Archive for January, 2015

A day in life – Sierra Leone

Written by Marianne on . Posted in News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

Nektarina Non Profit has partnered with Kiradi Initiatives Sierra Leone (KISL) to promote education and sustainability in Sierra Leone. The project’s activities have been put on hold in order to prioritise the urgent struggle against the Ebola epidemic, which is sweeping the country. We have supported a crowdfunding campaign to help the implementation of the Village-to-village Ebola prevention project. More information on the outcomes of this campaign here.


Compiled by George Mansaray, Project Manager, Kiradi Initiatives and Nektarina Non Profit


The kiradi initiatives over the months played a leading role in the grand fight against Ebola in the Lokomasama and Kaffu Bullom Chiefdoms. Its exemplary service delivery in facilitating the provision of free drugs, medical instruments, food rations, sensitization and education materials, sanitation materials, counseling and the shuttling of sick people to the community health care facilities was a sigh of relief for the community leaders and its immediate beneficiaries.

However, the challenge is a grand one and seems to be contained as the associations continued support would maintain the long haul in breaking the chain of transmission.

Meanwhile, despite the dwindling in national infection rates, new infections cases are reported in the Bailor and Tigbornor communities of the Yurika section in the Lokomasama chiefdom. This happened on 19 January 2015 claiming eight lives and leaving the inhabitants of these two communities at risk of catching the virus if the association does not step up proactive emergency measures as key players. There is currently restricted access to these two fishing communities with an estimated population of over five thousand. The majority of these are children.

The association’s volunteers embarks on a village-to-village and house to house search for sick people, referred to as operation surge by the president. This exercise is to get sick people out of their homes and hide out to be diagnosed and be treated for any illness.

However, unstructed interviews were conducted along the exercise to ascertain the effects of the Ebola epidemic in every aspect of the people’s daily lives and the impact this will have with regards their livelihoods.

The outcome of the operation surge saw hundreds of sick people coming out and being transported for free medical care at the ill equipped community health care facilities and the very sick ones were moved to the Ebola holding centers for further proper diagnosis.

As the general campaign against Ebola rests on avoiding body contacts, peoples compounds and gatherings coupled with other don’ts; this in a way remains a big challenge.

The peoples source of livelihood rests on working together on their farms and sharing almost insufficient materials in turns within their varied communities. They also want to care for and render the necessary traditional courtesies a sick person deserves and even so after death. These regulations though accepted were a challenge though and remains a challenge.

However, these tendencies rests on the very appalling health care services where available and where not available, have to use traditional methods to render treatment to its sick relations. Most illnesses are associated with voodoo, witchcraft or a course from some ancestral spirit. The people accept these beliefs with high esteem.

The fact is that rural people are the most deprived, they continue to languish and live in squalor despite modern medicine and technology is making life easy at some point nowadays. People continue to die from treatable illnesses because of a lack in proper health care infrastructure in these areas.

The outcome from the interviews clearly highlights the under mentioned facts and they require keen consideration for action to light up the dark cloud of untold suffering looming over our people.

  • The number of hungry people has increased… that is…. not having access or cannot afford their daily meals,
  • Seeds reserved for the farming season are been consumed, as they are not seeing any end in sight of the Ebola virus epidemic according to the inhabitants despite governments pronouncement of March 31.
  • Harvested farm products preserved is almost running out. They also had to resort to the batter system of trade to get what they do not have from others that need what they have. There has been no physical exchange of cash for transactions over the quarantine period.
  • The restricted movement of people is also a big challenge or a multiplier effect to the suffering but a step to break the chain of transmission. This has been moderately lifted of late..22/01/15
  • Children’s education has faltered. Most of the young girls are now pregnant and the other lads forced to stay around their homes without access to radio sets and other school materials to at least listen to the emergency radio teaching program for all school grades,
  • Most children fend for themselves as they lost their families from Ebola and carry the stigma of rejection by family members,
  • The lads look haggard and without proper beddings, sanitary materials for their personal hygiene and clothing
  • The rejection is not only hinged on their being Ebola survivors only but caring for them taking into consideration the hard times and the very large family sizes per household
  • People are opting to adopt these kids but the dire consequences had always being abuse of these lads and finally ending up being on the streets as street children and commercial sex workers…. This is against the associations will and the relatives of these toddlers.
  • Almost no inhabitants can afford hospital charges other than the free interim free medical care they are receiving now from the association’s facilitated scheme which may not continue if sustainable strategies are not sought.
  • Most of them have to cover long distances to reach the supported association’s health facility whilst some cannot especially the aged.
  • Some communities are dozens of kilometers away from peripheral health units except the associations’ interim arrangement is helping them out with intermittent access to health care services,
  • An unused health care facility is rendering great favor to poor ruralites as the association is bringing in nurses to render selfless service on a compassionate basis…adopting this centre by equipping it and fully managing it will be an outstanding charitable venture from the association as highlighted by most interviewees from that area.
  • Babies are malnourished and lactating mothers enduring the most of it,
  • The youth are left with no option but sitting idly by and going by the day. Some are opting for skills training if there are the provisions to become useful in society when Ebola should have gone.
  • As much as the staff are rendering selfless service; they also would require support as they all fall within the quagmire.
  • The people’s knowledge about environmental sanitation and personal hygiene is negatively questionable….what is filth, untidiness and cleanliness is hard to define in this communities.

