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Sallu Kamuskay

Why did Sierra Leone’s government abandon mentally challenged people during the three days lockdown?

A couple of days ago, we had an exclusive interview with the national coordinator of social workers, Sierra Leone, at their Sander street office on their involvement during the three days lockdown and his take on the rumour of the two weeks total l juiockdown.

According to him, Mr Hassan Koroma, he disclosed to us that as an organisation, they were disappointed over government during the three days lockdown as the government failed to cater for the mentally challenged who according to him are sierra Leonean and are also vulnerable people in Freetown.

He furthered that those set of people are Sierra Leoneans like us and should be treated with respect and human dignity. ” they are more vulnerable because they can’t beg, so they have to live by the leftover of pedestrians and three days lockdown did not allow anyone out making those set of people more vulnerable in the street of Freetown.”

He said, speaking to him about their involvement during the three days as one of their mandates over 2 years now is to cater for the mentally challenged and homeless people in the street of Freetown, he said, “I want to start by thanking Precious Amabel Lebbi, Sierra Leone’s traditional folk singer Fantasy Wiz Camara, Caritas Freetown and Friends in the UK and U.S.A who have contributed immensely during lockdown through social media campaigns, donations and showed up during the three days to help feed our friends. They all demonstrated a true sense of patriotism and humanity.”

When we asked him about rumours of the 14 days lockdown being advocated by certain NGO’S and groups of individuals, he had this to say “As we said, we felt disappointed over the government for sidelining people living with mental illness and homeless that were not captured during the three days lockdown as part of the 4 billion allocated for the people living with vulnerability.

When such statement comes from government to cater for vulnerable people becomes a policy statement. If the government say they want to support vulnerable groups in these difficult times, the Government must be very clear as to the set of vulnerable groups. the different set of groups that falls in the category of vulnerable groups and how they will be able to capture people who are really vulnerable. When you look at the context of vulnerability, you look at people who live in a weaker situation to stand for themselves.

If we look at those key components measured, people with mentally challenged and homeless fall very big in that set of the group because those set of people can’t fend for themselves, even if you give them raw materials or money, it will be taken away from them because people like the mentally challenged don’t know the importance of the value of money. All government should do for those set of people living with mental illness and homeless is to do a program similar to what we are doing at social workers Sierra Leone which is to prepare cook food for them and serve them during the 3 days lockdown.

We were hoping that government through NACSA and other implementing bodies could have come to our aid to support our feeding program to ensure that we continue to cater to those set of vulnerable people. Moving forward, we continue to advocate government and institutions to look at vulnerability from a broader perspective by extending support to the mentally challenged and homeless people. We are always open and willing to support the government with ideas and structures in making this happen because we have been into providing meals to the mentally challenged and homeless people in the street of Freetown for over 2 years now. We have the data and know-how to reach out to them.”

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