Hundreds of Ebola survivors yesterday gathered around the capital’s oldest tree (cotton tree) and the road leading to the seat of power (State House), carrying placards with different inscriptions on them, demanding what Government had promised them.
Awoko went to find out the reason for the large gathering of both young and old, including children who were in a peaceful protest, demanding that Government delivers the promise made to them after their discharge from the various treatment centres around the country.
Umaru Jalloh, who resides at Aberdeen, informed this reporter that he is also the Chairman for ebola survivors at Aberdeen.
He outlined the many challenges most of them are faced with since recovery, noting that some of the survivors received a package of Le265,000 including an assortment of food and non-food items to restart life, while some received Le50,000 instead of the Le500,000 they were hoping to receive as start-up.
Umaru said since then no other package was given or benefit gained for what they suffered and the side effects many of his colleague survivors have to cope with, and Government is always referring to survivors, as ‘heroes’.
Mamusu Sesay, a teenager and school going pupil, recalled her ordeal when she came in contact with the disease, explaining that she lost both parents to the epidemic and now resides with a friend at Benguema.
She added that since her recovery life has not been the same, because she no longer attends school as a result of lack of finance, and now she’s under pressure to vacate the residence of her friend due to her friend’s parents of non-approval for her (Mamusu) to continue staying with the family.
As they all spoke in choruses of wanting to be heard, another survivor with tears recalled that she used to do backyard gardening for survival, but after her bout with ebola, she now suffers from constant bone ache, which means she cannot continue doing backyard gardening, and she has a family to keep alive.
Yealie Bangura, a middle age woman narrated her story about losing her loved ones, including her husband to the epidemic and has nothing to fall back on because she also suffers from bone and muscle ache, as a result she cannot continue her house to house laundry job, as before.
At the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Deputy Minister, Madina Rahman said she was shocked to receive information that ebola survivors were on a peaceful protest around the Cotton Tree.
Questioned about the allegations made protesters, in a quick response, she outlined all the arrangements between Government and partners regarding the welfare of ebola survivors, including orphans, which is the responsibility of Don Bosco and Cap Anamur.
Madam Rahman, a nurse by profession, disclosed that government is aware of the many side effects some of the survivors have to cope with, and government in partnership with MSF and Partners in Health are responding to their health needs, but some of the survivors are still making complaints of receiving very little or no care at all including housing, which some of them are demanding “but that’s human, the more you give the more they will want,” she said.
The ministry, apart from ebola survivors, has a lot to do to improve on the health status of Sierra Leoneans and government cannot meet the needs of all 100%, but making relentless efforts to ensure that health needs are adequately addressed, she maintained.
On the issue about the Social Welfare Ministry having some funds for survivors, the deputy minister confirmed that the welfare of all citizens is in the hands of social welfare and with regards funds for survivors, Madam Rahman said the social welfare ministry will handle their affairs.
It could be recalled that not too long ago, a huge number of flood victims were relocated to the 6 Mile community in the western rural district where again so many accusations and finger pointing were made; just last week, another batch of some wounded in action soldiers stormed State House, making compensation and pension demands, and yesterday ebola survivors were demanding the package promised to them by the Government.
Someone has to act, and to act now’, said a senior citizen.
By Ade Campbell
Tuesday April 05, 2016