After the storm
Recently the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Koroma, declared this West African nation to be Ebola Free. For those of us who live in Sierra Leone and went through the nightmare of the recent deadly epidemic which between 2014 – 2015 claimed thousands of deaths, this is wonderful news and a much needed relief.
We no longer have to wash our hands daily in chlorine! We no longer have to take daily temperature readings! We no longer have to worry about shaking someone’s hands! We are no longer routinely stopped by the police at road blocks to have our temperatures checked! We are no longer bound by curfews! We no longer have the daily worry of a potential deadly contamination!
We are truly enjoying are Ebola Free freedom. We are now free to move without road blocks, free to assemble in churches and public places, free to travel from one part of the country to the other without curfews and quarantined zones. We thank our Lord Jesus Christ for this freedom and peace of mind.
However the tragic consequences of the Ebola Epidemic linger on and are everywhere around us here in Sierra Leone:
- The deadly epidemic has left thousands of children as orphans in many cases rendering them homeless.
- The Ebola epidemic has economically damaged Sierra Leone making it the second poorest nation on earth with around an 80% unemployment rate. Food prices have risen. Petrol, transport and electricity prices have sharply increased and the people are facing very serious economic challenges.
- The epidemic has also impacted upon the nation’s medical facilities and capabilities. Many doctors and nurses have died. Many have left. The medical infrastructure and services are presently at a depleted and weakened state.
- It is only fairly recently that pupils and students have returned to school, colleges and universities after a prolonged shut down of educational institutions.
How is our Mission here in Sierra Leone meeting these serious national and regional challenges?
To begin with we have taken up the challenge of the Ebola orphans. In his epistle St. James writes: «True and pure religion before God the Father is to take care of orphans… in their suffering…» (1:27). Presently we are about to begin the construction of two modern orphanages which will cater for about 100 children. In addition to providing shelter and food, we will also provide free medical and educational services from nursery to high school and even College level. Indeed we are presently providing a hot meal six days a week to about 40 Ebola orphans (in addition to another 400 children and teachers in our school at Waterloo). We also provide all the children with imported shoes and where relevant wheelchairs.
In terms of the national unemployment problem, our Mission provides employment with good salaries and other benefits to scores sixty Sierra Leoneans. We employ school teachers, lecturers for our College, local priests to shepherd the Orthodox flock. We employ administrators, drivers, security guards, cleaners etc. In addition through our Teachers’ College and our scholarship system we train young people to become qualified teachers.
In the face of a weakened medical system where basic medical services are not available we meet this challenge in different ways. Where a member of our Mission cannot be treated here we send them abroad with all expenses paid. For example recently one of our local priests’ wife (Presbytera Elizabeth) developed cancer in her arm. Here we have no availability of chemo-therapy treatment. So our Mission send her and her husband (Rev. Alexander Kamara) to Ghana for treatment. She is now receiving chemo-therapy treatment which will be completed by December. The Mission is taking care of all the medical, transport and living expense. We are also grateful to the Archdiocese of Accra for housing and sheltering Rev. Alexander and Presbytera Elizabeth. Furthermore for less serious cases we provide free medical services in our clinic in Waterloo for our teachers and school children.
Our Mission in Sierra Leone is very grateful to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessalonica for all its assistance throughout many years. We are able through its financial gifts to help local people in need with medical expenses, school fees, funeral expenses and so many other needs. Over the last few years the Fraternity has also organized containers for the assistance of our people here. With the food supplies that they send us (rice, oil, flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk etc) we are able to observe our Lord Jesus Christ’s commandment to feed the poor. Our Mission in Sierra Leone offers thanks and gratitude in Christ to this noble Fraternity of Thessalonica.
Archimandrite Themistocles Adamopoulos
Shortlink to the post: http://orthodoxmission.org.gr/?p=7636