Sierra Leone News: Orphaned kids build new lives after mudslide

Seven-year-old Ali Mansaray must build a new life for himself after surviving the mudslide and flooding that killed almost 500 people, including his parents, last week. Now, he is being looked after by his grandmother, Emma Mansaray, who was spared because she was sleeping at a friend’s home the night of the disaster.
“The boy’s mother and father are dead. Zainab and Idrisa gave birth to him, both of them are dead now, even our neighbours,” said a grieving Emma Mansaray.
Ali is among hundreds of children who have lost one or both parents to the mudslides. The children now line up for food rations at temporary shelters, with few hopes that any survivors will be found among the estimated 600 people missing.
Charities in Sierra Leone are grappling with how to help the hundreds of children who have lost parents.
“It’s a real knock for the country so soon after Ebola. We didn’t expect to hear the ambulance sirens and see people in biohazard suits again in the streets of Freetown,” said the UNICEF spokesman in Sierra Leone, John James. “Sierra Leone has a young population, and this will have an impact on the lives of children and adolescents for decades to come … People here are resilient, but we’ll be working hard to trace the extended families of orphaned children and ensure the successful integration of children.”
The government says some 4,000 children have been affected, and that psychosocial therapists are needed for them before schools reopen in September.
Aid groups such as World Hope International are providing help to prevent orphaned children from further trauma, including child traffickers seeking to exploit the situation in Freetown.
UNICEF says about 15% of the 7,000 people registered as affected by the disaster are under the age of 5. Forty percent are between the ages of 6 and 18.
Awoko Monday August 28, 2017.

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