By Abdul Karim Koroma :
The Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Addis Ababa on Thursday 8th January 2015 held an Interfaith Prayer Service for Sierra Leone at the Embassy’s Chancery.
The Interfaith Prayer Service aimed at offering prayers for the country as the New Year commences especially at this time when the country is faced with an emergency situation in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
Solemn prayers were offered for His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Republic of Sierra Leone by the Bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, representatives of the Ethiopian Islamic community, the Bishop of the Catholic Church of Ethiopia and other Christian denominations.
The event was attended by a cross section of the Diplomatic Community resident in Addis Ababa, the Sierra Leonean Community and friends of Sierra Leone.
Please find attached the welcome address of Sierra Leone’s Envoy to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union- Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara.
Welcome Address by Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara during the Interfaith Prayer Service for Sierra Leone
AMBASSADOR KEH KAMARA GIVES THE OPENING STATEMENT
Colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
The Bishop – Ethiopian Orthodox Church and entourage,
The Representatives- Ethiopian Islamic Community,
The Bishop – Ethiopian Catholic Church and entourage,
The Head – Ethiopian Evangelical Church and entourage,
The Head – Ethiopian Pentecostal Church and entourage
Members of the Sierra Leonean Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Sierra Leone Embassy, I would like to warmly welcome you to this Interfaith Prayer Service for Sierra Leone. As you all know Sierra Leone is fighting a tough battle against one of the deadliest diseases ever recorded in the history of the planet. According to the latest SLBC EBOLA UPDATE broadcast on 7th January 2015, a total number of 2607 Sierra Leoneans have succumbed to the evil Ebola Virus Disease, 1908 survivors and 7641 confirmed cases across the country.
Honorable Men of God, Excellencies; the negative impact of EBOLA virus disease on all facet of the country cannot be over-emphasized. Sierra Leone’s economy once described as the second fastest growing in the world with a growth rate of 14% in the first quarter of 2014, is now at a standstill. Apart from border blockade imposed on us by some countries, Sierra Leoneans face stigmatization whenever they travel out of the country. Not to mention the possible negative ramifications of post-Ebola era on the entire fabric of the Sierra Leonean Society.
THE BISHOP OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH GIVING PRAYERS
Since May 2014 when the EVD struck, the Government has embarked upon plethora of strides to halt this marauding virus. These include: declaration of a state of health emergency; a three day lockdown designed to bring vital Ebola containment messages to the people; establishment of Ebola Emergency Operations Center (now transformed to National Ebola Response Center – NERC) and establishment of several treatment centers and laboratories across the country. To a large extent, the aptitude of Sierra Leonean health workers to diagnose and treat Ebola cases has increased considerably. In November 2014, we saw an exponential increase in the number of infection rate in the country but with recent containment measures put in place by the Government in collaboration with the international community, we are now experiencing a gradual decline in the number of new cases.
THE BISHOP OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ( RIGHT ) AND DELEGATION
Despite this progress, we still have much to do including Devine intervention in the fight against this dreadful disease in Sierra Leone. We need every spiritual armory including the Biblical sling used by David against Goliath as well as the Quranic invisible birds that descended on the army of infidels. It is our firm belief that Devine intervention is integral in the final onslaught against the Ebola virus disease.
Honorable Men of God, Excellencies, Compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen; on 29th December 2014, I called my Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Dr. Samura M. Kamara and informed him about my plans to organize an interfaith prayer service for Sierra Leone in the first week of January 2015 on a date convenient for the Heads of the Christian and Muslim communities in Addis Ababa. Coincidentally, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his New Year Address to the nation inter-alia proclaimed seven days of prayers and fasting for the Country. Excerpt from His Excellency’s Address to the nation reads as follows:
“…We are people of faith, a people who believe that without God’s intervention, we struggle in vain. With the consent of religious leaders, we hereby declare seven days of prayers, fasting and charity with effect from today 1st January 2015.
THE MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE
Our Muslim Leaders teach us that God is closer to us than the veins in our necks, and He has commanded us to call on Him in prayers, for He is ever ready to answer the call of His people. We have put in place mechanisms to secure our country from this evil virus; but the Bible teaches us that except the Lord keep the city, the watchman watches in vain. Today I ask all to commit our actions to the grace, mercy and protection of God Almighty…”
This policy statement fortified our resolve to organize this one day interfaith prayer service for the nation on a day after we have completed the seventh day of fasting. We are gratified immensely for honoring our invitation. We therefore beseech you to pray for our President for continue political and spiritual wisdom as well as enlighten leadership as He guides the nation through this tough battle. To pray for victory against this evil virus; for the inequities of the nation; for a booming economy in post-Ebola era; for the protection of health workers; the speedy recovery of those infected; and for God’s mercy on those who succumbed to the disease.
I thank you for your kind attention.