By Foday Moriba Conteh

At a well-attended ceremony held on Friday 23rd July, 2021 the One Family People (OFP) Organization turned the sod for the construction of an Orphanage Home for Children Living with Disabilities at Grafton in the Western Rural District to be known as the New Mahanahim Orphanage Home.

In her welcome statement, Founder of the Mahanahim Orphanage Home, Aunty Melrose, expressed appreciation to the  Minister of Social Welfare, the Polio Challenged Association, Dorothy Springer Trust and Rev. Jalloh for their continuous support.

She commended the Minister of Social Welfare, Madam Baindu Dassama, for her efforts towards championing the issues relating to persons living with disabilities in the country, adding that since she took over, the Ministry has been very active in promoting the welfare of persons with disabilities in the country.

Aunty Melrose was recently recognized as one of the most 50 Influential Women in Sierra Leone because of her good work towards disable children in the country.

Delivering a statement, the Director of Programmes of One Family People (OFP), Hadiatou Diallo, stated that over the years her organization has been working with the Ministry of Social Welfare in empowering children living with disabilities across the country, stating that during this time of their partnership they discovered that many children with disabilities are suffering, some were abandoned by their families, some having multiple disabilities of which in most cases they end up living on the streets.

Madam Hadiatu further applauded the Founder of Mahanahim Orphanage Home, Madam Melrose Kamara, for her good work, courage and passion to care for children that have been neglected by their families noting that 90% of these children are not going to school as a result of their disabilities disclosing that the new building will be having seven (7) rooms with an office, a training room and social workers to help the children. She said originally it was envisioned to be a four room building but now it will be extended, including quarters for the boys and girls.

She revealed that Mahanahim was a Home for disable children established by Madam Melrose and since its inception she has been working tirelessly in order to take care of these unfortunate children in her Home, adding that due to an increase in the number of disable children who wanted to access the home and the fact that the space is small it can no longer accommodate all of those children.

She added that it is against such a backdrop that they decided to engage the Ministry of Social Welfare which supported the idea because it would be a Home for all including children living with polio and other forms of handicap as they cannot take care of themselves, they need people, they need good accommodation saying after the completion of the building it will house forty (40) disable children to live decent lives.

Founder of the Mahanahim Orphanage Home, Madam Melrose Kamara, said that her dream has come true to see these children live happy lives stating that is what she has been praying for over the years pointing out that over the years they have been struggling to have a structure more especially for children who could not work stating that a lot of disable children in her care lost their lives because of lack of good accommodation.

She disclosed that the turning of the sod for the construction of the Home has put smile on their faces as that will give the children a good place to sleep.

She ended by showering praises on the One Family People and the Ministry of Social Welfare for such a laudable venture which she described as not only important to them but very timely and assured them that after completion of the Home it will be used for its intended purpose.

A representative from the Polio Challenge Association, Sylvanus thanked the Minister and One Family People for their tireless efforts towards the development of children living with disabilities in the country.

He said POCA was established in 1992 to promote disable persons in order to be useful and productive citizens in society and that in 2004, the Founder of Mahanahim Orphanage Home, Madam Melrose Kamara, approached them with a vision to help abandoned children with disabilities especially those with severe conditions and the Association supported the initiative of which they signed an MOU to provide a space for them and it would be a unit for the Polio Challenge Association saying they are happy, willing and will continue to collaborate to rescue the lives of disable children.

Giving her keynote address, the Minister of Social Welfare, Baindu Dassama, expressed appreciation to the One Family People and partners for the construction of the said Ultra-modern Home for children living with disabilities.

She noted that the intending structure is for children who are severely suffering from disabilities and abandoned by their families. The Minister appreciated Madam Melrose for her good work and cordial relationship with the children. She said she admires the work Madam Melrose is doing because it is very difficult to raise these children especially when they are not her biological children.

The Minister tapped the One Family People on their back for their tremendous working over the years, adding that the organization was able to raise the funds for the construction of the said Home and that they have been very transparent in terms of accountability.

She maintained that on behalf of his Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio and the people of Sierra Leone she is turning the sod for the construction of the Home and assured them that the Government of Sierra Leone, through her Ministry, will continue to support such initiatives

Madam Baindu Dassama used the opportunity to call on members of the public to at least pay a visit to the Home when completed so that they can put smiles on the faces of children as a way of showing their contribution towards nation-building.

Courtesy of the Calabash of 28 July 2021

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