Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs praises CRC for their contributions in nation building
The Sierra Leone Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Affairs (MSWGA) is the government agency in charge of ensuring that vulnerable children and people are cared for appropriately. As a child welfare organization, the Child Rescue Centre participates in monthly meetings held by the MSWGA. These meetings allow MSWGA representatives and the leaders of various organizations involved in the care of vulnerable children like the CRC, Joshua Child Care, and SOS Children’s Home to share information, best practices, and to receive updates.
At a regular meeting held in October, the MSWGA commended the CRC for the work it has done in the areas of child protection, education, health, child safety, final reunification of children in the residential program, and the microfinance program.
“The Child Rescue Centre has been very proactive in addressing child welfare issues in the Bo District,” says Michael James, Senior Social Service Officer in Charge of Trafficking. James shared that the Ministry considers the CRC an exemplary child welfare program, particularly in the fairness and lack of bias of its intake practices. He particularly cited the case of Joseph Deen, a deaf child that the CRC and Mercy stepped in to help, reflecting that the CRC does not discriminate against any child in need regardless of circumstance.
Written by Dr. Laura Horvath, Helping Children Worldwide Program Development Specialist
In August, newly-elected Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio announced the launch of the Free Quality Education Programme (FQEP) for 1.6 million primary and secondary children across Sierra Leone, with an increased budget allocation of 21% of the National Budget in August of this year, up from 12.5% in 2016. The first phase of the program went into effect on September 17th, and President Bio has said that the program will take five years to fully implement, though the government has committed to funding this program for at least 10 years. An FQEP Coordinator shared with Sierra Leone News that the government has paid tuition subsidies to over 4,000 schools amounting to 28 million leones.
There are three types of schools in Sierra Leone, private, government, and government-supported. All schools in Sierra Leone require that students pay tuition and various school fees. These can include fees for furniture, classroom materials, extra classes, and other supports the school needs to function. Additionally, families must cover the cost of required uniforms, textbooks and all other learning materials. The first phase of the FQEP provides only tuition, a few exercise books (composition notebooks), pens and pencils; and this only applies to schools that are either government or government-assisted schools. Even these schools must apply to receive FQEP benefits, and some schools are still awaiting government approval. Some of the CRC students are enrolled in schools to which the program does not apply, but these students will be transferred to schools that do in the fall of 2019. Kindergarten is not covered by the program, nor are private schools, so the CRC is bearing the tuition costs for these students. Government-supplied exercise books and other necessary learning materials are also in limited supply, so once these supplies run out, the remainder must be provided for by the parents (or in our case, the CRC).
The rollout of the plan has not been without its challenges. The promise of tuition-free education has caused enrollment to skyrocket, and many schools have been forced to turn students away for lack of space. Teachers in Sierra Leone sometimes go without a paycheck at all for months at a time; new teachers may not show up on the government rosters for up to two years - and cannot be paid until they do. Although the plan stipulates an increase in teachers and teacher pay, it has not been clear about how or when this will be addressed, or how schools are to manage increased enrollments and higher student/teacher ratios, and according to the Sierra Leone News, teachers report no change in their pay.
“The government is collecting millions of dollars for this program from donors, but we, the teachers don’t see any extra,” one teacher shared with Sierra Leone News. Parents report being asked to pay additional fees to support teachers whose names are not yet on the government payroll (since the government does not pay teachers until they are officially on the payroll, and this can take up to two years). “Some schools are not yet phased in,” says CRC Director, Mohamed Nabieu. “It’s also important to understand that ‘Free Education’ is not universal. There are many villages that don’t even have a school.” The CRC staff reports that the increases in class sizes have led to the addition of new fees as well. Some of the schools attended by CRC students are now asking for “furniture fees,” to help to cover the cost of desks for newly enrolled students.
An additional wrinkle has developed that directly impacts UMC schools, even those that are government-supported. “Not all schools apply,” explains Mohamed Nabieu, “and it’s not clear which schools apply and which do not.” For example, according to the United Methodist News, “while the new UMC school in Kabala awaited government approval and funding, all but 12 students transferred to government approved schools so their parents would not have to pay fees for administrative costs.” Bishop Yambasu acted quickly and was able to provide funding to cover these fees for the Kabala school, but it seems that many religious schools, even those that are government-supported, have not yet been approved for the program, and may not be.
