|The All Peoples Congress led government of President Ernest Koroma has continued to keep its promises to Ebola survivors. The latest was yesterday Sunday 19th March 2017 when 38 Ebola survivors in Nieni Chiefdom received their last tranche of cash in the SPRES programme initiated and signed by Social Welfare Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden last year. Some 100 million leones in bundles of crisp bank notes were handed over at the newly rented Survivors’ association Nieni office space. It was done in the presence of the United Nations personnel, other local and national dignitaries like Paramount Chief Foday Alimamy Umaru Jalloh III, traditional ruler of Nieni.
Nieni is one of the most remote chiefdoms in Sierra Leone and tends to be forgotten sometimes in social service deliveries.
However, this time, a visibly jubilant Paramount Chief Jalloh could barely hold back his emotions as he praised President Koroma to be a man of his word. He said President Koroma promised to cushion the transition period for Ebola survivors to move from being discharged patients to becoming once again self reliant. He said the post Ebola recovery priorities of President Koroma was tangible in all sectors inside his Chiefdom especially amongst survivors.
“Our President promised and today we all see that he has kept his promises. Even far away here in Nieni Chiefdom, the President has Ebola survivors here in his mind,” the P.C. remarked.
Prior to distributing the cash was the unveiling ceremony of the new office space for Koinadugu branch of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES).
It can be recalled that Koinadugu during the outbreak, was for a long time the only district without Ebola until the dreaded virus hit its Nieni Chiefdom; killing scores of residents before it was detected. As a result of the large number of survivors in Nieni, the government decided to rent the SLAES Koinadugu office space in Nieni rather than in district headquarters of Kabala which only has two survivors.
Handing over the office door keys to P.C. Jalloh for onward handing over to Ebola survivors, Hon. Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden who spent the weekend in Nieni with Ebola survivors, assured that though the 100 million cash was the last payment under that SPRES programme, “the fact that under President Koroma’s recovery priorities, we have paid for the next two years for this large office here, is evidence that the engagement between Government and survivors will continue and continue and continue”.
The Cabinet Minister expressed happiness that her focused efforts to build on the lobbying and advocacy skills of Ebola survivors, were already yielding fruits.
She said she was proud of Ebola survivors.
Meanwhile, it is a fact that currently, 12 districts in Sierra Leone including Western Rural district, now have rented office spaces for Ebola survivors plus a huge seven room executive office block rented for the national headquarters of SLAES. Only Bonthe which has no survivors, does not have an office space now rented for Ebola survivors. All other districts have tenancy agreements all signed.
“Before the end of this month, all District SLAES offices will be fully functional with equipments and stationary,” assured one of the Directors who travelled to Nieni. Hon. Minister Blyden and entourage have since returned back to Freetown last night. They left behind a hugely jubilant group of Ebola survivors.
See subsequent edition for more details and photos of the Nieni event last weekend.
By Emmanuel Kamara
Awareness Times Mar 20, 2017