DECEMBER 11, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Headman of the Devil Hole community has chided government for its failure to support them in the fight against the Ebola outbreak.
Adikali Mansaray said they only survive by the grace of God, and that ten residents had died of Ebola in the community in the past four months, noting that they have been using local methods to prevent new infections.
Mansaray further explained that a community taskforce has been set up to monitor movements within the community, especially at night, as people from Port Loko and Makeni sneak in to the area at night.
“It is disheartening that we are very close to the capital city despite little government intervention in our community towards the fight against Ebola. We give little support from our earnings to the taskforce group to patrol at night,” he said.
“We came together as a community after we had complained several times on the radio and we just couldn’t wait for the government to come and help us. So we decided to volunteer on our own with the help of the elders in the community. People were dying here and although we asked for help it wasn’t coming fast enough,” he said. “If we continued to wait for the government to come and rescue us, more people will die. Aid agencies and the government are trying to reach hard-hit communities with food and water, but in this western part of Sierra Leone there are simply too many communities that need help.”
Hassan Bangura, a member of the taskforce, said they conduct routine house-to-house searches looking for sick people.
“We have been advising communities to avoid body contact and if we come across sick persons, we send them to the hospital or call 117. People can then come and take care of them. If someone dies, don’t touch the body! Call 117 and they will bury the body safely,” Hassan reiterated.
The taskforce carries out searches in the community three times daily. Not only do they check for sick people, they also sensitize residents about the dangers of keeping sick people at home and touching dead bodies. The community also enforces by-laws, which makes it an offense to house strangers who may have escaped from Ebola hotspots in towns and communities outside Freetown.