By Ishmael Dumbuya
According to the Technical Adviser, Presidential Hajj Committee, Mohamed Haji Kella, the first batch of Hajj pilgrims will depart the shores of Sierra Leone today 19th June 2023.
He added that they have done everything required as Presidential Task Force Committee to ensure that the pilgrims leave the country today for Saudi Arabia in order to perform pilgrimage.
He went on to state that this is the 4th edition of the Hajj process, and that they did all they could to make the deserving applicants get it.
He clarified that the Government of Sierra Leone does not award Hajj scholarships, but makes request from other countries such as; Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE, to give scholarships to Sierra Leoneans, and once the scholarships are granted, they as government ensure that the people mostly in need of the facility are given, such as Imams or people that are involved in Islamic work in the country.
He explained that mostly the scholarships are given based on recommendation from the Muslim Community, local communities, the presidency and that the Social Welfare Ministry can also make recommendations, noting that people can also apply individually for it.
Alhahi Kella mentioned that this year’s Hajj has the lowest turnout with 640 pilgrims, adding that the elections serve as a major deterrent for people not to travel as some people noted that they want to witness the election and embark on the next Hajj.
He added that the cost also played a role for people not to travel, noting that the Sum of Six Thousand Seven Hundred United States Dollars (6,700 USD).
The Presidential Hajj Task Force Committee is the umbrella body appointed by the president responsible for overseeing and monitoring the National Hajj process in the country.