Sierra Leonean who dropped out of med school after finding love now struggling in Jamaica

Stabroek News: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 January 2021

Etta Isatu Findlay was on her way to earning a medical degree from the Carlos J. Finlay University of Medical Sciences. She said that she left her homeland of Sierra Leone in West Africa, and was receiving medical training at the Cuban university.

Etta, age 27 at the time, was within touching distance of completing her studies when she met a Jamaican, who she thought was her knight in shining armour. She started her programme in 1991, and in year five of her studies she met her Prince Charming. The lovestruck Etta decided to leave Cuba and head to Jamaica with him, where they got married in 1999.

That decision to leave Cuba before completing her degree is one that Etta, now 52, has come to rue.

“To say regret is too simple a term, it is more than that. To me, it has changed my whole existence. This is a concentration of untold sadness,” Etta said.

Since moving to Jamaica, Etta’s life has taken many twists and turns. Her marriage ended in divorce; she is, for the most part, penniless; and she now lives in a church building at Waterloo district, Ewarton, St Catherine.

“I was in my fifth year doing general integrated medicine, but I met and fell in love with this Jamaican, who became my husband. We lived in St Ann until 2004, when I had to leave the house,” Findlay said.

“This is where I have been for sometime now. And while I am thankful for the mercy, I really need assistance to go back home,” Etta, who has one daughter, told THE WEEKEND STAR as she stood at the doorway to the humble church room.


“Things got very difficult and I am here since January 25, 2017,” said Etta, who moved to Waterloo where she gained employment as a caregiver. “Honestly, it is hands of mercy that keep me. Things need to change, and I believe in myself; I just need some help.”

She told THE WEEKEND STAR that she is the second of 12 children for her parents, and was in touch with relatives in the West Africa country up to four years ago. She has thought about returning to Sierra Leone, but believes the cost is simply prohibitive. In any event, she calls Jamaica home.

“This is where I call home; therefore, if I am able to get sustainable employment, I am willing to work also to help my situation,” she said, adding that she can work in medical facilities or care centres.

Etta, in 2008, earned a medical office assistant diploma from Penn Foster Career School, after doing an online programme with the school, which is licensed by the Arizona State Board in the USA.

Pastor Marlene Martin, who heads Faith Community Churches of Jamaica, said she found out about Etta’s situation when the church, which was closed for a while, was reopened in August.

“I came and saw her, and find her to be quite mannerly. She is willing to work, but the COVID-19 pandemic curtails everything, therefore she needs help,” Martin said.

Etta currently depends on the goodwill of persons to survive, and occasionally earns her bread by performing odd jobs.

“I am aware of a person who would assist with a piece of land, but she needs and deserves help. She has no family or roots here, so it compounds the problem, and it’s very bad,” Martin said.

Etta Isatu Findlay may be contacted via telephone at 876- 224-9047.


  1. Daylight – Al Mustafi was getting ready to cross the street dressed in his elegant super silk golden robes when a wretched beggar grabbed him gently with a look of desperation and hunger in his eyes saying, “My Lord, I apologize for touching you, I did not intend to offend but I am a starving man in desperate need of some food and drink.” Then Al Mustafi cleared his throat and spat on the ground growling, “Thou cursed unclean naked creature, where are your fine clothes? Do you have any? Where are your relatives and siblings and in which country were you born? Which heinous crimes have you committed that are haunting you like a squirrel bolting for safety at the sight of a hungry wolf? “I have done nothing wrong but ask thee for help, why dost thou condemn me” the beggar said sobbing with tears.

    Al Mustafi laughed and raised his voice for everyone to hear saying, “I will not give you a cent or a drop of water to quench your thirst until I know your story – men do not become wretched and pitiful overnight; the evil that they have done always comes back viciously to hunt them down and reduce the work of their hands to rubble.” He then walked away smugly leaving him empty-handed, after asking the poor hungry beggar so many inconsequential questions that no loving and generous heart, would even dare to ask. Mr Sorie’s comment reminded me of Al Mustafi, someone who would first reduce and denigrate those in need with their incessant unnecessary questions, instead of helping them for the sake of our Omnipotent merciful God. Answer – can mistakes that have already been committed ever be changed or erased by the hands of man? So why not help a fellow citizen instead of casting doubt and trying to diminish the seriousness and urgency of her plight. Folks, these out of touch people are the kinds of leaders the SLPP and NGC have been tirelessly grooming to become future leaders of Sierra Leone – men with hearts made of stone.(lmao)

  2. On the surface Etta’s case is really a sad one. In retrospect she made a disastrous decision out of deceptive love from a ruthless Jamaican. The chances are that Etta was not her first victim. He must have showered her with cynical love, which completely captivated her soul and dulled her senses.

    But there are missing pieces in Etta’s story to authenticate her predicament. Where exactly in Sierra Leone does Etta hail from? Are all her relatives deceased – mother, father, brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews , uncles ,aunts, etc? Where did she go to school? Did she do any work before departing for Cuba? Was her Prince Charming also a student in Cuba? Upon arriving in Jamaica, did she sense anything amiss? Etta seems not to have any desire to return to Sierra Leone – why? There is no iota of cynicism here, nor a lack of sympathy or empathy but the world is full of fraudsters and scammers. Upon proving her case beyond doubt the typical Sierra Leonean stands ready to help. We’re a generous and endearing people despite our shortcomings.

