We are extremely grateful to the many individuals and groups who answered our appeal to help traumatised survivors in the aftermath of the horrific mudslide and flooding disaster in Sierra Leone, which caused so much devastation in the early hours of August 14th. In one day alone at least 500 people lost their lives while around 3,000 were made homeless with hundreds of buildings being damaged or destroyed.
In just a few weeks we raised £3,500 to help provide relief on the front line and were able to ensure every penny reached the community by working in partnership with our colleagues at Build on Books, a charity with a team on the front line in Sierra Leone.
Fortunately, Build on Books has a team of volunteers permanently on the ground in Sierra Leone and with the aid of advance funds from the Friendship Link they were able to respond immediately to bring aid to injured victims and vulnerable survivors. In the first few days of the disaster, their team took many loads of food, water, clothing, shoes, soap etc. to the mudslide survivors in the camps and in Kaningo on the west side of Freetown. Kaningo was hit hard by rampaging floodwaters, which washed away a bridge and destroyed homes. On the same day in Regent, people and homes were swept away or buried in a torrent of raging mud when a hillside collapsed in the early hours of Monday morning.
The first priority was not only to feed survivors and provide them with water but to give them the means to wash and some dry clothes and shoes to wear, as the risk of waterborne diseases and cholera taking hold was an ever-present danger.
The Build on Books team made deliveries to a mother and child camp in the grounds of the Don Bosco orphanage at Tower Hill where there are about 250 mothers and children sleeping on mattresses in big hospital tents. The team brought them food and water, baby milk and plenty of protein for the children which included tins of sardines and cereal. Clothing was especially urgent as most of the survivors escaped in only their underwear. The team brought them flip-flops and clothing by the bale.
However, after speaking to the survivors the team also returned with traditional Sierra Leonean fabric wraps for the women so they might feel more comfortable and dignified. Plenty of buckets, plates, cups, utensils and nappies were also handed out. Additionally, they brought radios so the women could find out what was going on outside the camp to help them to feel less isolated, and also to provide music to soothe the children.
They also delivered supplies to the Connaught Hospital where there were injured survivors in intensive care and in the wards, who had been caught up in the mudslide. However, many of the injured people had just been discharged and moved to the grounds of St Georges Foundation in Grafton, so the team followed them there. Some families had been given scout huts to stay in while they recover but they had little else.
The funds raised by the Link enabled the team on the ground to give them plenty of food, water, clothing, soap, buckets, blankets and pillows to help them settle in and start on the long road to recovery. Subsequently, the team also helped with their transportation back to the hospital for physiotherapy and to have their dressings changed. Funds from the Friendship Link also helped provide their dressings and a trip to the pharmacy by the team ensured that their prescriptions were filled and they were given the painkillers, antibiotics and other medication that they needed too.
The valuable contributions from Friendship Link supporters helped make a difference in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and we are grateful to our colleagues in the Build on Books team for delivering the aid on the front line. This has demonstrated the value of partnership working between charities in ensuring every penny raised reaches those who need it.
Now the immediate crisis is under control and aid from other larger agencies is beginning to reach these communities it is time for us to refocus our efforts on supporting the community in Hastings Village. The disaster appeal is therefore now closed and all monies raised from now on will be directed toward projects to support the community and schools in the Hastings area. Watch for news of new projects and fundraising events on this page and on our website at www.hastingshastings.org.uk
Thank you once again for your support now and in the future.