In related news, on November 28, US Ambassador to Sierra Leone Maria Brewer spoke at the launch of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education School Lunch Project in Kabala. In partnership with USDA and Catholic Relief Services, this project seeks to aid the government of Sierra Leone in scaling up a national school lunch Program. The project will invest $25 million to expand the provision of daily school meals to nearly 70,000 children, as well as support improved school infrastructure, training and literacy over a period of four years (Sierra Leone has a total of 1,600,000 students currently enrolled in primary and secondary education). The package will include capacity building of teachers, rehabilitation of primary schools, construction of water wells and boreholes. This program is focused on areas in the northern part of the country.
While having the government provide free tuition to approved schools is extremely helpful, it doesn’t cover all the education-related costs associated with school. In addition to providing tuition for CRC students in non-approved schools and those enrolled in kindergarten, the CRC continues to provide school uniforms, textbooks, learning materials and all school fees for all of the students in the program. The CRC also provides others kinds of educational support to students in the programs, including tutoring, exam prep classes, life skills and other types of training, computer classes and workshops, career and guidance counseling. Parenting classes and workshops are also provided to parents of students in CRC programs, and extremely vulnerable families are encouraged to enroll in the CRC’s microfinance program for basic economic and budget training and the opportunity to receive a microloan to launch or improve a small business. Case Managers and Counselors provide ongoing support to students as well through home and school visits, and both individual and family counseling opportunities.
First-time mother Fanta Kargbo, was only 18 years old when she enrolled in Mercy Hospital’s Prenatal Program at one of the outreach team’s trips to her village in Bandajuma in July. Ever since then, she has attended each monthly outreach to check the progress of her pregnancy, and was encouraged to give birth at Mercy when the time came.
She arrived at Mercy one morning in October, experiencing labor pains (which had been going on for some time). She was suffering from prolonged labor and finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy after 5 pm. According to the Mercy’s State Certified Midwife, Christiana Tommy, “it was not easy because she is a first time delivery. She was having trouble pushing and we had to encourage her. We thank God for her being at Mercy where we were able to provide her so much assistance. There were five of us helping her!”
When asked what the fate of Fanta and her baby would have been had she attempted to give birth in the village, the normally cheerful midwife became unusually solemn. “It would have been a problem because she was having difficulty pushing and she needed help. They would have forced her to push and that could have led to a fistula or even the death of the baby. We were able to encourage her, give her a catheter, and stitch up her tear so that she did not get fistula or any other problem.”
Christiana is referring to a basic lack of qualified personnel in the villages. While a village may have a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), this person is someone who likely has very little to no formal education (not even primary school), but has some basic training in childbirth, and can deliver under normal, uncomplicated circumstances. Many of the village clinics do not have midwives or TBAs, and may only be staffed by a nurse not necessarily trained in childbirth.
Fanta, clearly still exhausted the next day, was also very excited to welcome her new baby into the world. She could not stop smiling as she shared, “I am okay now, thanks to Mercy. I am so happy that my baby is safe."
Promise Scholar Musa Massaquoi recently graduated Njala University with a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Social Work. Musa lost his mother at a very young age and was raised by his father, a subsistence farmer, in a village near Bo. Education was always a problem, but he persevered through the obstacles posed by extreme poverty and achieved his dream of graduating from university.
Child Rescue Centre Case Manager Victor Kanu talked to Musa about his journey to achieve his dream of getting an education.
"Since I was schooling in the village, things were very challenging for me. I lost my mother when I was in Class 2. I continued to struggle until I sat to the National Primary School Examination (NPSE), wherein I scored very good grades. Upon enrollment into Junior Secondary, my education became a problem. My father depended on subsistence farming and had other children and relatives to care for.
I was driven from school for not paying the fees. I was really ashamed and felt dehumanized in the eyes of my colleagues.
In JSS 1, I was driven from school for not paying the fees. I was really ashamed and felt dehumanized in the eyes of my colleagues. It was through the merciful grace of God that I was noticed by the CRC during their assessment. I was recommended by one of the church members, and later enrolled into the program.
As a recipient of a Promise Scholarship, the CRC created several positive impacts to help me actualize my dream of success towards my education. The CRC changed my life through their moral ethics and Christian values, helping me become obedient, dedicated, honest, open-mind, humble, and hardworking, both in academic and other facets of life.
