Members of Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link witnessed first hand the lasting effect of the deadly Ebola virus on their namesake village during a 10 day visit.
Christine and Richard Lane and Roger Mitchell along with Yvonne Johnson of the Hastings Sierra Leone Association spent their time working with twinned schools and in the Hastings Health Centre in the Twin Town in Sierra Leone. Christine, who is Chair of the Link Health Sub-Committee, says Ebola has clearly had a deep and lasting impact on so much of life in Sierra Leone. “The number of deaths within the communities in and around Hastings was relatively few compared with other parts of the country,” she said. “The National Police Training Academy in Hastings was used as an acute Ebola Treatment Centre. This clearly caused our friends great anxiety initially, lest the disease should escape into the community. As time went on it became clear that the Centre was effectively isolated and was saving very many lives so it became a matter of some pride.”
Roger and Richard spent their visit mainly in schools, rebuilding the links that had been growing so well before the epidemic and Christine concentrated on supporting the work in the Health Centre which has recently been rewired with funds raised by the Rotary Club of St Leonards.
Roger, Schools Liaison coordinator for the Link, says their visit was vital to understand what impact the Ebola outbreak had had on the community, what their priorities are and how they can support their efforts to recover from it. “The front runner, once the Health Centre development is complete, is a covered Market to boost the area’s economy,” he said. “Supporting and helping the local economy recover with projects like this and helping to resource the schools and get children back into education are priorities which the Link will focus on in its future fund raising strategy, alongside further improvements to the Health Centre.”
Fundraising events will be held in the coming year. Donations can be made online through the 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.