December 1, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
Human Rights Commissioner, Daphine Olu-Williams, could not withstand the scene; she was simply overtaken by tears. An emotional outburst in sympathy of dozens of Ebola orphans who converged at the centre of Rolath Village to collect donated food items from the African Kind Hearts. Such was the despondency in the looks of the Ebola orphaned children and their foster parent in the village that a documentary maker or photojournalist would have found it handy.
Singing in their local dialect – Temne – they expressed the untold suffering and despair the disease has brought to them. Very touching and emotional tone. That might have triggered the commissioner’s emotional outburst.
Madam Daphine Olu-Williams, Chairperson of African Kind Hearts, was in the Port Loko district to donate some assorted food items to fifty Ebola orphans.
According to Madam Williams, the organisation was established in 1998 and that they provide assistance to vulnerable women and children.
The organisation solicited support from the China Africa People –to- People Friendship Action to provide assorted food items to the Ebola orphans in the Port Loko District.
Rolath village lies few miles away from Lunsar town in the Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District. Inhabitants of that lonely village would never forget the story of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Sierra Leone. Like many other villages hard hit by the outbreak, Rolath and its inhabitants have been left with an indelible scar.
The poverty stricken village still carries visible scars of the Ebola Virus Disease. Forty –eight people died of the virus in the village, which has less than ten houses, among the dead were six pregnant women.
A social Worker in the Port Loko District, Haja Madie, disclosed that the village has thirty-one orphans.
Ibrahim Kamara is the village headman. He told Concord Times that the disease was brought to the village by an old man, a herbalist.
At the early stage of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, there was the issue of denial among people mostly in rural areas, which caused an escalation in the impact of the disease across the country, as widespread denial was key to the spread of the disease.
“When the disease broke out in this village, people denied the reality and believed it was a curse,” said Kamara.
The Ebola virus Disease left over five thousand children orphans in Sierra Leone with over three thousand deaths. Among the twelve district in the country, Port Loko was hard hit as the district shares borders with almost every other districts, except those in the extreme end of the south-eastern region.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs is responsible to soliciting support and housing facilities for Ebola orphans. The Minister, Alhaji Moijeh Kaikai, has on several occasions told the public that government has established interim care centre for Ebola orphans. But the question is: is there enough space to house all the orphans?
In Rolath village for instance, Ebola orphans are left in the hands of caregivers or foster parents who are not in a position to provide the needs of the children. And government is not doing enough to ameliorate their plight as the orphans are abandoned, with only foster parents to care for them.
“We never receive any assistance from the government. We are suffering a lot, especially in the area of food,” said the village headman.
He said inhabitants of the village are mostly farmers who could not farm for the past two years for fear of contracting the deadly virus.
It is important that the government and other well wishers come to the aid of not only orphans but also inhabitants of this Ebola village, though battered by Ebola but resilient enough to still sing songs of hope.