Sierra Leone Ebola Survivors to become Entrepreneurs

By MSWGCA Media Office In keeping with aspiration of His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to improve upon lives of survivors of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) after their traumatic experience, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) in collaboration with donor partners like United Nations, is poised to embark upon transforming vulnerable and dependent survivors into self-employed formally registered entrepreneurs with a capacity to compete for business in the country.

The above emanates from key priorities of President Koroma in his 10-24 months Post-Ebola Recovery Programme. These priorities are not limited to only traditional psychosocial support, counseling and referral but also to a more sustainable reintegration of all EVD survivors in communities. The ultimate aim is to increase their socio-economic security and access to social services across the country irrespective of the literacy level.

Administrator & Registrar General hands over Business Certificate to SLAES PRO with Mr. Saio Marrah taking part.

To symbolically operationalize this concept, Wednesday June 29th 2016 saw the Administrator & Registrar General Haja Mariama Seray Kallay preside over the first ever known registration of an ‘EBOLA SURVIVOR OWNED ENTERPRISE’.

Haja Mariama Seray Kallay signed and handed over to builder mason and EVD Survivor Gibrilla Kamara,the ‘Certificate of Business Registration’ and the ‘Business Name Registration’ for a brand new business to be known as Gibrilla Kamara Construction Enterprise (GKCE). It all happened at a short but impressive ceremony at Walpole Street offices of Haja Kallay in Freetown.

Gibrilla Kamara is an EVD survivor who is also skilled in building masonry but who has never owned a business before. All his masonry work is usually done in the informal business sector. As a result, though he is a skilled builder, he could never compete for formal construction jobs. This has all now changed yesterday with not only registration of a business for him but plans for him to be trained in how to compete and keep records. He was exhilarated and ecstatic with joy as he held his documents and receipts in speechlessness.

Many more such businesses for Ebola Survivors are to be registered in the coming days, weeks and months alongside entrepreneurial training; with funding from a United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund. The Ten Billion Leones UN-MPTF Project itself is yet to be fully operationalized but this June 29th 2016 symbolic registration plus additional continuing steps to empower Gibrilla Kamara are all being 100% financed by MSWGCA Minister Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden from her personal fun

The emotional and symbolic event was witnessed by MSWGCA staff and other EVD survivors such as National Public Relations Officer of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), Mr. Daddy Hassan Kamara.

Mr. Daddy Hassan Kamara emotionally expressed on behalf of SLAES, their delight in “such a first of its kind adventure in sustainably taking us back to pre-Ebola communal life if not more”. The emotionally charged SLAES PRO almost burst into tears as he recalled disastrous effects of the disease on family lives; he stated that he personally lost 10 of his family members including both his biological parents.

According to Haja Mariama Seray Kallay, Administrator and Registrar-General of the Republic of Sierra Leone, “it is a blessing having such a foresighted Leader like President Koroma who is keenly interested in the ‘tomorrows’ of those classed as Heroes and Heroines of the fight against Ebola”. She promised the survivors that she will be there to guide them as more and more survivors are expected to become registered business owners. She implored them to upkeep to working in the formal sector, paying whatever little taxes they could and maintain good records and book-keeping.

Haja Kallay also had special words of high commendation for the female Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden whom she said has now been identified by all well-meaning citizens as a Minister in firm pursuit of an agenda to change the story of Ebola Survivors and vulnerable citizens for the better. Haja Kallay summed up by calling on stakeholders of similar status to emulate “this great woman of substance whom we are all so proud of”.

The KRA Presidential Lead at MSWGCA, Mr. Saio Marrah who represented Hon. Dr. Blyden at the occasion, assured that “this is just a symbolic manifestation of our ministry’s many sustainable interventions that we will be doing with partners especially the United Nations. To fulfill the wishes of His Excellency the President, we have many exciting plans; both locally and internationally in partnership with SLAES”.

According to Mr. Marrah, “His Excellency the President has tasked our Minister to create success stories out of these vulnerable brothers and sisters in the earliest possible time and so we at the ministry are using diverse methodologies; both nationally and internationally, to achieve this. We are on an unstoppable mission to execute the wishes of the President for our heroes and heroines to have their lives transformed”.

Awareness Times, Jun 30, 2016, 17:06

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