Above all, keen consideration in the drive to proactive measures in sustaining the gains already made is appreciated …this was and is the general request of the inhabitants.

Amidst the very rough challenges, the team of volunteers continues to show resilience using every corridor or relationship to help with the very grave challenges. The response has been positive though small but plays a greater part in ameliorating the threat in a situation of nothing.

We have a pledge of a Nissan Serena …a used seven-sitter car ….from Germany but we are obliged to cover the shipping and customs charges. The person who donated the car is checking out with a shipping agency to determine the shipping charges and we are enquiring the custom tax clearance at the port when it shall arrive the Sierra Leone Port.…the cost for the shipping will be determined soon and the customs charges.

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Muslims vs Free Speech

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, E-Magazine, General Information, News, Publications, Regions, Take Action

The recent attack on the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo by gunmen who are understood to be Muslim extremists did remind me of the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper years ago. Violent protests erupted over a series of cartoons which satirized Prophet Mohammad in Denmark. Moreover I was reminded of the murder of Theo Van Gogh who directed a provocative film that talked about women in Islam.

Not to forget in Pakistan we are having a YouTube ban after the release of a film, Innocence of Muslims. The ban is in place since September 2012 and apparently the chances of it being lifted are slim.

I hold the right to freedom of expression very dear and this debate that has been going on for years regarding Muslims versus free speech has always fascinated me. I am somehow shocked to know that people are being killed in the struggle to protect freedom of speech. People are murdered for what? Cartoons!

No wonder I still prefer Captain Planet, a cartoon series in my childhood that talked about saving the planet. A message that did create awareness and let’s not forget didn’t harm anyone.

In an open democratic society freedom of speech is the bedrock but in my opinion it should not include the right to offend. Today we live in a pluralistic society where we face many grave problems already, be it politicization of religion, terrorism and marginalization to name a few. Yes we do live in a multi-cultural society and have diversity hence we need greater limits on free speech. Freedom of speech does not mean the right to offend the sensibilities of others for the sake of enjoying greater power.

When free speech is used merely as a provocation that does not support dialogue or debate as it should then it definitely raises few questions. Is it about opening up a debate or attacking a minority community?

Today the clash between freedom of speech and Muslim sensibilities is becoming a major fault line. In this polemic it is important to note that there is a thin line between freedom to do anything and being offensive and if the equilibrium is maintained we need not to worry. I support freedom of speech but I do not support hate of any kind. In a democracy we already have censorship laws like the libel law and the blasphemy laws (exploited a great deal in many countries like Pakistan). We can’t just say whatever we want to. There are restrictions imposed by the law. Similarly with the freedom of speech which is our fundamental right there comes a responsibility. As civilized, sensible, sensitive and polite human beings, which we rarely are these days, we need to know what to say on a given day in a given format. Freedom of speech is not a western concept; it is a craving of the human soul.

As Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the British civil liberties advocacy organization rightly said on the issue of Muslims vs Free Speech :

“It is important to make a distinction between your legal right in a free society of free speech not unfettered because we don’t want child pornography and incitement to murder so there is always necessary and proportionate limitations on free speech but let’s separate your legal right that I would defend to the death actually from whether as a moral and ethical human being you on a given day in a given format to say this or that. That is really really important. You have a right of free speech but it not your duty to say the most offensive things possible and I must say that free speech is under attack but not for Muslims or Christians or just people of faith but from big brother politicians. It is a bit of a shame that we are talking that it is just about Muslims because it is not. I defend free speech and other liberal value, freedom of expression is incredibly important so why don’t we lead by example if we want to say to the Muslims, as I do in solidarity and friendship, don’t be overly offended by profane cartoons. While stick and stones may break your bones but not cartoons. If we want to say that then why should we be offended by women who choose to wear a headscarf or a hoody or anything else. Everybody is entitled to their human rights but sometimes in a democracy it is minorities who need human rights protection the most.”

This is not a battle between Muslims and the West. This is a battle of messages and counter messages. If some groups promote hate, death, intolerance and destruction- we call for life, pluralism, alliance of civilizations, compassion and peace.