gain a lot of good attention. Although a younger organization it really supports a great cause in a different country. The problem in Sierra Leone is much greater then what most people think and they really do need to extra help and effort that WAMM is providing. It would be really nice to see the organization get a new web site to help promote the group even more. The WAMM program really deserves this because of all the hard work that many people have put a lot of their time into. This is for a great cause and this program deserves any help and support it can get.

2012-02-27 22:02:31 UTC
Ashley Brown

WAMM gave me the opportunity to experience a totally different country and culture, and most importantly gave me the chance to do so in a meaningful and useful manner. I was able to take what I'd learned through my educational career (specifically biology, the topics of endemic diseases and healthcare) and pass it on to a group of highly motivated, bright and inquisitive high school students in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Even better, we wanted our students to take what they'd learned and bring it out into their communities in an effort to improve the working knowledge base of anyone willing to learn on the topics of health and disease. It was my first structured, large-group teaching experience, and I discovered just how much I enjoy teaching. I have to say, though, I think I learned just as much, if not more, from the students and neighbors and even perfect strangers of Sierra Leone as they learned from me. The people are so welcoming and community-oriented that I quickly felt like I was in among family. It was an unforgettable experience, and I hope someday when I can dedicate part of a summer I can go back.
I can't wait to see how this relatively young volunteer organization grows and expands, because I think it can do a lot for Sierra Leone and other regions of West Africa, particularly the high-school and college populations. Even better, as more students participate in WAMM, they bring what they learn to their families and neighbors, and increase awareness of healthcare and relevant health concerns throughout their communities.

2012-02-28 02:09:30 UTC
Lori Bell

They collaborate to bring the best educational products to their programs!

2012-02-28 02:53:58 UTC
Gabriel W. Schlough Founder and Cloud 9 Theorist

Over the past few years I have observed an idea grow into a movement. I've been afforded an opportunity to observe the influence individuals with a passion to serve, can have on an entire population. I believe an improved website will provide an opportunity for the marginalized populations we interact with to bear witness to the forces of oppression surrounding them. We need to have a web-presence which directly improves the lives of those who participate in our activities, by increasing their access to being part of the change needed in the global health sector. The voices of those we interact with abroad are not timid, but oppressed through structural violence, silencing their definitions of oppression. Over the years our collaborative model of program creation has demonstrated the oppressed populations are not absent of answers, but have all the solutions to liberating their lives from first world structural repression. We need a web platform to be created which allows for the voices of the oppressed to bear witness to the forces of oppression surrounding them.

2012-02-28 04:51:37 UTC
Cameron S

WAMM is an important grassroots organization that is doing a lot of good work improving the health care capacities in Sierra Leone. A stronger website will be of great service to them to help better connect health care workers in the U.S. with those in need in Sierra Leone. Also, it will help connect the fundraisers and donators in the U.S. and aboard with those that receive the help in Sierra Leone.

2012-02-28 04:57:05 UTC
Jane S

WAMM is a living example of what exemplary volunteerism should be. Unlike the many common relief schemes that blindly seek to pour resources into an epicenter in need to get credit for helping, this grassroots organization delivers what requires the highest level of involvement and dedication - it brings education and builds tangible skill sets, vital for the advancement of public health in Sierra Leone. Helping this organization obtain a professional website would definitely be a high impact and high reward project!

2012-02-28 04:57:45 UTC
Curt N

WAAM is exemplary in their approach to development. Their approach is thoughtful and one to be emulated. An upgrade to their website will play an important role in furthering their mission.

2012-03-01 19:56:16 UTC

WAMM is a dream come true for both the volunteers and the recipients of the wonderful services it provides. Sustainable non-profit organizations, like WAMM, that are grassroots founded and foster community involvement is vital to create real change. I believe everyone should have access to the basic right of health and education so they can change not only their future, but the future of their community and future generations. This organization has helped provide these vital rights changing Sierra Leone for the better, one student at a time.

2012-03-03 04:09:38 UTC
Anneliese :)

I am excited,empowered,and hopeful for the future of humanity. I admit to loosing faith rapidly with people, not only the lack of concern they show for others but also ones selve worth, the world needs help! It only takes one...One person to reach out and jump start others into caring and rebuliding life until then we will fail one another. Thank you to everyone that does this by giving each other knowledge we are giving life to the world now and the next generation. West African Medical Mission is fullfilling this call to be the extrodinary people we ALL are! As the Grateful Dead say,
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world,
The heart has it's beaches, it's homeland and thoughts of it's own.
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the mornin brings,
the heart has it's seasons, it's evenins and songs of it's own.

There comes a redeemer, and he slowly to fades away,
And there follows his wagon behind him that's loaded with clay.
And the seeds that were silent all burst into bloom, and decay,
And night comes so quiet, it's close on the heels of the day."

Love, Live, Be!

Our Mission

West African Medical Missions works to strengthen existing healthcare capacities in West Africa through community empowerment and education. Our organization facilitates opportunities for international volunteers to engage in projects abroad in environments cultivating global leaders. We bring supplies, educational aids, and volunteers to West Africa annually. This year’s current country of focus is Sierra Leone.