By John Baimba Sesay in Beijing
Sierra Leonean-born China-based artist, philanthropist and Presidential Gold Medalist, Mariatu (Maliya) Kargbo, is supporting the fight against the dreadful Ebola virus disease in her home country of Sierra Leone with a cash donation of fifty million Leones(Le50,000,000) and medical equipment worth over US$10,000 to be flown into the country.
Ms. Kargbo, who last April was presented with a Presidential Gold Medal Award by President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House for her role as an artist and for representing her country effectively abroad, is also extending her philanthropic hands to the sister countries of Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria where Ebola testing machines worth thousands of dollars are expected to be handed over through their embassies in the People’s Republic of China.
Ms. Kargbo has also made a donation of five thousand United States dollars to authorities in the People’s Republic of China, through Red Cross, for the 6.1 magnitude earthquake which recently struck China, causing the death of hundreds of Chinese citizens in Yunnan Province, South Western China.
All of these financial and material supports came about following an awareness raising event hosted by the artist on Sunday 17th August in Central Beijing, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Embassy in China. Support was also provided by other African embassies including those of Cameroon and Sudan, and Chinese friends of Madam Kargbo.
The event was also aimed at raising more international support following the outbreak of the disease in the three Mano River Union nations, with Nigeria also recently experiencing same.
Mariatu Kargbo, speaking in a somber mood, thanked all those who attended the event and for particularly making their donations. Sierra Leone, she said, will ever be grateful to the People’s Republic of China for her continuous support in diverse fields, saying: “The Ebola virus has posed a huge challenge to our country and the sub-region but with government’s determination, we shall overcome.”
In her remarks, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Chief of Mission said “a problem for one African nation should be the concern of all African nations”, stressing that now is the time that the international community should come to the aid of African nations faced with the Ebola health challenge, because of the seriousness of the disease.
Since the outbreak of the EVD in Sierra Leone, she said, the government has “put in place measures to fight, contain and eradicate the disease”. According to envoy Momoh, “because of the robust measures we have initiated as a country and with the astute leadership provided by President Ernest Bai Koroma, we are beginning to witness a decline in the figures of deaths and affected persons”.
This was a positive development. Sierra Leone, she said, cannot overstate the need for international support whilst appreciating what the country’s development partners – WHO, MSF, World Bank, and others – are doing in support of the country and the West African sub-region in the fight against Ebola.
“We are also particularly grateful for the support and timely intervention of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, who came in with a support of medical equipment worth 10 million Yuan as second batch of support. China has demonstrated that a friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Madam Momoh paid glowing tribute to Mariatu Kargbo for her initiative in not just raising international awareness in China about the Ebola outbreak in her country, but for raising her national colours higher.
“I particularly would thank Mariatu Kargbo who, at this crucial moment in our beloved country, has decided to organize a concert as a way of raising awareness and generating more support towards tackling the Ebola virus that has posed a serious challenge to not just our country, but other affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. We appreciate you and on behalf of His Excellency President Koroma, we want to thank you. We commend and encourage you to continue raising the national flag of our beloved country, Sierra Leone,” she concluded.
The medical equipment will soon be flown into the country by the Embassy of Sierra Leone in China, which has been putting efforts together aimed at supporting the government back home in tackling the virus since its outbreak.
Embassy staff also made a donation of US$5,000 from their July salaries towards the Ebola fight.