“The Mamusa Declaration is perceived to be the beginning of the end of the Ebola fight in the Northern District of Port Loko. It implies there should be no other Quarantine Homes in any part of the District from now on.” These were the precise words of the Coordinator for the Ebola Response Centre [DERC] in Port Loko District – Hon. Raymond Kabia
He was delivering a keynote address at an impressive ceremony marking the release of the last set of People in Quarantine Homes.
The ceremony which was chaired by Captain Kelly Richards of the British Army, took place at Mamusa, one of the villages situated along the Gberay Junction /Lunsar Highway in the Marampa Chiefdom.
It was a total of 5 Houses and about 26 Inmates of which many had been in quarantine status for over 40 days. As explained by Inspector Sency Koroma and Zachariah Jah both of the Quarantine Desk at the Command and Control Centre in Port Loko, there had been Ebola related cases coming out of those places either before the end of the first 21 Days, or shortly afterwards, which often required a restart of the whole process. They disclosed that those who would have been released a day or two earlier in this last batch, consented to wait for their colleagues so as to enhance a greater impact.
Indeed it turned out to be a very colourful ceremony that attracted a good number of Development Partners including WHO, CDC, UNICEF, Red Cross and PLAN.
In his welcome speech, the Marampa Chiefdom Speaker said they were happy to have come to the end of this long chain. He said the people were getting tired with the long period of the restriction of their movement. He expressed the hope that Ebola will no longer find its way into their beloved Chiefdom.
The Inmates were praised for their cooperation by the representatives of UNICEF, PLAN and the Psychosocial Unit. They viewed the ceremony as a Process instead of an Event. The Representatives of the aforementioned Institutions stressed the need for people to maintain a Neighbourhood Watch and to as well provide Community Support.
Emphasis were also laid on Health and Personal Hygiene.
This was re -echoed by the Coordinator himself when he took the podium for the final set of key messages. He reminded the gathering that over 2000 People had found themselves in Quarantine Homes in various parts of the District since the outbreak of the disease in the Country.
He noted that it would have been extremely difficult for the District to survive those crucial moments if it were not for the imput of the respective Partners. While commending the remarkable efforts of President Koroma, NERC and the Security for the successes so far gained in the fight, Hon. Raymond Kabia said the Mamusa Declaration is about adopting new measures that will make the fight winnable.
Hon. Raymond Kabia said the Declaration should imply that there will be no more any Quarantined Homes in Port Loko. He said the People of Mamusa should see themselves as the inhabitants of the Place where the End of the Ebola fight started in Sierra Leone.
The Port Loko District Coordinator went further to explain how the New Direction requires a lot of emphasis on the establishment of Village Taskforces throughout the District. He said the aim is to make permanent Friends with members of those Committees. Hon. Raymond Kabia said each Committee will comprise of the 5 Members including the Village Headman, Youth Leader, Traditional Healer, Pastor or Imam and will be charged with the responsibility of monitoring every development with regards Ebola and other relevant issues in their respective Localities.
Members are supposed to report their findings to the District Ebola Response Centre [DERC]. He said the fight was not yet over and therefore cautioned against complacency adding that Tonkolili was far above 100 days when a new case emerged to zero their efforts.
Pa Mohamed Kabia –age 80 and Mohamed Conteh age 30 were some of the Family Heads in these quarantined Homes. They said even though so much has been done for them during the quarantine period and were very grateful to all who have contributed in salvaging their lives, yet they have certain concerns they would like the Authorities to address for them.
They told me in an interview that the majority of them are farmers and were quarantined at the peak of their farming activity. They disclosed that their Farms and Fields of nurseries have been flooded. They wondered how they would be able to cope now that they have been released. ‘We are hereby appealing to Government and None Government Organisations to offer us a helping hand.
By Hassan Bruz