My Visit to Sierra Leone

Doris Carr writes movingly about her visit to Sierra Leone.

On  7  November  2015  The  World  Heath  Organisation  declared  Sierra Leone  free  of  the Ebola  virus  transmission  after  42  days  had  passed since the last Ebola patient tested negative.
After  staying  in  London  for  over  a  year  and  a  half  I  decided  to  leave London on the 18th of November 2015 to see for myself my hometown in  Sierra  Leone.  WHO  announced  that  the  Ebola  virus  had  been managed and safer to travel back to Sierra Leone,

My  first  instinct  was  to  go  home  and  help,  educate  and  assist  any groups  that  could  use  my  skills.  I  prayed  to  God  for  wisdom  and guidance.  It was heart rendering watching on TV how the country was suffering  and  seeing  the  number  of  people  been  buried.  I  lost  my nephew who was diagnosed positive.  He was a nurse and was sent to escort a patient to the provinces and on his return he was checked and a  few  days  later  he  died  in  September  2014.  The  sad  thing  was  his sister died in May 2014 from a heart condition.

There  were  lots  of  groups  involved  targeting  various  institutions helping  in  the  Ebola  after  effect.  My  daughter  and  some  friends organised  a  Miss  Sierra  Leone  pageant  to  raise  funds  to  help  fight  the disease.

Ebola is a virus which was so deadly and caused a lot of people to die. It  affected  doctors,  nurses,  families  and  children.   Many  people  were displaced  and  some  had  to  move  from  the  villages  to  the  city  of Freetown  which  has  caused  a  lot  of  overcrowding.   There  are  not enough  houses  available  for  everyone.  Water  is  in  shortage,  there  is  a lack  of  electricity  throughout.   The  number  of  people  in  the  city  is alarming.   Children  did  not  attend  school  for  nearly  a  year  and  now spend a term + before been promoted to the next class. The university and all educational institutions were brought to a standstill.

Whilst  the  Ebola  crisis  was  affecting  the  world,  many  Sierra  Leoneans in  the  diaspora  organised  church  services  to  pray  for  the  country, luncheons  sales  and  dances  to  create  funds  for  the  people  of  Sierra Leone.

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My  personal  contribution  as  a  Christian  was  to  get  involved  by attending  to  some  functions.  I  collected  clothes,  shoes,  bags  and provisions  from  friends  and  relatives  which were  shipped  to  Sierra Leone. I distributed too few I know personally.

I  met  a  friend  who  went  to  organise  feeding  and  handing  over  an amount of £1,500 towards the construction of the roof of the Freetown Cheshire Home at Kissy. Many people pledged money and services. Most of the children in this home were handicapped disabled and displaced. There was an Ebola girl who was abandoned and seemed confused and helpless.  I fell in love with her. There were others who loved dancing and we had artists performing free. The kids danced and requested all the  popular  stars  to  perform.   This  they  did.  It  was  organised  by someone  I  know  personally.  I  have  photos  to  show  of this  function. This  home  brought  back  memories  of  my  late  brother  who  was  born
with  polio  and  was  placed  in  the  Cheshire  Home  in  BO.   (  Town  in Sierra Leone).

I visited some schools to see what help and assistant I can give. Whilst visiting my old secondary school, Methodist Girls High School, I had the privilege to see the principal, who gave me a tour of the work done in the school.  I met a girl who was looking for a space in the school but would not be accepted because she had left school 5 years ago through pregnancy  and  was  trying  to  return  back  to  do  her  6th form  exams. As the  principals  could  not  take  her  and  listened  to  her  concerns  I  gave the girl my phone number and asked her to see me personally the next day.  Bright  and  early  the  next  day  she  came  and  I  assessed  her  and decided  to  send  her  to  a  private  institution  to  continue  her  studies. I pay  for  her  monthly  and  hopefully  she  should  take  her  exams  next year.  She  keeps  in  contact  regularly  and  sends  me  details  about  her progress.

As  the  Ebola  crisis  was  just  over  I  was  scared  to  go  to  places  but watched  TV  to  see  how  people  in  the  country  were  suffering.  I  took down details and contact numbers. I visited Waterloo where the British team treated Ebola patients and where the hospital was built.

Ebola  has  left  a  painful  legacy  for  survivors  in  Sierra  Leone.   Ebola  is gone but the Sierra Leone health system is on its knees.
I have decided to continue visiting as often as possible. I want to help the  children  in  the  Cheshire  Home,  Children  Hospital  and  St  George’s Home  for  the  elderly.  I  returned  to  London  again  at  the end  of February 2016.
DORIS CARR
26 May 2016