Sierra Leone News: Being a Survivor is not a crime- Brima S Kanu

News AwokoReintegrating Survivors into their various communities after going through treatment is one of the greatest challenges faced by Government, Local and International Non-Governmental Organisations, as most people perceive them as outcasts.

It could be recalled that since the outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic deadly ebola virus disease in the country, there have been over 3,500 (three thousand five hundred) survivors country-wide from various treatment centres.

In trying to create an easy access of these survivors into their different communities, the Network of HIV/AIDS Positive in Sierra Leone (NETHIPS) with funds from Christian Aid, have started engaging stakeholders on the action plans in addressing such issues.

“Being a Survivor is not a crime as there are various instruments which frown against discrimination including the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone,” says the Programme Officer of NETHIPS, Brima Sorie Kanu, during a meeting with stakeholders at the Moa Wharf Community.

He disclosed that his organisation is charged with the responsibility of providing care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country with the aim of stopping stigmatisation and discrimination against such persons, explaining that is why they decided to engage the people of Moa Wharf as both HIV and ebola, share similar trends of discrimination and stigma.

The project Officer maintained that survivors should be seen as heroes and heroines in the various communities as they were bold enough to come out and go to the treatment centres for ailment, adding that “what would have happened if these survivors had refused to go for treatment at that material time. More people would have been infected. A situation which no one is praying for” he recalled.

Mr. Kanu states that people living with HIV/AIDS are doing well, despite the sickness as they respond to treatment regularly which should be the same for the survivors, explaining that being a survivor does not exempt one from participating in nation building as demonstrated in participating in the social mobilisation exercise by most survivors across the country.

Speaking on Stigmatisation and discrimination, Joseph Korbah, who was part of the NETHIPS team to Moa Wharf, disclosed that sickness comes from God, so why are people discriminating against others for becoming sick due to certain sickness, adding that most people die because of stigma and discrimination and not ebola.

Speaking on behalf of the Moa Wharf community during the stakeholders meeting, one of the Section Chiefs, Pa Alimamy Konek Kapen, expressed thanks and appreciation to the team from NETHIPS for their timely intervention, maintaining that his community name is high up in terms of stigma and discrimination presently.

He disclosed that times without number, he and his colleague Chiefs are receiving complaints from their people for being discriminated against, wherever they go, as some people will even refuse to sell food and non-food items to them because of the community they are residing, which was not part of their intention.

The Section Chief states that in trying to secure their community from the reoccurrence of the disease, they have instituted over 30 check points where people will wash their hands and their temperature taken before leaving and entering the community, disclosing that presently they have three Survivors who they are refusing to accept in their community simply because they returned without a discharge certificate from a treatment centre.

By Alhaji M. Kamara

Monday May 18, 2015
Courtesy Awoko

Sierra Leone News: 22 yrs old survivor caters for 6 ebola orphans

orphansWOMANA 22 year-old pupil at the Kissi Bendu Secondary School in Kailahun District, Sarah Tamba, who is also a survivor of the ebola virus disease, is presently looking after six orphans whose parents died as a result of the disease.

According to Sarah Tamba, who is the eldest and now the bread winner of the family, their mother Sia Jimmy contracted the disease in May 2014 and died within a week and their father Sahr died later after getting the disease from their mother.

She maintained that, since the loss of their parents, they are yet to receive support from their relatives, who abandoned them and without social protection from the Government, disclosing that the rest of the children are in primary school, with four of the boys attending the Spiritual Life Primary School and two girls are in the Tollie Primary School.

“I am 22 years old and I take care of six (6) Ebola orphans. It’s so hard for me, as the situation makes me unhappy every day!’ What the future holds for us is uncertain, at the moment, considering our present situation. I have no sustainable source of income to enable me support myself and the siblings,” she recalled.

According to the Country Director of SEND Foundation, Joseph Ayamga, with support from OSIWA and weitblick Germany, the Kailahun Women in Governance Network/SEND, supported Sarah and her siblings with food and non-food items containing school materials such as school bags, water bottles, books, pens and pencils, and more condiments.

He disclosed that for the past three (3) months, they have received monthly stipends of Le 200,000 (two hundred thousand Leones) to enable them meet their basic needs such as salt, rice, maggi and others just to keep life going, explaining that “this support will continue for another three (3) months.

The Kailahun Women in Governance Network/SEND staff are meeting with the family on a monthly basis to provide psycho-social counselling, motivate and to help them understand the negative consequences of the disease and how to make choices that will benefit them.

“Sarah, as part of the foster families package was trained on childcare and support while the children are encouraged to continue their schooling in order to enable them empower themselves for life and to live responsibly” he recalled.

“Unfortunately, the future of these children is unpredictable as in three (3) months’ time, the OSIWA and Weitblick Funds project will stop. SEND foundation has structures to support orphans and vulnerable women and children to live resilient lives such as the micro-finance and credit union programmes, but is unable to support 202 and 259 survivors and orphans further, simply because of funding constraints. We call on donors and other interested individuals to work with SEND in providing support to orphans and survivors to be resilient and thriving” the Country Director maintained.

By Alhaji M. Kamara

Monday May 25, 2015
Courtesy Awoko