Sierra Leoneans will today Thursday September 29th 2016, witness what is arguably the largest convergence of Ebola survivors in Freetown as they march through the streets of the capital to express their gratitude for what they have described as “a phenomenal transformation of our lives” through President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Post Ebola Recovery programmes. The survivors will march from Brookfields to Cotton Tree to show the world how much they appreciate all that government has done for them in recent times.
Speaking to pressmen yesterday, the Liaison Officer for the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), Glenna Beckley said such a gathering of Ebola Survivors had only taken place early in April this year when they stormed State House to register their displeasure with the manner in which they were treated at the time. “…..We were very angry at the government and we did not hide our frustration on the way and manner the Ministry of Social Welfare was treating us at that time….but following the appointment of Dr Sylvia Blyden, as Minister of Social Welfare, our hopes have been restored and we now believe we are the true heroes and heroines people said we are” she said while dispensing a soft colgate smile to express her joy.
The Ministry of Social Welfare has been spearheading the Social Protection pillar in the President’s Recovery Priorities and has been able to achieve impressive targets especially in addressing the plights of those compatriots who have become living testimonies of a disease that killed over three thousand people and devastated the country’s economy.
The Ministry has procured a brand new vehicle to enhance victims’ movement around the country while a 7 roomed office complex with a conference hall has been rented to serve as National Headquarters for Ebola Survivors. Plans are afoot to rent more offices in all the districts across the country.
Survivors in remote areas have been tracked through an online database system and served while those in 7 most affected districts are set to benefit from a livelihood skills training programme. An estimated 1,705 Survivors in the remaining 7 districts would now benefit from a whopping 1.1 Billion Leones of World Bank Funds already transferred to the Ministry of Social Welfare from UNICEF.
Recently, through the efforts of President Koroma and the Ministry of Social Welfare, the leaders of Ebola Survivors have had the opportunity of travelling to the United States and Europe – raising awareness and educating notable world audiences about their experiences during the outbreak.
Currently, the President of the Ebola Survivors Association, Yusuf Kabba is at Harvard University in Boston, USA where he called on the international community to remain engaged in supporting President’s call for assistance to post –Ebola Sierra Leone. He will fly to Washington DC this weekend to join his association’s Spokesman, Daddy Hassan Kamara and both men will be guests at the White House. They will also meet officials from other US institutions including the CDC that helped to end the Ebola crisis in the Mano River Basin. The US embassy in Freetown; USAID; Sabeti Labs of Harvard University; and Plan International have all worked hard to ensure that the survivors travel to America.
Meanwhile, the Survivors Spokesman, Daddy Hassan Kamara who has been in Europe, engaging stakeholders since September 12th was expected to have flown from Amsterdam yesterday to Freetown and will fly back on Friday to the US. “Before our Spokesman flies out again to America, he will be joining us on the streets of Freetown to joyfully thank our President” said Glenna Beckley averring; “Our President Yusuf Kabbah will be addressing us live by video from Harvard University on Thursday when we all assemble at the YWCA Hall”
It is now a fact that the lives of Ebola survivors around the country have seen tangible changes for the better and their welfare remains to be amongst priorities of the Head of State. However, this medium is informed that one of the intense focus of the President is now the welfare of Ebola orphans. The lives of survivors themselves are improving slowly due to efforts of the government but many of the children of those who did not survive the disease are now left in precarious situations.