By Henry T. Kargbo
Monday 25th May, 2020 was a remarkable day as Sierra Leoneans reflect on the scars left by the Ebola epidemic that kills over 3000 people, devastating the economic, social status, collapsed communities, cultural and religious heritage.
It is against this backdrop that the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), commemorated five (5) years of existence after Sierra Leone on the 25th May, 2014 Ebola epidemic outbreak was declared.
The ceremony took place on Monday 25th May, 2020 at SLAES headquarters, Jui-Waterloo Highway in the Western Area Ruaral District.
Updating pressmen on the purpose of the commemoration, president of SLAES, Yusuf Kabba, said they are all a symbol of national hope and survival, adding that today is a remarkable day as it marks the day when the country registered the first Ebola case that took thousands of lives.
He went on that they are not here to commemorate this day only but also to show their commitment especially when they are faced with another devastating pandemic, the COVID-19.
“This day is an opportunity also to outline some of our challenges and gains so far since the establishment of the Association in 2015.
We have financial challenges in running the administration, medical challenges that affect some survivors in relation to their eyesight and other traumatizing illnesses.
There is a big challenge in accessing our “missing in action” monies as all efforts made so far by the Association has proved futile.
However, with all these challenges, we have made series of gains including; sensitizing victims, community mobilization, establishing offices across the country, provide back to school support, scholarship, executive capacitation on advocacy, fighting for survivors and fought for widows and widowers,” president Kabba said.
In a press release read out by, the National Coordinator of SLAES, Abdul Karim Bah, it states that “Today is a special day for Ebola survivors that emerged from various treatment centers faced enormous challenges, some of which exists to date, including the daily livelihood of survivors, health problems from Ebola such as; blindness, deafness, joint pains, stigmatization and discrimination in their communities.
On the 7th January, 2015 Ebola Survivors from various treatment centers came together and formed the association, the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES). The motto of the association is “Who feels it knows it”.
The Association was formed for the sole aim of addressing, promoting, protecting and advocating for survivors nationwide.
Since then, the association has carried out many community activities solely and with government and non-government interventions. Meanwhile, we are grateful to God for letting our lives become a symbol of national survival.
As an organization, we are looking at a comparative of both the Ebola epidemic and the corona virus pandemic. Both viruses sharing so many similarities /but also differences. We see this as a fight that can only be successful if we come together as a nation, as we did for Ebola.
Let us remember that Ebola is deadlier than COVID-19 but we fought and survived it…as individuals and together as a nation. We might not have as much resources as Western countries, but our unity and resilience speak volumes. Our experience from Ebola qualifies as the best weapon to defeat COVID-19”.