Mercy Hospital’s outreach team visits a small village by the name of Mendewa along the Lewabu Community section every month. During these outreach visits, they supply nutritional supplements to moderately malnourish children in the village to reduce the malnutrition rate in Bo District as a whole.
A few months ago, the outreach team met a woman named Aminata Pyne in this community. Aminata has a seven-month-old grandson named George. George’s mother abandoned him a month after given birth to him. Aminata struggled to care for George after his mother left, and he became malnourished. So, his grandmother decided to take George to the nearest health center when she heard that Mercy Hospital outreach team would be visiting there that day. George was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition and his grandmother was given Pikinmix porridge and fish powder for help with his growth.
Now, George has grown both in weight and size, and his grandmother says he likes the Pikinmix and fish powder food so much that he does not tolerate any other food prepared for him to eat! He is getting stronger by the day, and his grandmother is very grateful for the support giving to her grandson.
Child Reintegration Centre case managers traveled to Manguama village to distribute food to families made more vulnerable by the economic slowdown affecting the whole country. Manguama is one of the villages served by Mercy Hospital's medical outreach teams, and home to ten CRC students. These families, who are among the most marginal in a predominantly poor population, have been struggling severely, as markets were closed and movement restricted to prevent the spread of COVID.
The restrictions put in place by the Sierra Leone government to limit the spread of COVID further depressed the already sluggish economy, and have imperiled families in extreme poverty. The price of food has inflated by as much as 16% by some reports, and the percent of people with insufficient food has increased to more than 50%. Sierra Leone already had a very high rate of child malnutrition, which has increased to nearly 30% for children under five. There are no government provided income support measures in place, and no debt relief.
COVID-19 is also an added burden on Sierra Leone’s fragile health system, which is still recovering from the 11-year civil war that ended in 2002 and the Ebola outbreak that killed nearly 4,000 people between 2014 and 2016.
As of September, most government-imposed restrictions have been lifted, although gatherings of more than 100 people are still banned. Sierra Leone has reported more than 2,000 COVID cases, with 72 deaths. (COVID Tracker: https://www.bing.com/covid/local/sierraleone)
Restrictions: As of September 11:
-There are no workplace measures.
-There are no stay-at-home requirements.
-There are no restrictions on internal movement.
-There are restrictions on gatherings of more than 100 people.
-Screening is in place.
-The government does not provide income support.
-There is no debt or contract relief in place.
Thanks to the generosity of Floris UMC and other supporters, the CRC distributed "half-bags" (25kg) of rice to 110 more families who have been made vulnerable by the economic downturn caused by COVID prevention measures (See previous story Needy families receive emergency food from Child Reintegration Centre.)
Living in one of the poorest nations in the world, most families in Sierra Leone already struggle to feed their children, and the families the CRC serves are among the most vulnerable. Policies instituted by the Sierra Leone government to limit the spread of the virus have pushed these families to the very edge of survival .
“My mother and I are very happy to have received a bag of rice today," CRC student Abu told case manager Victor. "I considered it an immense blessing for our family at home. This morning there was no food in the house. We didn’t eat any food this morning. When I reach home with the rice, my mum will definitely prepare some cups of rice."
CRC parent Sallay was so grateful for the food donation. “Oh, the CRC, they always give to their families and children at the right time. To be honest, I have not cooked for the past three days. My children and I were eating gari and sometimes bread. Receiving this bag of rice is a lifesaving moment. May God bless the CRC and our sponsors. I am indeed grateful to God for this,” she said.
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