  3. Reading about her situation, I think we are all missing the point here. The question is: how can we help this poor lady who is in dire need? This lady needs financial help.

  4. Totally agree with Dr Emmanuel Johnson Ph.D. Until recently and in terms of economic security prospects, there was not much difference between Jamaica’s prospects to that of Sierra Leone. Maybe the only difference is Jamaica boasts of having one of the highest murder rates in the western hemisphere. I know the saying love conquers everything. Thank God to the present government under Prime Minister Andrew Holness, that have instituted social, and economic and security changes, facing the Island nation. The taking down of the ghetto king “Christopher Michael Coke” leader of the drug gang the Shower Posses, known locally as “Dudus Coke” and his extradition to the US in 2011, was the turning point in helping arrest the gun culture in Jamaica’s streets violence.

    Today Jamaica’s economics prospects is looking up, whilst Sierra Leone under Bio’s is for ever trapped in an economic melt down. Padded with ill-thought out economic plans, that do not reflect the needs of Sierra Leoneans and exacerbated by unchecked corruption. I wonder given your circumstances, Ms Etta Isatu, and as a Sierra Leonean, you have sought help from our inept government that cares very little about their citizens outside Sierra Leone. Usually when citizens of countries get trapped in foreign lands, their first port of call is our Embassies or consular services. Sierra Leone and Jamaica are both members of the Commonwealth. Even if you do not want to go back to Sierra Leone for understandable reasons, at least your government knows you are residing in that country. After all there is no place like home.

  5. Remember my sister, there should no shame in the game of True Love – The Great English Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote:”ITS BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST THAN NEVER TO HAVE LOVED AT ALL.” Indeed,billions of people around globe have never tasted or enjoyed the fruits of true love;they adjust to all kinds of ugly situations and relationships just because they lack the courage to put their trust in someone else; the fear of getting their heart broken and feelings deeply hurt is something that overshadows the need for true love in the minds of millions.

    Arranged marriages are popular in some cultures because it removes the complexities that may arise from true love completely out of the marital process. So take heart, for you have been able to tread boldly on thinnest ice and survive, a thing many people would not even dare to attempt; and unlike the cowardly millions, you rose on the wings of love and flew to the skies, albeit temporarily and descended quietly and gently to the majestic earth once again.(lol)

  6. Our actions and decisions always come with consequences, one directly after the other like vigorous bridesmaids in a wedding following in the footsteps of an elegant bride. Folks, the world can be a cruel, unforgiving place if we fail to order our footsteps with caution, diligence and restraint. Indeed,its very true that we are responsible for our own fate,and for the personal choices and decisions we make, good or bad – It is all in our hands. My Old man once told me to be always prepared to benefit or suffer with resoluteness all things that may be triggered towards me in the form of notable results stemming from my decisions and actions.

    Some of our choices can totally change our lives for the better, others for the worse. This is truly a sad, heartbreaking, troubling story about the devastating consequences that we must suffer because of our ill-advised decisions. When it comes to love, one must tread softly because it is something that can be understood only by the heart that experiences its overpowering turbulent waves and currents. So many have argued that the price that true love demands is too high for any emotionally bankrupt heart to be able to afford and as a result, she always ends up alone, in misery, despair and sadness.

    The legendary William Shakespeare once wittingly said, “The course of true love never did run smoothly.” Totally agree! My advice to our beloved sister Isatu is for her to stand strong and firm, because storms always come and go, wet rainy days are replaced by dry sunshine, and there will always be good times and bad for all of us to deal with. The secret to overcoming hardships and trials, is to be fully aware that; “Nothing here on planet earth is permanent, everything comes and goes.” That is the master key for surviving trials and difficult times. Yesterday is gone my sister, you must find the courage to put the past behind you. It is now time to dust yourself off and move forward.

  7. Moving to the western world, students from Africa as undocumented immigrants have an especially tough time accessing services, largely because they are afraid of being deported. People will avoid seeing the doctor or reaching out for services like legal guidance when they are badly needed, especially in places like Jamaica.

    Those who are in America legally aren’t necessarily in the clear, though. Difficulty speaking English, trouble taking time off work and limited transportation (we will get to that) are all genuine issues.

    Accessing mental health issues is especially problematic. Many times, refugees and immigrants get exposed to violence, rape, even torture – but they may not know how to seek help. Mental health issues are taboo in many cultures, creating an additional barrier for those in need.

    For those who can successfully get the services they need, the experience is usually negative. In Jamaica, I heard stories about law enforcement professionals misunderstanding a victim’s statement because of language barriers, and doctors misdiagnosing sick patients for the same reason. Leaving Sierra Leone for Jamaica was a bad idea. There is a minuscule difference between Sierra Leone and Jamaica.

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