Sierra Leone emergency update

Posted on: Wednesday, 27th September, 2017
Relief services - Sierra Leone mudslide emergency

More than a month after the mudslides in Sierra Leone, CBM is helping people with disabilities access supplies and rebuild their lives.

With hundreds dead and thousands more left homeless from the landslide and flooding, CBM with the help of two local partners, has been helping people with disabilities and their families in the hardest-hit communities.

Jalloh’s story

Jalloh is treated at health care booth run by CBM's partner.Jalloh was the first to be treated at a health care booth set up by CBM’s partner, The United Methodist Church. Jalloh lived on the hillside of Sugar Loaf Mountain and says his building "kind of exploded" when the mud gushed in.

"I was completely covered in mud and by the grace of God, I fought hard and pushed myself forward till my hand showed up in the open. Luckily, a man saw my hand and alerted others. But he thought maybe I was dead. When he touched my hand, I grabbed his and held on firmly," Jalloh said.

After they pulled Jalloh out, they tried to help others with him, but a huge boulder rolled in and covered the spot and many were buried alive. Jalloh was rushed to the hospital but his family was told that there was no bed to accommodate him so he was taken to CBM’s emergency booth for treatment. He says, "I am very pleased with the treatment I’ve just received. I know that by God’s grace I’ll sleep well tonight."

Access to emergency relief

When disaster strikes, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and struggle to access vital services. Thanks to an incredible response from supporters to our appeal, CBM and local partners are providing emergency relief and health care to 600 children and over 750 adults in Kamayama and Pentagon, two areas within Sierra Leone hardest hit by the mudslides.

Providing psychological support

Many people in Sierra Leone have undergone horrific experiences over the past few weeks, enduring terrifying experiences like Jalloh’s or losing multiple family members. Rescue workers spent days recovering hundreds of bodies that had been buried in mud.  The Rev. James Boye-Caulker, superintendent of Western District of The United Methodist Church has heard many terrible stories from survivors, including that of a woman who lost nine family members. "It’s really traumatic…I have been hearing similar stories from many people and have been praying for them."

Our team in Freetown is helping to ensure that survivors, rescue workers and others affected get the support they need to deal with these traumatic events. CBM has been helping to develop mental health services in Sierra Leone for many years. Now additional social workers and mental health nurses are being trained to provide counselling and support to those caught up in the disaster.  Offering psychological support immediately helps reduce their chance of developing long-term mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

Preventing the spread of infectious diseases

CBM partners have also been disseminating information on how people can protect themselves and prevent the spread of infectious diseases like cholera.

Disability and emergencies

An estimated 1 in 7 people across the world live with some form of disability. At times of disaster, they are among the most affected and the last to receive help.  They may not be able to see, hear or understand warning messages and may find it difficult to access life-saving relief, such as food, water, shelter or medical support.

CBM has over 100 years’ experience of providing relief and recovery for people living with and at risk of disabilities, at times of crisis. CBM supporters provide vital support to the world’s most vulnerable people when they need it most. Thank you.

Images: © Phileas Jusu, UMNS


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