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24/11/2015 - Sierra Leone - Hope after Ebola for the people of Kumbrabai, thanks to a new well

(ANS - Kumbrabai) – Kumbrabai is a small village in the interior of Sierra Leone, 100 kilometres from the capital, Freetown. It knows what it means to suffer the stigma of Ebola. The epidemic hit the population hard and a third of its inhabitants died from the virus. It is now free from Ebola and, thanks to the Salesians, it sees the rebirth of hope. It comes from the construction of a well that will allow the people to preserve their health and improve crops.

Kumbrabai is far from the main road and from other villages and can be reached only through country roads. It is located in an area surrounded by dense vegetation and in the rainy season it becomes marshland. The village has brick houses and, like everywhere else in Sierra Leone, there are many children.

The first case of Ebola in the village occurred in July 2014. This was followed by many others, but at first everyone thought it was the result of witchcraft. Meanwhile the village witnessed many deaths and many more who were infected. Out of 270 residents, 82 died and 65 infected people ran away – nothing is known of them. Only 12 have recovered from the disease.

There are families in which all the members have died, others where only one survived... but since Ebola came, nothing has been the same in Kumbrabai. The village has been stigmatized even by its own people, who do not want to enter houses where someone has died. People from other villages will not have anything to do with Kumbrabai.

The Salesians have been helping Kumbrabai throughout this period and have pledged to continue to do so now when Ebola seems to have left Sierra Leone. During the epidemic they helped with frequent visits, caring for the people and distributing food and water. Now they want to help with concrete projects that improve people's lives and enable them to find hope.

The construction of a well is the first step for the inhabitants of Kumbrabai to have better living conditions and learn healthy habits. Up to now, a small swamp of dirty water was used for the bathroom, the laundry, for drinking and to water their animals.

With this new well built by the Salesians, Kumbrabai will also improve the crops.  Previously two-thirds of the crops were lost directly due to weather conditions, pests and water shortages.

There will be other similar projects such as the distribution of seeds, teaching new farming techniques for crop improvement and the creation of a local school where the children can be educated.

Published 24/11/2015

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