DECEMBER 18, 2014
Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom was unable to control his emotion as he shed tears in front of a jam-packed school assembly while making an emotional speech at the Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in Birmingham.
His Excellency Edward Mohamed Turay was invited recently by the school to receive gifts including children’s toys, paste, brushes and other items, following an appeal by the High Commissioner on behalf of children of Sierra Leone who have been unable to return to school following the Ebola virus disease.
“Today, I stand before you here to receive gifts you collected for our children back home who could not go back to school because of the deadly Ebola virus disease. You’ve made me speechless,” Turay said, adding that “I will take your message back home to my President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and deliver your gifts to the children of Sierra Leone.”
The High Commissioner gave a brief account of the Ebola situation in Sierra Leone which he said has badly affected not only the country’s economy, but has also forced companies and schools to close down.
“We have lost so much during this year, as expatriates have fled the country, companies closed down and children can no longer go to school because of the Ebola,” he said and expressed his sincere gratitude to the school’s authorities and students for what he described as “these wonderful gifts”.
He said words cannot express how much he feels seeing all the gifts being collected for the children back home, noting: “This is the best Christmas gifts I have ever received on behalf of the children of Sierra Leone.” The High Commissioner jumped and screamed in excitement as the gifts were openly presented to him before the school hall.
He however expressed hope that the situation in Sierra Leone will be brought under control with the cooperation of the international community, especially Britain, which he said has established treatment centres across the country. He thanked the British government for their continued support to the government and people of Sierra Leone, saying: “The people of Sierra Leone will never forget you in a hurry.”
The school’s Head Teacher, Dominic Robson, expressed delight that the High Commissioner and team squeezed some of their time from their busy schedule to honour their invitation.
Robson paid special tribute to the students of the school who have sacrificed a lot in collecting the gifts for the children in Sierra Leone, making reference to the health workers featured in the TIMES magazine, whom he described as heroes.
He said the year 2014 was not a good one for the people of Sierra Leone and hoped the New Year 2015 will bring out positive development for them.
Susan Mansour, a Biologist working with Public Health England, gave a lecture on the dangers of Ebola, adding that the disease affects both adult and children through bodily contact.
She said Britain has opened treatment centres in Sierra Leone and the National Health Service (NHS) has also established a programme encouraging volunteers to go to Sierra Leone and join the fight against Ebola.
Earlier, Steven, a teacher at the school who coordinated the programme alongside Biologist Julie Wadeson, said materials were gathered from across England including Hull, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham, for the children of Sierra Leone.
“These children are proud to help families and children not less than 3000 miles away in West Africa,” Steven said.
Julie had also earlier stated: “I hope this visit will show you that we do care, if only in a small way, but to continue relations with you, your embassy and your country would be fantastic.
The High Commissioner and his team including First Secretary Clara Koroma, Finance Attaché John Ellie and Information Attaché Sorie Sudan Sesay earlier received a warm welcome from the school on arrival.