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Rural Health Care Initiative, a Minnesota based nonprofit (since 2011), operates in the country of Sierra Leone as a registered NGO (since 2013).


The Mission: To partner with rural communities in Sierra Leone in redeveloping health care systems to overcome one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.

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Our Network Partners

Mom at Mbao-mi Mothers’ Home

The Need: In Sierra Leone, a West African country, one in 17 women die related to pregnancy or childbirth (World Health Organization 2015); This number has improved to one in 31 (per DHS report from 2019).


Background: Founded in 2011 by nurse Alice Karpeh (who came from Sierra Leone to MN in 1994 in a UN asylum program with 9 children after her husband was killed in the war) and the diaspora of Sierra Leoneans living in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, along with Minnesota health care workers and friends.


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RHCI staff members in Tikonko

Four Key Program Areas:


Birth Waiting Homes:  Providing lodging, food, education and a safe place for women from remote villages to stay at the end of pregnancy, giving them access to midwife level of care at the local Community Health Center. 


Redeveloping the health care system by partnering with 4 local clinics

Motorbike Outreach Clinics to 8 villages

Donations of Medical Supplies and equipment  (approximately $10,000 in supplies annually)

Transportation system with 2 trucks and 3 motorbikes

Education for Community Health Workers


Child Health Program including malnutrition program with university trained nutritionist and use of RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food),  twice a month evaluations, education for caregivers and food demonstrations.  Transportation and referral to hospital for critically ill children. 


Food Security program, with large vegetable garden and development of 3 acre plot to educate local farmers on modern agriculture techniques, and to provide food for the Birth Waiting Homes.


RHCI works in collaboration with the midwives and other health care workers at these four rural health centers:  Tikonko, Gondama, Sembehun Tarbema and Kassama (all located in the Tikonko Chiefdom, Bo District, Southern Province of Sierra Leone)

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Mbao-mi Mothers’ Home ( RHCI’s first Birth Waiting Home, opened in 2018)


  • Since opening in 2018, the Birth Waiting Homes have provided care for over 600 pregnant and postpartum women and babies with no maternal deaths. 

  • Over 4000 child visits occur annually at the outreach clinics, including treatments for malaria, respiratory infection, diarrhea, and malnutrition, plus immunization access. 

  • RHCI provides pay employment to 14 full-time and over 50 part-time local Sierra Leone staff to carry out its mission. 

  • 85 Community Health Workers have gone through a 3.5 week training session with RHCI, in partnership with Midwives on Missions of Service

For more information:


Executive Director: Lisa Peterson

Program Director: Carol Nelson

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