To say that the peoples of the three West African states of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are undergoing trauma would be understatement. This is particularly so as these states are presently battling the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that was first detected and confirmed in Guinea and then spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia with the attendant deaths of innocent and unsuspecting people.
Indeed, the Ebola Virus Disease (EBV) reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the deadliest in the history of epidemics, has claimed the lives of a record cumulative fatality two hundred and fourteen (214) Ebola confirmed deaths, five hundred and ninety-one (591) confirmed Ebola cases and one hundred and sixty-one (161) survivors as of August 5, this year in the case of Sierra Leone.
So far, Governments have poured in millions of dollars with the international community complementing with experts and financial resources to mitigate and eventually eradicate the scourge of Ebola. So far, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government remain the only country that has pronounced the most stringent measures that include the deployment of the military and the police to cordon the epicentres of the virus and quarantine household of confirmed cases of Ebola.
However, the fight against the EVD continues to be as challenging as ever, with particularly various hypotheses and theories being proffered by some distracting mainstream media and other social commentators that Ebola remains a myth, and that, in the case of sierra Leone, it was all a ploy by the Government to scale down populations in hitherto opposition strongholds with the intention of providing political advantage to the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party come the 2017/18 elections. The coincidence of census slated for later this year did help the situation either.
In neutralising this ill-fated theory, Government had to support all the ten political parties, including the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), to visit the south and eastern parts of the country to “sensitize” the public on Ebola. Then, one sort of civil society or the other took the cue and embarked on massive sensitization campaigns against the dread.
The myth and confusion were no novelty to Sierra Leone. For instance, when Ebola broke out in Uganda in the early 2000s, the myth that the wearing of banana leaves on the left wrist and the appeasement of the gods because of their unhappiness with mother earth would spare one of the scourges punctuated communities around Gulu.
The highpoint of the controversy in the current fight against Ebola in West Africa is the rather hypothetical question repeatedly posed by social media commentators of what bio war researchers from Western countries are doing in Ebola-prone countries West Africa?
This article is therefore not so much to examine neither the pro-active measures the respective governments have put in place in the fight against EVD nor to scold the ignorant populations about their initial denial that Ebola is a myth.
Instead, it intends to underscore the trauma that families and the countries are dealing with on a daily basis. One can only imagine the grief that comes with bereavement not the least wherein one is denied the cultural right to give a loved one a befitting funeral rite that passed on from the Ebola virus.
In situations like this, there is no gainsaying that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
an exceptionally stressful event like that of Ebola is prevalent among the people. It is especially traumatising for children who have lost their parents to Ebola and then rejected by their communities amidst the attendant stigmatization.
This is where one calls for child protection issues and therapeutic counselling to be incorporated as part of a holistic approach in whatever strategies devised with Governments and the international community in the fight against Ebola.
Like the trauma that Sierra Leone witnessed during and following the end of the civil war, interventions should not just focus on supporting individuals, families and communities regain a sense of control and safety, but should be taught skills that would make them more tolerable in their management of anger and rage, or how to grieve loss of loved ones.
There is a compelling need for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to scale up trauma counselling during and after the Ebola outbreak. This is so badly needed because following the death of Sierra Leone’s only virologist and lead-fighter against Ebola, Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan (from Ebola) a fortnight ago, my voluntary dedicated line to provide free trauma counselling continues to be inundated with calls almost round the clock from doctors, nurses and frontline health workers who have one form of anxiety or the other.
And this is where I doff my hat to WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone for establishing a 117 hotline that continues to provide not just a medical response to Ebola, but therapeutic counselling to front line health workers, children and their families in ongoing efforts to address the psychological trauma that comes with the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region.
This is crucial since therapy has clinically proven to be very helpful and effective in the treatment of PTSD, as healing will often occur with those directly affected retelling of the trauma during and after the disease would have been mitigated and brought under safer controls.
Author, Abdulai Bayraytay is a trauma and an Immediate Support Counsellor. He holds double master’s degrees in Social Work (with specialization in child protection), and Political Science from University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada respectively.
2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul
The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th IPRA conference in Turkey, at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th IPRA conference in Istanbul to serve a second term of two years.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 20, 2017/ -- Four illegal fishing cases have been found during a joint surveillance mission conducted by Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org/Africa/en) and Sierra Leone fishery authorities. Two Chinese vessels and one Korean vessel have been arrested for infringements of Sierra Leone fishing legislation, including possessing or using illegal fishing nets on board, no visible marking and a lack of required paperwork, including log books and authorisation for unloading catch. Fishing authorities ordered the vessels to return to Freetown port for further investigation. A fourth vessel, owned by an Italian company, was found with four kilograms of shark fins on board. Though not illegal under Sierra Leonean laws, this is a clear violation of European Union (EU) fishing rules. This boat’s case will be taken further with relevant EU authorities.
