Sierra Leonean students pursuing different fields of academia in various cities in the People’s Republic of China on Thursday, 19th February kicked off their Annual Convention in Beijing, China’s capital, an event bringing students together to discuss issues of interest to their welfare. The theme for this year’s event is “Effect of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) In the Three Mano River Union Countries with Particular Focus on Sierra Leone”
The EVD outbreak, she said, saw a number of the country’s “international partners standing by the country” whilst expressing gratitude to them “and especially to the Chinese Government and the Chinese people for their wonderful assistance to Sierra Leone in the fight against Ebola.”The situation, she said, has been considerably put under control as President Ernest Bai Koroma has lifted travel restrictions; the incidence of outbreaks and contractions have been limited to Freetown and its immediate environs in decreasing trend. “The government of H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma has provided stout leadership to fight Ebola” she said.
Speaking further, Madam Momoh said, the EVD outbreak affected every aspect of society and our social life in Sierra Leone has been considerably altered. “Our expression of love by cultural embraces and handshakes has been interrupted. The temporal travel restrictions set families apart and some families may live with that separation forever. The Education Sector which is the worst affected has witnessed unwanted teenage pregnancies and alternative engagements are recording many young people dropping out of school. Agricultural activities have been abandoned because of Ebola. Majority of Sierra Leoneans are today without adequate food.”
According to Deputy Momoh, families have lost loved ones, children who survived their parents continue to suffer the harsh realities of life, and economic activities have come to a halt since the outbreak. “Trade and investment, mining, transports…have been brought to a standstill. Our international stature has been dwarfed with restrictions on flights to and from Sierra Leone and the sub-region. Most painful has been the great loss of patriotic members of our medical profession. But even worse is the stigma Ebola bears on the dignity of the Sierra Leonean.”
As a result, she said, Government has committed huge unbudgeted expenditure to the fight against the virus as the country’s Medical Sector has been invigorated with both national and international support. “Government has put mechanisms in place to ensure improved medical facilities throughout the country. Facilities are put in place to boost our District Medical Service. More healthcare facilities are being provided, and existing facilities are revamped to provide easy and better healthcare access for every Sierra Leonean, everywhere.”
Assuring the students, Madam Momoh said, the Government will not abandon its efforts to improve upon wage packages in Sierra Leone to maintain and attract trained personnel as “human resource development shall receive greater emphasis to upgrade our country’s work force with competent and qualified Sierra Leoneans in all fields, especially in the medical field”, thus appealing to students to go back home and contribute to the recovery scheme after their studies in China.
Further, Madam Momoh said, Government will fast tract the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity so as to attract investment and expand the level of the country’s employment opportunities for young, competent Sierra Leoneans. “The principles of good governance would continue to guide Government to uphold the democratic practice. The Government of H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma will continue to work very closely with the international community.” she assured.
Concluding, she called on students to note that the relations between Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China are based on the core principle of the One China Policy and that students are expected “ to be guided by this policy in the course” of their studies.
Chairing the opening session was Denis Kargbo, a post graduate student. The climax of the convention shall be the election of a new Executive that will push the affairs of the Union for the next one year. Meanwhile, two aspirants have declared their interest for the Presidency, namely Adikali Sesay (PhD candidate) and Abdulai Fallah Tengbeh, pursing a post graduate Master degree.
John Baimba Sesay
Sierra Leone Embassy
People’s Republic of China