I learned good judgment, responsibility, and good study habits. The CRC trained and guided me to be an upstanding citizen with moral values, trust, and dedication to serving my people.
I am convinced that life without the support of other people is of no importance. This will really come to play when that individual is yet to achieve his or her dream, and their chances are limited. This is very common in Sierra Leone. I happened to be one of those many children that felt the pinch of poverty in Sierra Leone. The CRC saw fit to invest in me, as I went from high school to university.
And today I am one of the flag bearers of change in Sierra Leone and the world at large. This opportunity brings me to the forefront of building my human resource capacity. This is very essential in developing any state. Becoming a social worker today is a blessing in disguise. And if there are any other humanitarian organizations that have the same vision in Sierra Leone, they are going to make a sound meaning in our society and the world at large.
Dreams die slowly when opportunities are absent.
The CRC provided financial assistance for relevant learning materials, supported lodging for the first year of my university education, counseling support, and medical services.
My advice to colleagues, brothers and sisters: to focus on their academic work to maintain this wonderful opportunity, as many others are yearning to enjoy such a chance. They should be dedicated, hardworking, obedient, God-fearing and honest in all their undertakings, and they should think of their background, so as to step forward to completely change the lives of their families and communities of origin. They might be the only hope."
On Saturday, July 14th, the Child Rescue Centre hosted a big multi-purpose event for many of the students enrolled in the CRC programs. All the kids who attended were measured for school uniforms, and also had the opportunity to write to their sponsors. And of course, there was lots of time for sports, games, and socializing!
Uniforms are mandatory in Sierra Leone schools, and the expense is just one more obstacle in the way of poor families who want their children to get an education instead of going to work. The Child Rescue Centre provides each enrolled student with the proper school uniform, shoes, belt, backpack, books and school supplies, without which they would not be allowed to attend school.
There are nearly 100 schools approved for attendance by students enrolled in the CRC, and every school has a different color uniform. It's a marvelous sight every morning to see the sidewalks and pathways of Bo fill with children garbed in every hue of blue, green, red, gold, burgundy, pink, white and brown as they head off to school. The tailors are going to be very busy over the next two months!
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them.
On June 26, 2018, the Child Rescue Centre held a solemn, yet joyful ceremony to celebrate the reunification of the twenty remaining residential students, who went to live with their "forever families."
The CRC is in the forefront of the international movement to move children out of orphanages, as UNICEF and other child-focused organizations across the globe recognize that caring families are far better at raising emotionally and mentally healthy children than institutions.
The event was attended by the children and their families, the CRC staff, Bishop John Yambasu, Mrs. Olivia Fonnie, and representatives from SOS Children's Village and the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Even though there were some emotional moments, the overwhelming sentiment was joyful anticipation for the children as they go to live with their "forever families." The parents were assured of the organization’s support for their children, who will remain enrolled as CRC students, and come to the CRC compound to attend activities and stay connected.
The following dignitaries and honored guests spoke:
Bishop John K. Yambasu, Sierra Leone Annual Conference
This is an occasion for thanksgiving to God after almost 18 years. From the very humble beginnings near the market, up to this time. Until we appreciate ourselves and what we have done, we cannot appreciate God. I really want to appreciate CRC staff, you are nothing but the best. We have gone through so many transitions together. Children have come and gone, staff have come and gone. It has been a struggle. Many people when they come to a job, come to serve themselves. But this is not correct. We need to serve humanity and serve God.
We are not really closing the residence. We will still maintain a transit home for emergency cases that the Ministry of Social Welfare can recommend to us. This will only be a short-term and temporary transit home.
It is a blessing to be a parent, and it comes with so much responsibility. I give these caregivers the advice to treat the children in your care as if they were your own children. If someone looks at your family, they should not be able to know who is your real biological child and who is not. With love, we will come to help empower you to be the best parents you can be.
I want to say thanks and appreciation to Social Welfare. They have been working with us since the beginning. We are smaller than some of the other NGOs. But we are a strong faith-based organization, and we became the best child care organization.
