On Monday August 14 2017, rain and torrential flooding and landslides resulted in the largest single day disaster in the history of Sierra Leone.
Hundreds are confirmed dead. Thousands have lost their homes and property.
International assistance is urgently needed. You can help make a difference!
Our hearts grieve as the nation is mourning and thousands are destitute.
We are helping to restore hope and normalcy to the poor and destitute by providing psycho-social counselling, emergncy relief supplies (food, water, toiletries, clothing etc.), activities for the kids and housing assistance.
Every bit helps. Please give today!
One of our implementing partners the Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation (TPBCF) visited the mudslide-impacted community at Regent on Thursday August 17th. This site is ground zero – where hundreds were killed and are still missing.
The victims are currently housed in a makeshift school. They have lost everything and are in desperate need.
Cremelda, the founder of TPBCF, reported that the children still are still in shock. Many of them lost their parents and have been orphaned by this disaster. There is also a dire need for counseling/psychosocial support as the victims are traumatized.
We provided bottles of water and some grocery items as there is an on-going need for this. The community leaders requested help specifically in the form of food, clothing and medication.
Thanks for your on-going assistance as we bring hope to these communities that have lost everything.
Please share this page with your friends / family members. Every bit helps.
Here's a project update on what we have been able to accomplish together at Kaningo.
One of the flood-affected areas is the Kaningo community in Lumley, a suburb of Freetown. Representatives of Develop Africa made the first visit to this community to do an initial assessment on the day of the disaster.
The team did one-to-one interviews with some of the victims and obtained vital information from them. The stories that they told were disheartening. A nine-year-old boy by the name of Musa lost nineteen of his family members and was the only survivor. He was injured and in critical condition. Children explained that they saw their parents swept away by the flood when the Kaningo River overflowed its banks.
The whole scene was very emotional. Victims were crying because of loss of their loved ones and property. Hundreds of them were rendered homeless and some were badly injured. Their stories confirmed the need for psycho-social counseling – to help them get over the traumatic experience. Based on our interviews, we determined that they were in urgent need of basic necessities such as food, clothing, toiletries and drinking water.
We immediately embarked on three interventions:
We are offering psychosocial counseling to the victims. In the photos, you can see team members providing the victims with one-to-one counseling. The victims are very grateful to have someone to talk with. This is helping them to unload what is on their minds and express their grief. We are reassuring them that all is not lost – while there is life, there is still hope.
There is a dire need for counseling as some of the older victims are still in shock. One of the traumatized women in another location is still not able to talk, several days later.
Provision of Toiletries, Clothing, and Food:
Through your support, we have provided toiletries such as bath soap, tooth paste, sanitary pads, bath soap, toothbrushes, pampers, buckets for bathing, underwear, and slippers for both the young and the old and clothes for kids. We also provided funds to some of the victims to enable them to purchase food - as this was desperately needed immediately after the disaster. In the coming weeks, we will be distributing additional supplies.
Remedial Supporting Activities for the Kids:
In disaster situations like these, the children are often neglected. With this in mind, we decided to also focus on meeting the broader needs of the kids. We are providing classes for 350 kids, helping them to redirect their attention and energies.
These classes cover subjects such as Math and English with the goal of helping them to revise key things they learned in school. Lessons include topics like the parts of speech (nouns, verbs etc.), counting in multiples of two, the alphabet etc. The black board is divided into sections for each grade level. The school materials that we have distributed (books, pens, and pencils for the kids) are enhancing our teaching sessions.
The kids have fun playing with the board games and blocks that we provided. They love the fun and relaxing sessions. This is helping them to get over the trauma.
The conditions have not been ideal. On some occasions, it is noisy and difficult to get them to focus. An additional complexity that we encountered is that some of the children have never been to school. In the included photos, you can see the crowded room where classes were offered. The room serves a dual purpose.In the morning it's a classroom for kids. At night it is a bedroom for men, women, and children - with the mattresses spread all over the floor.
The community leaders, parents, and children are very appreciative of the lessons we are providing. Classes take place for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. The classes are occupying the kids productively.
We are so grateful for your support which has helped to bring smiles to hundreds of faces and meet immediate needs. We certainly could not have done this without your support
There is much work to be done and a long recovery road ahead. Please consider signing up for a recurring donation. You can also help spread the word by sharing this update on FaceBook or by forwarding this to your family and friends. Thanks so much for your support.
With deep appreciation
Sylvester and the Develop Africa Team
Dear project supporters,
Over 700+ landslide and flood victims have been relocated to Hill Station and are now housed in tents there. We have secured office space near medical center working closely with Ministry of Health / WHO.
On Thursday, August 31st, In partnership with Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation and the Sierra Leone Medical Students Association, and thanks to YOUR support, we distributed school materials and toiletries to the kids and parents. The victims especially the kids were very excited to receive the school materials, toiletries and baby diapers; we were the first to make such donations to them since the disaster. Most of the victims requested that we also help provide additional clothing for them as they lost everything during the disaster.
We are now running 2 psycho-social counseling shifts each day, going tent by tent. As of Monday, September 4th, we had counseled 56 victims. 6 of them were serious cases needing special attention. Some reported having hallucinations and flash backs of the flood. Others reported sleep deprivation and depression.
The beneficiaries that we distributed emergency relief supplies to expressed an eagerness to get back on their feet. They are requesting support in the form of microfinance funds to help them restart their businesses. This will help them to start a new life, get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.
Based on our previous experience providing microfinance and interviews conducted with these beneficiaries who have lost all, we are convinced that providing microfinance funds would be a great way to help them regain independence. It would definitely not be ideal for them to stay in this tent environment. The quicker they are re-integrated into society, the better.
