WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

Sierra Leone has faced multiple tragedies in recent decades, and our partners on this shipment have been walking with those suffering, every step of the way. During the 11 years of war in Sierra Leone, they helped more than 600 displaced people with medical care, food, clothes and counselling. When entire villages were burnt, they helped rebuild homes. When Ebola devastated the nation in 2014, killing thousands, our partners supported impoverished families with food packs and nutritional care to help people stay as healthy as possible. Then, in 2017 when mudslides caused the deaths of 1,000 people and displaced 3,000, they were there yet again, with relief goods and educational support for children who had been evacuated (see story below).

As well as responding to disasters, these partners know that through education, training and job creation, communities become stronger and more resilient to future disasters. “People can’t afford their basic needs, like clothes or shoes. They eat whatever they raise for the day, with nothing in reserve,” they wrote. Their projects aim to move vulnerable communities from this subsistence lifestyle to a more sustainable one. They have four primary schools, a secondary school and a job skills training centre, as well as a computer school for underprivileged youth and a health clinic. They have asked for goods to equip all their projects, including computers, furniture, clothing and educational supplies and equipment.


Aminata’s story

Nearly 4,000 people died in Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, leaving broken and traumatised families behind. Aminata’s was one of them. When both Aminata’s parents died of Ebola, it left her the head of her small household. Suddenly, she and her three siblings had nobody to care for them. They became homeless and dropped out of school, not knowing what the future might hold.

Our partners met Aminata and came alongside her. She wanted to get a job so that her brother and two sisters, at least, could return to school and finish their education. Staff helped Aminata start a small restaurant business where, over time, she has been so successful that she is not just supporting her own siblings, but is able to help other young girls who were once vulnerable like herself.

Aminata’s is just one of many stories  showing how these partners consistently look for the needs of individuals and groups in their community, and find solutions that lead to more sustainable futures.

We are pleased to be shipping goods to help in the administration of their outreach programmes intervening in the lives of more families like Aminata’s.


A new school for flood evacuees
In 2017, Sierra Leone made headlines when severe mudslides and flooding killed over 1,000 people and left 3,000 homeless. Our partners leapt into action, offering food and other immediate aid to people who had lost everything.

Then, as villagers began to move into new homes provided by the government, they saw that there was no school for children of evacuated families. They rallied support through their network, and successfully built a new school, now home to 250 students.

Goods from this shipment will help our partners respond quickly when disasters hit, with both immediate relief and longer term support.


Flooding, landslides, disease and conflict have all taken their toll on Sierra Leonean communities. Our partners are well-placed to give immediate help in times of disaster, but also run schools and training projects that are helping  equip children and young people to find more stable employment and build stronger communities.


Reference No : S5199
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Sierra Leone snapshot

Population: 7.6 million
Capital: Freetown
Main languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio

Sierra Leone is situated on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. It has a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country is rich in resources but economically impoverished, with 60% living below the national poverty line. The country was devastated by a civil war which destroyed much of the infrastructure and, more recently, struck by the Ebola outbreak causing another humanitarian crisis. 70% of youth are unemployed or underemployed.
Source: UNDP

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The filthy waters swirled around their family home, as 10 year old Inamullah* stared in growing fear. They had now burst over the river bank and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Stay inside until the tide goes down”, his relatives had told him. But was the house safe? Already water was pouring into the ground floor and he ran to see if it was approaching the second. There was no doubt. Any moment now, they would need to move to the third floor and who knew how long even it would be safe?

The young boy needed wisdom beyond his own. While he could make a plan for himself and his older brother, a harder question was beyond his ability to solve. His mother, an old, diabetic woman, could not manage to climb those stairs in the face of the swirling waters. Inamullah sought help from his 12 year old brother who was not much bigger or stronger and, try as they might, proved too weak to carry their mother out.

For the two children, the risk of losing her was not only horrifying but hauntingly familiar. Only five years earlier, they had lost their father to the earthquake in Pakistan. Neither brother would forget the terrifying shudders of the earth that day, nor the sickening moment of realization that their dad would never come home again. Surely now they could not lose their mother as well?

Natural disasters are nondiscriminatory: they strike where they will and affect people regardless of social class or family life. In the end, the two could only gaze in abject horror as the relentless waters swept their mother away from their grasp and out of their lives. All that remained for them, in their shocked state, was to try to cheat death themselves.

Somewhere in the dark waters, Inamullah found a rubber tire and hung on to it with what little strength remained. It bobbed and ducked in the violent waters as he tried to avoid the floating debris they carried at terrifying speeds in their raging path. It was thirteen hours before rescue workers found him and took him to safety. There he was reunited with his brother and the two, now orphaned, later spoke of their battle.

“We can’t sleep at night” they said, in what we would probably call post trauma response. “We are still scared of the floods. And we are all alone now that our mother has gone. She was all we had.”

Inamullah’s mother was just one of the death toll following Pakistan’s devastating floods in 2010. The body count was close to 2,000, but that statistic hides the true human cost of the disaster. 20 million people in Pakistan were estimated to be affected. Even though most of these displaced people are now beginning to return home, each day after they returned held countless, perilous risks. There was a very serious lack of clean water, with many people forced to drink from dirty canals and other sources. There were reports of widespread cholera outbreaks, as well as dysentery and diarrhea. These illnesses can be fatal, especially for the 3.5 million children, many of whom were already malnourished due to a life of chronic poverty.

Schools were hit too. Children returned to find that, along with the rest of the buildings, their schools had been washed away. The UNHCR estimated that around 10,000 schools were destroyed by the flooding, as well as many that were rendered unusable because they were serving as temporary shelters for people who lost their homes.

After the disaster, Crossroads was immediately in consultation with people in Pakistan who were working with those affected. The kind of help they needed varied with each stage of the recovery process, but, for the load we initially sent, they asked us to gather hygiene kits, kitchen sets and school supplies. Many people in Hong Kong responded generously by donating funds and running collection drives to help the flood victims. The container was sent to Pakistan and the goods inside reached people rebuilding their lives in new homes and those living temporarily in camps and shelters.

*Name changed

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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