icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

The world’s best-dressed nurse is in Sierra Leone: #SheLeadsTheWorld

Medium-format portrait of woman in bright blue dress, resting head on her arm, looking at camera.

Kadiatu Turay was inspired to become a nurse-in-training at the Matufuli Maternal and Child Health Post, after seeing how great the need was for pregnant women and new mothers. All photos: Nigel Barker/CARE

Kadiatu Turay was inspired to become a nurse-in-training at the Matufuli Maternal and Child Health Post, after seeing how great the need was for pregnant women and new mothers. All photos: Nigel Barker/CARE

At the Matufuli Maternal and Child Health Post (MCHP) in this small community, if a woman is giving birth, the staff must walk to a nearby stream to get water because there isn’t any clean water at the hospital.

Clean water is one of many things this clinic in rural Sierra Leone lacks. What they do not lack is a strong dedication to the health and well-being of their neighbors.

Not long ago, overwhelmed by need and with only three staff, the hospital’s nurse-in-charge asked around the village if anyone would like to become a nurse trainee. She got no takers.

So, she went to the neighboring village, Mapaki, which is where she met Kadiatu Turay.

Portrait of two women embracing.
Nurse-in-charge Hannah and Kadiatu share a close bond.

Kadiatu had completed her secondary education, but she didn’t have the funds to go on to university. A self-starter, she joined a CARE Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) to support her small business, selling a flowered rice and groundnut mixture, growing rice, and trading in groundnuts.

The Nurse-in-charge, Hannah, talked to Kadiatu about the opportunity at the hospital and shared her own personal experience of struggle, saying it was never too late to start something new.

Photo of one woman holding an infant while another looks on.
Each day, Hannah shares her years of experience with Kadiatu.

Today, Kadiatu is wearing a stunning blue dress as she goes about her business. The hospital is big and clean, with the warmth of wood furniture and big, covered porch areas in the front and back. It has examination rooms and a delivery room that, while spare, are welcome sights for people seeking treatment.

On a typical day, Kadiatu wakes up early in the morning and walks the three miles from her neighboring village to the hospital. She is always the first one there. She starts with cleaning the clinic and prepping for the day’s patients.

“I want to become a nurse so that I can help treat my people when they are sick,” she says. “My mother often advises me to put more attention into the nursing program.”

Photo of a man playing a marimba while children watch and clap.
A local musician welcomes visitors to the community.

Kadiatu’s duties are to test and treat patients for malaria and to monitor the growth of infants by tracking their weight. With only three staff, the workload is onerous.

There are also transportation and communication challenges being as remote as they are. Despite this “we train for the community,” Kadiatu says. “It is only for them we are here.”

The team works hard to keep spirits high at the hospital. Kadiatu sings a song that means “unity is very good in the world today.”

“During ANC [antenatal care] sessions at the clinic, we sing for pregnant women to dance,” she says.

“She is loved by the other colleagues,” Hannah adds. “They are fond of her and do most everything in common. She has the prospect of growing more than me. She is learning faster. We will continue to encourage and support her to stand and do more.”

The same is true for Kadiatu’s brothers and sisters. She says they want to be like her in the future.

Kadiatu’s day ends at 5pm. As the staff leave, they bid one another farewell, and she makes the three-mile walk back home, a true and dedicated leader-in-the-making.

For International Women’s Day 2024, CARE and acclaimed photographer Nigel Barker traveled to Sierra Leone to capture the essence and power of women’s leadership through portraiture. Kadiatu was just one of the leaders the team met with.

From March 1 through 15, CARE and Nigel will be celebrating the strength and leadership of women like Kadiatu around the world through the power of art and portraiture.

You can share your story about a woman whose leadership has inspired you by using #SheLeadsTheWorld and #InternationalWomensDay in your caption, and tagging @careorg on Instagram or @careusa on TikTok.

For more inspiring stories, please visit the full She Leads the World campaign page.

Back to Top