By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
Vice President Victor Foh receives cheque of Le100 million from AWOL
Cross-section of AWOL members pose with VP Foh after the presentation
The Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Victor Bockarie Foh, has appealed to the All Works of Life development organization (AWOL), to partner with the Government for the construction of more permanent structures to cater for victims of the recent mudslide and flood in Freetown and for future disasters.
“AWOL is a big name and we are seeing what you are doing for country and for people. You are such a formidable organization that looks at a whole of other issues, humanitarian inclusive. I therefore want to appeal that you partnership with Government so that we could succeed in our bid for more permanent structures built away from Freetown for victims of our recent disaster and, most importantly, for the future,” said Vice President Foh.
The Vice President was speaking Monday 18th September at his Tower Hill office during AWOL’s formal presentation of a cheque of Le100 million as the organisation’s ‘small’ contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund.
According to Foh, the Government is putting structures in place for a more permanent solution to the current crisis. He said Government has acquired land at Mile 6 area beyond Waterloo, and they are trying to build structures (affordable homes) that could stand ready for such disasters.
The capital city Freetown woke up on Monday August 14th to the horrible shock of mudslide and flood calamity that took away the lives of hundreds of people. According to Foh, “those we have discovered, found dead and buried are in excess of 500 now; and we do believe that far more than that number are still in the rubble. Bodies were found far away as along the coast of Conakry, Guinea”.
Foh described the incident as “a calamity, a natural disaster, and act of God”, and that it took Government by the greatest surprise.
“We are really saddled with problems; the sea on one side and the hills on the other side, and a narrow strip of land we are in between. So we are trying to move the city a little bit; bit by bit, into safer grounds,” he said.
Foh said that national or natural calamities are difficult to handle, but as a nation there must be a national plan in place to cater for disasters when they do come.
“It’s difficult to plan but then we have to plan,” he said.
However, Foh lamented that it is unfortunate that even in such a difficult situation some people are still going in to pretend that they were affected when they are not. He said they are the people who try to give all the adverse publicity on what is not the real issue on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Vice President thanked AWOL for the donation and assured that the money would be used for its intended purpose.
“On behalf of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the Government and People of Sierra Leone, and more especially the victims, we thank you for this kind donation,” said Foh.
He continued: “We are happy to receive this as a government. You call it small, but to us it is a big gesture. We are very proud of an organization such as this. I can only say that please continue; continue to stand by the people of this country; continue to do what you are doing, it is a good job. We see your foot prints everywhere, and not in bad stead at all.”
Earlier, before presenting the donation on behalf of the global body, the Chairman of AWOL Amb Anthony Navo Jnr gave a brief background of the organization, emphasizing its policy of complementing the effort of the government of the day in nation building and its philosophy of giving back since it was founded in 2001.
This is not the first time AWOL has intervened in humanitarian crisis situations in the country although, according to Amb. Navo, they would have loved for such interventions to be made in the absence of disasters.
It could be recalled that on January 16th 2010 AWOL intervened in a humanitarian situation at Fogbo village, in the Koya Rural District, where fire gutted about 48 houses and rendered more than 500 people homeless. AWOL was the first organisation that mobilized resources and travelled to Fogbo to sympathise with the victims by donating bundles of zinc, bags of rice, clothing and footballs. AWOL’s intervention was planned and executed within 48hrs.
That prompt and decisive humanitarian move by AWOL turned the spotlight on the remote village of Fogbo which led to more donations from other well-meaning organisations and individuals.
On the issue of partnership with Government, Amb Navo assured the Vice President of AWOL’s full cooperation as long as it is in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone.
“AWOL has always supported the Government of the day,” he said. “Our responsibility is to the Government and People of Sierra Leone, and we always put our country’s interest above all else.”