A small team of Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link members are flying out to the twin town in Sierra Leone today (Wednesday) to explore first-hand what else the Link can do to aid the recovery from the Ebola Crisis.
Roger Mitchell, Christine and Richard Boulton-Lane have accompanied Yvonne Johnson, from the Hastings Sierra Leone Association in London, on the trip to Sierra Leone.
Richard Homewood, chair of the Link said: “We have managed to maintain links with our partners in Hastings, Sierra Leone throughout the Ebola crisis but it has been an extremely difficult and frustrating time.
“We have continued to raise funds and send out money for food aid and for medical equipment.
“We also managed to send a container of equipment and supplies last November for the health centre and the twinned schools.
“Communication has been difficult and information on what they need most to help them recover has been patchy.
“It has not been possible to visit since February 2014 so It is extremely frustrating, especially as we know the impact of the Ebola outbreak on the village has been huge.
“We are extremely pleased that we are at last able to send a small team out to see for themselves.”
Roger Mitchell, the schools liaison coordinator for the Link added: “With schools closed for over a year, the excellent progress we had achieved with our school twinning and teacher exchange programmes has suffered a real setback.
“It is vital that we understand how we can help our Sierra Leone colleagues get children, especially young girls back into schools and education.
“Maintaining and developing the links between UK and SL schools is now even more critical if they are to recover from this.”
Roger will also be meeting the village leaders to understand what the priorities for the community are and explore what the Link can do to help them achieve those priorities.
Christine Boulton-Lane, chair of the health sub-committee, is anxious to see what the situation is with the health centre in the village.
She explained: “I have been in regular contact with the management of the health centre and we have been able to send supplies and equipment to them throughout the crisis.
“We were also extremely grateful to our colleagues in St Leonards’ Rotary Club who worked hard to raise funds for the re-wiring of the health centre to ensure a reliable electricity supply for lighting and equipment.
“The health centre was vital for providing health care for the community alongside the Ebola Treatment Centres.
“I am keen to see for myself how the things we sent out have helped and what else we can do to help the centre improve the health of the community, reduce infant mortality and tackle the ongoing battles with malaria and HIV which have continued unabated whilst the focus was on Ebola.”
Richard continued: “We will await their reports back with anticipation and will use their feedback to help us refocus the Link Strategy on the priorities identified by the community and their leaders.
“It is vitally important that we understand what the community priorities are and what they can do for themselves with help from us.
“We will be publishing our revised strategy later this year and use it to re-energise and focus our fundraising on those priorities.
“We will then start planning our next visit to Sierra Leone to help deliver those priorities.
“We are keen to welcome new members to the Link and build on the well-established programme of support for our Twin Town as it seeks to recover from the Ebola outbreak.”
Donations can be made online through our website www.hastingshastings.org.uk or by cheque to Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link or HSLFL at HSLFL Treasurer, 33 Senlac Way, St. Leonards on Sea, TN37 7JG.
* Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.hastingsobserver.co.uk
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hastingsobserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @HastingsObs
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Hastings Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.