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Global crises 2021: Coronavirus in Sierra Leone

30 December 2021
Africa - Sierra Leone - Coronavirus Kayode workshop

Kayode Akintola, CAFOD’s representative for Sierra Leone, presents a coronavirus prevention workshop to faith leaders in Freetown.

Each and every year, your generosity makes such a difference to the lives of people who have lived through crises. Without you, so many more lives would be lost. 2021 was no different. 

From the earthquake in Haiti, to the conflict in Ethiopia, to the ongoing difficulties the Rohingya people are facing in Bangladesh, your generosity, kindness and compassion continued to play a major part in keeping people around the world healthy and alive.

COVID in 2021

COVID brought a terrible sense of shared experience to our global community. We have all been affected in some way by the virus – whether it be isolating, becoming unwell or even losing loved ones. 

The shock of this virus is still being felt in every corner of the globe.

As we go through another Christmas living with the pandemic in the UK, Sierra Leone Country Manager Kayode Akintola tells us about the experience of Sierra Leoneans. 

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A stretched health system

“We have one of the most stretched health systems in the world. From here in the capital, Freetown, I sometimes worry that we’ll be back to the days of Ebola. I am concerned when I know there are dedicated nurses and doctors – just like with Ebola – trying to treat people and save the lives of people, all the while they are risking their own lives. We don’t have easy access to oxygen in more remote parts of the country."

Difficulties social distancing

"The World Health Organization and Sierra Leonean health officials advise social distancing, but you can imagine how difficult that is in places where houses are side-by-side, and where generations of families live together."

Isolating but needing to work

"Some of the problems we face are that isolating to protect yourself, your family and your community means you can’t farm your land to grow food, or go to work to buy enough to eat. 

"There can be a shortage of water in some parts of the country, so handwashing is extremely difficult when you need to make sure your family has enough to drink."

Affording masks on little money

"We’re also encouraged to wear masks, but masks are 50 cents each – money that some families can’t afford."

Helping people

"We have been reaching out to families throughout the country. Near the border with Liberia, we have been providing simple, cloth masks to communities. We have been able to give emergency food to people who were hungry because of restrictions. And we have been working with communities throughout the country to help with safe hygiene."

Your support and what it means

"This would not have been possible without the kindness of people in England and Wales and the teams throughout Sierra Leone who have been working bravely throughout this terrible crisis."

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An emergency and a long-term development issue

"We talk about a difference between emergencies and long-term development as if the two are separate and never meet. But in an emergency like COVID, for the poorest people here and around the world, there is very little difference. People need food urgently. They need clean water urgently. They need healthcare urgently.

"I would ask you to pray for your sisters and brothers in Sierra Leone and around the world in the coming year."

Factbox 1

During the coronavirus outbreak, CAFOD has funded the Handmaid Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus to provide personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses at the Handmaids Catholic Health Clinic & Maternity Unit, Sierra Leone.

Join us in praying for all those affected by coronavirus around the world.