News from Sierra Leone
COVID 19 VS WATERLOO COMMUNITY
Waterloo is a planned iron-grid structured settlement founded in 1819 for ex African combatants disbanded from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Later ex-Africans slaves captives also settled there.
Coincidentally, this settlement was destroyed during the 11 years of civil War in Sierra Leone. About six years ago Ebola struck and had a great impact in our community.Now the invisible deadly virus called Corona and renamed Covid 19 is back with us uninvited.
The Covid 19 pandemic, which has caused thousands of deaths worldwide, is in Sierra Leone and Waterloo in particular.Its effects are vivid everywhere.
The principal negative effect is that members of the community are all worried when they remembered what Ebola did to them.Now no one trusts anymore especially when all are now aware that some carriers of Covid 19 could be asymptomatic.There are no longer social gatherings. Video halls where youths used to watch football leagues, especially premier leagues are closed. All churches and mosques are closed.People feel so depressed because they are not able to congregate to worship God/Allah.The usual chiming of church bells on Sunday mornings and the Azan from minarets have disappeared into thin air. No more commercial motorbikes are in our streets to convey worshipers to their various churches on Sunday morning. This affects their income generation.
The inter district movement restrictions have affected the prices of foodstuffs as most food items cannot reach the community. The limited ones lead to higher demands and hence traders increase their prices.Traders can hardly afford to get passes to get to the sources of most food items. Fruits, such as mangoes and avocados perish.
Schools are closed and most children now trade in the crowded markets centres. It has been observed that many girls are now pregnant and can’t go back to school on reopening. Young boys can be seen parading the streets and generally don’t observe social distancing.
Many people, especially suckling mothers are now afraid to go to health centre because a nurse working there was infected by Covid 19.The compound where she lives has been quarantined and I learnt that a few more who tested positive have been moved away. A few shops in this compound along the Freetown-Waterloo highway have been closed affecting their businesses.Food for these people is a challenge.
This disease has generally affected the socio- economic fabrics of our community as it has gone through a cumulative war, Ebola and now Covid 19.
The main positive effect is that people are now used to observing personal hygiene as hand washing is common because Veronica buckets, soap etc provided by organisations including Waterloo Partnership, are almost everywhere. Face masks are also being worn in public places but the majority don’t comply as some cannot afford to buy them or deliberately don’t want to use them as they complain of suffocation in the heat.
We wish to thank all our donors for their past and anticipated future support since Ebola and now the fight against Covid 19 in order to compliment Government’s effort.