Nobody can do this work alone. I want to thank all the staff, the UMC staff, Olivia, Rev Charley, and our partners at HCW. All of this started with me and Rev. Tom Berlin. Then we started getting one partner church, than two, and now we have 17 partner churches. I want to thank them so much for all their support over the years. It is really not easy for them to raise money for us, they work so hard. They are the only ones supporting us and we are so grateful to them.
We have had some bitter experiences with reunification in the past. We used to have the children in the home for so long. They would stay until they were 18 years old. Some came in at 7 years old and would spend 10, 12 years in the home. Once they left they had a hard time because outside there was no control. They were not able to adjust well and they fell into trouble.
Of course, some really did well. This man here, 18 years ago, was one of you here, one of the first children in this program. Now he is the Director. Honestly, I don’t want to embarrass him, but we have had 5 or 6 Directors and he has been the best one. He takes this as his family, as his home and he wants only the best for it. Its not about money.
Many of the children here have gone on to do great things: doctors, architects, and many work here at CRC. That’s the profit we get. That is the greatest benefit we get from this work, to see all the wonderful things the children will do.
Mabel Mustapha, Reunification Chairperson and Education Manager
Today is a very important day in the history of our organization. This is the last reunification ceremony. The children will finally be reunited with their families. There have been many reunifications, the first one was in 2012, but this will be the last. For me, I am happy because we started this two years ago with training and preparing the families. So we know the parents and the children are both ready for this because we have helped to build a bond for these families.
Olivia Fonnie, CRC Supervisory Chair
I would like to speak directly to the parents. Because I am a parent and I know how difficult it can be. Please, let us have patience with them. One day your child may come to you and ask for something that you do not have in your hand. Please be patient with them and gently explain to them that things are different in your home and that you don’t have everything they might have at CRC. Use your stipend wisely and for the benefit of your children for their schooling. Thank you for taking them, God will surely bless you.
Mohamed Nabieu, CRC Director
Anything God asks you to do, do it to the best of your ability. Do it so you can sleep well at night with a clear conscience that you did your best. We made sure that all of you are biologically related. The best thing for a child is to be raised in the home with their real relatives.
I am proud of where I came from, I am so thankful for all the CRC has done for me. After the war, I was separated from my family and there was no choice other than to go to the orphanage. Up to date, I still struggle to know my extended family because I never was able to connect with them. It really bothers me.
80% - 90% of children in orphanages have a living parent. They go into orphanages because of poverty. Why are you doing something for somebody when they can do it themselves? Children need to know their roots and be with their forever family. Parents need to have the opportunity to raise their own children.
Your children are precious to us but they need to be with you. We will continue supporting them so you can be a family. You are going to have challenges. Here in the home there is a strict schedule. There is a time for everything. There are many rules. It will be different for the children to be in the community. We are moving our focus from an individual child to the entire family. This is so the family can support all the children and become sustainable and move out of poverty.
Hawa Koker, Director of SOS Children's Village
I want to congratulate the CRC for the bold step they have taken in this direction. I want to thank all these partners. We realize that we need to make these changes. Honestly, we are not on the right track. This poverty issue is really true for us in Sierra Leone and it makes children come to the orphanage. We need to work together to share data.
I agree with the Director about the best place for a child. Its not easy for people to embrace it. We are struggling. We have 150 children in the village. Its just not easy. I know we are resistant to change but this change is the best for the children. Many children in our program have families. Their families cannot even visit them without a pass. Some family homes are so close to the village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
Some family homes are so close to the [SOS] village that the children can wave over the fence to their parents. But their parents won’t wave back, because they are afraid of the children being taken out of the program.
We have started allowing the children to go home to their families on some weekends or holidays. It is not forced. We have 150 children and on those weekends maybe only 5 children will stay back in the village. So that means that obviously SOS is not the place for them to be. If you keep somebody for 18 years they have to come back to us. They don’t know anything about being outside.
We need to continuously check ourselves and see if it is in the interest of the child. When the children come back to SOS after being with their families, they cry. You can never replace blood. Blood is blood. Let's join together and do the best we can for the children. We are creating an empire for a small number and when they mix with other children, they see them as nothing. Differences are there. Poverty is not an excuse.
Patrick Bangura, Director Ministry of Social Welfare
The best place for the child is in the home. Orphanages are the worst place for them. They are not able to adjust back. We appreciate the steps of CRC that they are following the laws. I am really happy to hear about the interim care home because we have critical cases. Recently CRC helped us with one of those and we are so grateful. Sierra Leone does not have orphans. There always has to be a relative, an auntie or an uncle. You just need to trace them.
