April 5, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay
Hundreds of Ebola survivors yesterday marched peacefully on the streets of Freetown to protest government’s refusal to deliver a promised package during the outbreak of the epidemic.
Daniel Turay, a demonstrator and Ebola survivor, told Concord Times that after they survived the deadly virus they were called heroes and heroines, and that the government promised to give them a package to help restore their lost livelihoods.
“We are here today not to cause any mayhem but just to remind the government of their responsibilities and the promise they made to us. Because the way we are seeing things are going, it clearly tells us that we have been abandoned. We need the free health because as survivors we have lots of implications such as eye problem, joint pains, deafness and others,” he says.
Turay said the government had also promised to provide free medical care for all survivors in the country, but not delivered on that promise as yet.
He further stated that before the outbreak they were going to school, adding that many of them have dropped out of school because they have nobody to pay their fees after losing family members to the virus.
Another survivor, Ann-marie Kamara, says she was a student at Njala University before the outbreak of the virus and lost both parents to the virus, and that she has had to drop out of university because she cannot afford to pay her fees while she also cares for her three younger siblings.
A five-man delegation of the National Ebola Survivors Association, headed by Public Relations Officer Daddy Hassan Kamara, met with President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House to channel their complaints.
Speaking to reporters subsequently, Kamara says President Koroma promised to do everything within his powers to ensure the plight of the demonstrators were looked into and addressed.
He said President Koroma also informed them about the existence of a government fund of more than Le4bn, tailored specifically for Ebola survivors across the country.
The President, PRO Kamara says, will spearhead the process of monetary distribution to ensure that all survivors are fully compensated.
Kamara urged all protesters – who were spread all through the country – to remain calm and wait for the final outcome of President Koroma’s promise.
In 2014 the Ebola virus surfaced and ravaged the country, devastating families as it killed no fewer than 3,000 and left 4,052 survivors, including women and children.
During the outbreak – which also occurred in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea – many children were left as orphans, women widowed and made homeless, thus depend solely on government support for their livelihood and basic amenities.