NOVEMBER 3, 2014 By Sirajin Rollings-Kamara
The outbreak of Ebola sometime in May this year has taken the lives of precious Sierra Leoneans nearly to the tune of 2,000, nationwide. This outbreak still considered to be an enigma by some and a plague by others is yet to have a solution. Many people have died out of unbelief about the existence of the sickness; whilst some have died as a result of negligence.
Those who have died may be unfortunate to have died. But even those living are feeling the brunt of this epidemic. It has affected all sectors of the economy. Trade has plummeted, so also are mining, agriculture, tourism and entertainment, etc. etc.
The education sector too has not been spared. There is presently no school, no college. By and large, there is no sector that has not been affected as the government is diverting all its resources to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fight this common and aggressive enemy.
But the effect of Ebola is not just local. Even Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are feeling the heat of this. Sierra Leoneans studying abroad who depend on government subvention or parental support are complaining as the support line has been cut off. The source of income for these people has been obstructed by Ebola. Since you cannot give what you don’t have, it means not having to send for these students studying abroad.
A Paramount Chief in Kono who prefers to be anonymous, confided in me that, since the outbreak of Ebola and its attendant effects, he has not been able to send the periodic support for his son studying in the U.S. There were other people who expressed similar concern. “I am afraid that my son may have to return, as I cannot pay his present semester fees,” lamented a senior government official in Kenema. Ebola has affected the whole country economically and the longer it takes to bring it to a dead end, the more suffering for Sierra Leoneans. Everyone is affected, the rich and the poor.
The governments of the U.S., U.K., China and Cuba have all sent in military and medical aid to fight this pandemic. There are high hopes among Sierra Leoneans that with the intervention of these governments, Ebola will be a thing of the past sooner than later. But its trickling effects may be with them for a long time, much more than expected.
Sierra Leoneans may need a bail out and series of windfall in order to rebuild their economy. It is like history repeating itself. It could be recalled that Sierra Leoneans had to rebuild their infrastructure at the end of the 11 year brutal civil war. But rebuilding the economy will be more herculean than the infrastructure.
A country even before the Ebola outbreak is considered one of the poorest nations in the world, only a miracle will help out the situation. The sufferings of the ordinary Sierra Leonean are far from over.