At Kaningo, we are continuing to provide educational activities to the kids. At Kaningo, the families have requested additional help with food.
At both locations, one of the top needs is also ensuring the continuation of the education of the kids. The families have asked for support with regards to providing them with uniforms and other school materials.
Thanks to your support, we are bringing hope and encouragement - where support is limited. We certainly could not do this without you and are deeply grateful for your kind and on-going support.
With great appreciation
The Develop Africa Team
Have you ever had the opportunity to listen to the story of someone who lost all in a disaster?
In this video, Jane tells us what it is like to lose everything- family, business, and possessions. She is clearly distraught and beside herself.
Psychological trauma is defined as is a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.
Sadly and unfortunately, psychological trauma is often overlooked.
Thankfully, because of YOUR support, we are paying attention to this area. We are not overlooking this. We are providing psycho-social counseling to help bring healing and restore hope to kids, youths, and adults. More information on this will be provided in the next report in 1-2 weeks.
Jane asks for your help to get back on track. Your donation today will help provide microfinance loans to Jane and others – helping them regain self-sufficiency. Thank you so much for your generosity.
We value and appreciate your partnership
The Develop Africa team
The flood victims lost everything! Their stories are heart-rending:
“My mother and Father are still missing since the flood,” said a seven-year-old boy.
A woman told us “I am the only survivor. My whole family of 6 got affected. I was on my way from the mosque for prayers and saw everything that happened with my own eyes. I want to die too, as there is no reason to be alive after my husband and my five children all perished.”
“My uncle and aunty who paid my high school fees are no longer alive. They drowned! I saw the water dragging my aunty away. I am undone! Totally finished.”
“My younger brother lost his wife and three children. He is now isolating himself from everyone. He has suicidal thoughts.”
Based on our estimate, the Hill Station camp has in total 187 occupants. As of September 17th, we had engaged 88 survivors/victims.
Based on our interview/interaction with them, here is a summary of their mental states / current concerns
You can read some specific interview summaries at the following link. The summaries give you a peek into their world and what they went through. Summary of Psycho-Social Counseling Interviews of Flood-Affected Survivors (PDF).
Based on this, we are continuing to provide counseling to the survivors/victims and offering psychosocial support. This counseling includes how to deal with trauma and stress. It also includes encouraging the victims on how to start over again – restoring hope and suggesting new opportunities that they could pursue.
We are talking them through the crisis and the loss of their loved ones/family members. Group counseling and discussion are essential to their wellbeing as well as follow-ups. Counseling sessions are provided by a Mental health doctor, nursing sisters, nurses and students from the Medical Students Association.
The victims, however, need more than counseling as indicated in the PDF linked above.
How We Plan to Continue To Help:
How YOU Can Help:
We, however, will not be able to do this without your help. Could you help the survivors get back on their feet by making a donation of $100 today? Thank you for joining us in helping them get back on track with their lives.
Dear Project Supporters,
The flooding and mudslide in August was a terrible tragedy in Sierra Leone. Thanks to your support, over the past months, we have provided food, water, clothing and other basic supplies to the families in need. We have also provided psychosocial counseling and educational classes. We could not have done it without your support. Thank you so much for helping flood-affected families in Sierra Leone.
After such a tragic event, the transition back to normal life is not an easy one. Because of this, and to help continue the process of helping, we organized a Fun Fair on November 11, 2017. This was a special treat for the kids residing at the Juba Response Emergency Camp. The Fun Fair gave these children a chance to enjoy an event and provide some healing from their traumatic experience. The event included a skit (play) and a musical concert by a well-known, young artist. Several pictures from the Fun Fair are included in this report. The rest can be seen in the full photo album
One of the main preventive measures highlighted in the skit was the importance of hand washing. Kids were encouraged to wash their hands before eating, after using the restroom. Parents were also encouraged to wash their hands before feeding their kids. The skit highlighted areas such as hilltops, the bank of streams and slums as dangerous areas people must stay away from to protect themselves and their children.
Develop Africa’s Director, Mr. Abu Conteh, encouraged both the kids and parents to adhere to the preventative measures of cholera highlighted in the drama by the kids and also to stay away from vulnerable areas. In his speech, he advised parents to do everything in their power to send their kids back to school. “Education” he stated “is the key to every success of a nation. Education is the poor man’s friend.”
These emergency response camps were set up on a temporary basis. Long term, keeping the families in tents is far from ideal. With this in mind, the families were informed several weeks ago that the camps would be phased out. Families were encouraged to accelerate plans to move out. In order to help them transition out, the families have started receiving care packages (money towards housing expenses, food, water, clothes and other basic supplies).
“After the landslide, mudslide and flooding on 14 August 2017, camps of tents were set up to house displaced people. The Office of National Security (ONS) over the weekend engaged with displaced victims at the various camps in Freetown on dispatch plans and procedures for the closing down of the camps on 15 November 2017. The camps will come down and the victims will be removed from the camps.” - Full Article from Awoko.org
Another news article states On 20 November the ONS announced that verified survivors who had not received their aid packages would be permitted to continue sleeping in the formal and informal shelters until they did." -Full Article- Theguardian.com
By November 22nd, at least 28 families had left the Juba camp, with more families leaving every week. Many of the families expressed a sense of powerlessness and uncertainty about their future.
We have obtained the cell phone numbers of many of the families. We plan to continue to provide support to them - particularly in the area of scholarship assistance for the children. These families truly need all the support that they can get as they try to start life over.
With great appreciation,
The Develop Africa Team