School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education

Ministry as a Psychosocial Counselor/Chaplain in Sierra Leone


Sister Mary Odondo writes of her ministry at Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone:

In my ministry, I deal a lot with issues that affect people physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. One of the major problems that people from Sierra Leone are facing is the aftermath of trauma as a result of war. However some people are traumatized from all sorts of accidents for example from the road, electrical machines, snake bites, gunshots and burns but other people suffer from both terminal and non terminal diseases.

My work basically involves Pastoral Care, HIV Testing and Counseling, Trauma Counseling, Palliative Care, Grief and Loss Counseling and Health Education.   I use the integral counseling skills and techniques when caring for my patients including children and adolescents.  Sometimes I use psychotherapy to enable them deal with their traumas as well.   I also work together with the interdisciplinary team for successful interventions in patient care.

From my experience, when people are in pain, they need a listening heart and safe environment to find deeper meaning in their struggle.   From this kind of care, they are able to cope with their situations well. “I came so that they may have life to the fullest” (John 10:10). This scripture passage is an invitation that all humanity has to be treated with dignity and this helps to enable people recall any painful experiences with hope.   For example instead of regretting  about  the past ,  they can  begin to  find another way of living with their present situations,  instead of blaming  others , they can begin to find creative ways  of dealing with their issues, instead of being  perturbed  by their  terminal illnesses , they can begin to  find ways of alleviating their  pain.

I also encounter some challenges such as language barrier and unjust structure within the country which hinders effective service delivery. In the midst of all these challenges, I still strive to   bring    Christ love to the most vulnerable groups especially children, adolescents and women.

Sister Mary treating patient.

Sister Mary treating patient.

Sister Mary with patient

Sister Mary with patient

Patient with family member.

Patient with family member.



3 thoughts on “Ministry as a Psychosocial Counselor/Chaplain in Sierra Leone

  1. Thank Sr. Mary for her work…. I’m sure she constantly is saying “oshh” constantly


  2. Sr. Mary, this is great! I’m so glad you are there for these people.

  3. I would to join you do this wonderful work the Lord God in Sierra Leone, please we too are chaplains in Sierra Leone. We are called OLIVE Branch INTERNATIONAL(OBI) USA. Thank for your life I pray the Lord we help you continue His work on planet Earth.

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