Aminata Mansary, President, Children’s Voice
I am happy for CRC because it has helped my educational life and it has helped my spiritual life. I am sure CRC will still support me and help me to grow and learn. I want to say thank you to the staff and thank you to my brothers and sisters.
Sallay Mattia, Caregiver
We are so happy because of this. Thank you for taking care of our children. Thank you for teaching us and training us. We are so happy when the children come to visit us and stay with us. We are excited to have them at home now. We are happy to have your support and thank you all.
Abduali Dakowa, CRC student
On behalf of the children, I want to thank everyone for all they have done for us. We thank the staff for taking good care of us and helping us to learn. We thank the partners for everything. We are very happy and love you all.
Musu Mansary, Caregiver
I am so happy that the children are coming to stay with me. It is very good. They are nice girls and I am glad they will be with me. Thank you to CRC for helping us.
By Clarence Roy-Macaulay | AP March 26 at 4:19 PM
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court on Monday approved the election commission’s request to delay Tuesday’s runoff presidential vote until the weekend after the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations.
The commission applied for more time once the West African nation’s high court vacated the injunction that was granted Saturday after a member of the ruling party filed a petition citing irregularities in the first round on March 7. The opposition called the petition a delay tactic.
The runoff election is now set for Saturday.
Tensions have risen in the nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling All Peoples Congress party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won the first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which took 43.3 percent to the ruling party’s 42.7 in the first round, has not held the presidency since 2007.
Opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military leader, on Sunday said his party would not accept a delay in the vote. He also accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling party of “pushing us to the point of chaos in the country.” Koroma has served two terms and is barred by the constitution from running again.
Bio, who is making his second bid for the presidency after losing in 2012, stands to pick up votes from the 14 candidates eliminated in the first round.
(First published by The Washington Post, 3/26/2018)
Sierra Leone held a general election on Wednesday, March 7th to elect a new president, parliament, and local councils. None of the presidential candidates received 55% of the vote as required by election law, so March 27, 2018 has been set for the runoff date. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on March 13 that former foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara will face Julius Maada Bio, a former military head of state.
Kamara who leads the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) came in second after final results of the March 7 polls were declared. Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won the first round with close to 1.1 million votes representing 43%.
The other two main candidates Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana got 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. There were 12 other minor candidates.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. The vote to replace him has largely been peaceful, a triumph for a country that lived through a brutal, diamond-fueled civil war in the 1990s.
The winner faces a huge task trying to kick start the West African country’s economy, which after recovering from the war has been ravaged by low prices for iron ore, its main export, and an Ebola epidemic.
Mercy Hospital celebrated its 10 year anniversary on October 17, 2017! A few of Mercy's key staff shared their thoughts about the hospital's past and future:
Dr. Kanneh, Chief Medical Officer “I feel delighted and proud to be part of the Mercy team on the 10th anniversary of Mercy Hospital. It has been really challenging over the years, challenges that we have faced with courage, determination, and hard work and have been able to succeed. We have proposed as a way of expanding Mercy Hospital to higher heights, by constructing an operating theatre. This is ongoing and thankfully it will be completed soon. Then we will have the opportunity of treating maternity cases who would otherwise be referred outside to other hospitals. Other surgical cases that we have turned away previously will also be able to be treated at our hospital. That will bring Mercy Hospital up to an even greater level. We appreciate and thank our partners and UMC annual conference for providing this facility to us and we cannot thank them enough for this wonderful duration period of the hospital.”
Jinnah Lahai, Hospital Administrator “I am happy that we have made it to 10 years and that I am part of this team. I am excited about Mercy becoming even more equipped and standardized as a hospital and with the new OR becoming one of the most effective hospitals in Sierra Leone. We are really on a good footing to become a very well-known hospital in Sierra Leone.“
Augusta Kpanabum, Head Matron “I just want to thank the almighty God for making us be alive to see Mercy’s ten years. We give thanks to God and the donors. We really want to appreciate all of the partners. I have been at Mercy for 3 years and Mercy has really made a big step forward already since I came. I am anxious to see the next step of Mercy with the opening of the OR. It is going to really make our work so much more effective to help those in the community. We can be very proud of having competent staff for the smooth running of the hospital. The outreach department has really improved and we have two wonderful CHOs that are working very hard to improve Mercy. We pray that the good Lord will continue to strengthen us all to continue the work.