In addition, more than 70 bags of shark carcasses were found on one of the Chinese vessels.
The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.
The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.
A NEW DAWN FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN SIERRA LEONE, PARLIAMENT APPROVES MELRON NICOL-WILSON AS NEW OMBUDSMAN
The Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone has overwhelmingly approved the appointment of Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson as new Ombudsman, on Tuesday April 11, 2017. This follows him being named by H.E President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the replacement to Justice Edmond Cowan - a long-standing legal icon, who now chairs the Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee.
A man whose action speaks louder than words, Mr Nicol-Wilson has been appointed as new Ombudsman for Sierra Leone, a position reserved for high-profile people, who are well-respected and with unblemished character. Mr Nicol-Wilson has the typical pedigree of an Ombudsman, best known both in Sierra Leone and internationally as a champion for justice and human rights.
The Parliament’s decision to approve Mr Nicol-Wilson was anticipated, as the high-profile human rights lawyer emerged unscathed from an exchange of views with Members of Parliament.
(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely the thoughts of the author)
Election in any democratic setting, include the enjoyment of those rights that will elicit the full participation of individuals in determining the political life of his/her country. An election is a decision making process through which eligible citizens(those who have reached the age of majority, 18 years and above and with sound mind) freely choose their leaders through the ballot box to hold public offices for a specified term.
Generally, people vote with the expectation that the office holders would represent their communitiesand or countries best interest. Elections are viewed as a central feature of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Essentially, election is a testimony to peoples’ sovereignty and that ought to be respected and the process must be credible, otherwise there will be challenge with regards the acceptance of the result.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Thursday 20th April 2017 unanimously voted for the deferment of debate on the Bill entitled “The Finance Act 2017”, pending a pre-legislative briefing and that it should be piloted by the substantive Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo.
Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House who moved the motion explained the importance of the Finance Bill that it provides for the sources of revenue for Government in respect of taxation. She furthered that the pre-legislative hearing will clearly explain the reductions, additions, and significant changes that have been included in the Finance Act of 2017 to Members of Parliament, who will better articulate issues connected thereto during the course of the debate.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, SBB Dumbuya said that “judging from the significance of the Bill, it should be preceded by a pre-legislative briefing” as per the dictates of parliamentary practices and procedures.
On Sunday 26 March 2017, three very close family members were 'laid to rest' at a Thanksgiving and Memorial service held at the King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown. That service celebrated memories of the following family members: Mrs Lydia Sesay nee Yormah (my elder sister), her son Rtd. Captain Alimamy Sesay, and Madame Gbonu Yormah nee Gbloh.
Although these departed loved ones had died and were interred several years ago in my absence that thanksgiving service enabled me to truly emotionally connect with their demise. For one of the deceased the circumstances of his death did not permit us to give him a fitting funeral so to me that service served as his fitting, albeit belated, funeral service. That event has now freed me from the encumbrances that had prevented me for almost 19 years to put my thoughts about his demise on paper. This piece therefore serves as a tribute to his memory.
PRESS RELEASE: Rural Renewable Energy Project Conducts Installation Training
FREETOWN, 19 April 2017: UNOPS Sierra Leone is hosting a training for selected installation companies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, the President’s Recovery Priorities (PRP) programme and United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’).
The theoretical aspect of the training runs from 18th to 20thApril at the Golden Tulip Hotel, followed by 14 days of on-the-job sessionsin Petifu and Conakry Dee communities, in Port Loko District.ASACO, the supplier of the solar equipment, is providing the training facilitators and installation tools.
Participants are mainly Sierra Leonean engineers from Barefoot Women Solar Engineers Association (BWSEA),Frontier Business Solutions (FBS) and APTECH Africa Limited. Training contents include, photovoltaic (PV) system basics, types of solar systems, arrays and connections, project safety and guidance on using the installation checklists.
Former elected Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana left Freetown International Airport, Lungi late afternoon Wednesday April 19, 2017 onboard Kenya Airways on an "Emergency Travel Certificate", en route to Abuja, Nigeria on or about April 23/24, 2017 for the hearing of his petition filed on October 24, 2016 in the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, "seeking an enforcement of his fundamental Human Rights arising from his unconstitutional removal from office, and for further orders contained in the application."
"This matter has been set down for hearing by the Court for April 26, 2017."
According to a spokesman for the Sam Sumana family Matthias Bendu who was with Sam Sumana at the airport until the aircraft was airborne because of advanced information reaching the family that there would be some problem awaiting Sam Sumana at the airport, Matthias Bendu told this Writer on the cellphone from the airport that Sam Sumana "was detained by Immigration Officers at the airport for more than thirty minutes after the aircraft landed, and it was due to the intervention of the Inspector General of Police Francis Munu who told the immigration Officers that Sam Sumana had not committed any crime and must be allowed to travel".