A mother’s final look at life. In impoverished Sierra Leone, childbirth kills one in eight women.

by Kevin Sullivan

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Fatmata Jalloh’s body lay on a rusting metal gurney in a damp hospital ward, a scrap of paper with her name and “R.I.P.” taped to her stomach. In the soft light of a single candle — the power was out again in one of Africa’s poorest cities — Jalloh looked like a sleeping teenager. Dead just 15 minutes, the 18-year-old’s face was round and serene, with freckles around her closed eyes and her full lips frozen in a sad pucker.