George Mbayo, Lab Supervisor “I thank God so much for my life being at Mercy Hospital since the opening. I am so proud of Mercy, it is like my baby. In the beginning of Mercy onto now, things are still moving in the right direction. There has been much improvement. Our plans and strategies have been there from the beginning and are really being implemented well. A vision that I want the hospital to move towards is getting an x-ray and dental unit to add up to our departments. The OR is about to finish so we are excited for that and the possibility of adding more staff to increase the abilities of Mercy."
We are so proud of our dedicated staff, and deeply grateful to the many generous donors who have helped Mercy become an essential resource for excellent and compassionate health care in the Bo community and surrounding villages.
Bishop John Yambasu made the following statement to the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone regarding the flooding and mudslide in Freetown that occurred on August 14, in which hundreds lost their lives and thousands more were displaced. Bishop Yambasu is the United Methodist Bishop of Sierra Leone and President of the CCSL.
In the early hours of Monday August 14, 2017, parts of the capital city Freetown were overtaken by massive flooding and mud slides that led to the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property. Communities worst affected are Regent, and Kamayama in the west and Kissy and Waterloo in the East end of the city. In the last 24 hours, the Council of Churches has received many phone calls, e-mails and letters from our many partners around the world expressing their love and prayers for us at yet another very difficult time in our history of tragedies as a nation.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone expresses our thanks and appreciation to our many partners around the world who have made phone calls, e-mails and letters to share their concern, love and prayers for us.
As the largest Christian organization in the country, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone laments the present spate of disaster in Freetown and mourns the death of hundreds of poor and innocent people who lost their lives in this needless and preventable disaster. In the same vein, we empathize with the thousands of people including mainly women and children who survived the disaster and now live under life threatening conditions with no place they could call home.
All Sierra Leoneans are aware that the entire city of Freetown lies below the slopes of surrounding hills that span east to west. Year after year, there is massive destruction of natural vegetation for farming, fuel wood and for building houses. In addition, stone mining has become a huge profession in the city. Through these activities, the soil is laid bare making it vulnerable to excessive run off water and mud slides in the raining season. Freetown goes through this every year with people losing their lives.
This year's flooding in many parts of the city and mud slide in the Regent community in the western part of the city is unprecedented. Never in the history of the city have we experienced such magnitude of sickening and horrifying disaster with houses buried, whole families missing and bodies discovered with dismembered parts. We continue to receive staggering information on the number of people that have so far died as a result of the flood and mudslide. However we are of the opinion that up to one thousand people or more may have already died with about 600 people still unaccounted for. Some of the unaccounted are still buried under rubble while others have been swept away by the floods.
Up to 5 PM yesterday Tuesday, volunteer rescue teams were still recovering and transporting corpses to the mortuary in the limited ambulances available. At the nation’s premier Connaught hospital in Freetown, hundreds of corpses are piled at the mortuary for public view and identification.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone note with gratitude the several good efforts made by volunteer rescue youth groups and civil societies who placed their lives on the line rescuing people and recovering bodies from the rubble and the flood waters. These gallant humanitarian efforts by our youth deserve recognition.
We recognize the great contribution made by the Red Cross to provide vehicles to convey the dead to the mortuary and survivors to the nearest health facilities. We also recognize and acknowledge the role played by the Government of Sierra Leone, the media, and civil society.
We give thanks to God for those who survived the disaster, and pray for the many others who lost their lives. As a nation, our most urgent responsibility now is to be in solidarity with the thousands of those who survived the disaster.
We therefore call on government and the City Council of Freetown as a matter of urgency;
More especially, our hearts go to families and all those who survived the disaster. We stand by them and support them with our prayers, presence and assistance to help them go through this period of pain, trauma and grief with dignity. I encourage you all not to be afraid of the future. The Lord is with you. (Numbers 14:9)
Long live our beloved Sierra Leone. Long live “peace, freedom and justice” in our Land.
BISHOP JOHN K. YAMBASU
PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN SIERRA LEONE