Hundreds of Sierra Leoneans and other foreign Nationals have thronged the Sierra Leone Embassy at Washington DC to sign the book of Condolence for the victims of the double tragedy which struck the West African State early in the week.
On Monday, dignitaries from all works of life including high ranking officials from the US Government, Diplomats, Medical Doctors, Human Rights Activists and rank and file American citizens expressed heartfelt sympathy for the loss and requested Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens to convey their deepest sympathy to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone for the untimely loss.
A diplomat signing the BOOK OF condolence (2)
A diplomat signing the Book of Condolence
Many Sierra Leoneans who travelled within states, made early morning trips from as far as Philadelphia, Virginia, Texas, Utah, California, New York and Arizona to the embassy as a mark of respect for those who died.
Churches own by Sierra Leonean pastors met in emergency sessions to pray for the repose of the souls of their compatriots.
The national flag was flown at half-mast at the embassy in respect of the departed while condolences where been expressed.
A front view of the meeting
Ambassador Stevens who doubles as Dean of ECOWAS Ambassadors in welcoming sympathizers, whose faces were all visibly characterized by sadness as they scripted on the pages of the condolence book, were very courageous to write “don’t lose hope, God is with Sierra Leone.”
Amr Bockari Kortu Stevens Opening the Book of Condolence at the– Embassy
Many functions organized for the weekend were postponed and Sierra Leoneans in Washington DC were dressed in black armbands and pin-ups.
Throughout the week, steady streams of sympathizers laid flowers at the embassy’s entrance while a large contingent of international journalists were at the embassy requesting updates of the event.
Amb. Dauda Diabete of Cote D Ivoire (L)
Radio and television carried footage of the disaster and one leading commentator summed up the event as a period of grief never ever witnessed in Washington’s history.
A town Hall meeting of all Sierra Leoneans including members of the different political parties from other states was held to climax the week long mourning in which many organizations made passionate appeals for fundraising to assist all those affected back in Sierra Leone.
A contribution of about four thousand United States Dollars ($4000) in addition to Medical items, Clothes, First Aid kits and some other essential items requested by the Government of Sierra Leone were donated.
Sunday saw a good number of Sierra Leonean Christian clergies of Churches in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and Pennsylvania some of whom include Rev Cannon, Prince Decker, Rev. Dr. Grey Coker, Rev. Gibrilla Sapunka Bangura, Pastor Bhai Kamara, Rev. Sam Pratt, Rev. Gloria Cline Smythe, Rev. Dr. Abdul Sesay, Rev. Sannoh etc. led special prayers for their compatriots.
Meanwhile dozens of condolence messages have been sent to the government of Sierra Leone through the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC.
Ivory Coast Ambassador in the USA Dauda Diabete who also signed the book of condolence noted that “Sierra Leone is not the only Country that is grief stricken.
“May God welcome the souls of the departed and grant speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Ambassador A.Y. Lam of Mauritius said “We are confident Sierra Leone will do its utmost to overcome this difficult situation.”
Ghanaian Head of Chancery E. Asare Abiedu acknowledged that “Ghana joins and shares the pain of the Government and People of Sierra Leone”: noting that “it is sad that when emerging from the ravages of war, and the devastation of Ebola, the Country has again suffers a tragedy of such magnitude.
Burundi’s Charge D Affairs Manirakiza prayed for God’s comfort and grace for the government and people of Sierra Leone, while the Ambassador of cape verdo, Benin, Portugal, Lesotho, Guinea, the Gambia, Sudan, Togo, expressed similar sentiments.
Ambassador Stevens in reply said Words of encouragement expressed by the diplomats in such trying times alleviate anxiety and victims attain comfort.