August 21, 2015 By Solomon Yarjoh
Indigenes of Moyamba District in southern Sierra Leone have emphasised that humanitarian organisations, including government agencies that would be implementing post-Ebola activities in the country, should not only focus on survivors but everybody in the district.
“Every one of us in Moyamba and the entire country is either directly affected or was infected with the deadly Ebola virus,” said Kanga Lappia, section chief of Fakoi in the Fakunya Chiefdom. He was addressing community members during a one-day preparedness meeting facilitated by Fambul Tok International and was held in Kwellu, Fakoi Section over the weekend.
Chief Lappia lamented over the debilitating effects of the Ebola virus on the people of Moyamba District, highlighting challenges and other havoc the virus had wreaked in the chiefdom in particular and the district as a whole. He mentioned challenges they faced due to restrictions on movements and the ban on markets (lomas), which he said also affected farmers in producing foodstuffs.
The meeting brought together a total of 42 participants from 14 villages, and it was geared towards providing space for discussions to beat back the Ebola virus, and that in the event of future disasters, communities would be prepared enough through collected commitments to withstand and respond.
Narrating how the virus hit their community, Madam Baindu said over 15 people perished at Moyamba Junction last year. She said the restrictions affected them greatly as the farming season was disrupted and their livelihoods came to a standstill.
She said Fambul Tok’s intervention in the district came at the right time, adding that no organisation has met community members on post-Ebola arrangements except Fambul Tok.
Acting District Coordinator of Fambul Tok, Lilian Morsay, explained the role of the organisation in the post-Ebola era, noting that Fambul Tok’s primary focus is to prepare communities to be fully involved in the post-Ebola engagements.
She lamented over mistakes made during the post-war era when millions of dollars from donors and partners went down the drains. She attributed this to the non-involvement of communities in the entire process.
“This time round Fambul Tok wants to see that communities are prepared and should be part of whatever arrangements or plans that would be developed for their various sections/chiefdoms,” Madam Morsay stressed.
After the deliberations, participants were divided into groups to answer questions from three thematic areas: how does as an individual ensure that Ebola does not come again to their community? How do communities ensure that Ebola does not re-emerge? And are there Ebola related cases in your communities? If yes, how have you tried to resolve them?
One of the major highlights in the discussions was community healing and reconciliation for the fact that community members have lots of issues related to Ebola to be settled.
At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to go back and organise meetings in their respective villages so that they could highlight two things which each village would want to embark on for the next two years.
Meanwhile, Fambul Tok will hold another meeting over the weekend in Kwellu village to train Community Welfare and Mediation Committee members (two from each village). They would be trained in communication skills, healing and reconciliation, and basic project management/accountability, etc.