From the tick of invoking the spirit of God and Allah, to the reflection and Silence in remembrance of Ebola victims, to the solemn lightning of candles for each victim of the medical profession (Medical Doctors, Nurses, Porters, Cook, members of the burial Team, Drivers, Cleaners, Dispensers, Nursing Aids etc.), Sierra Leoneans from all works of life from different States in the United States of America, who attended an inter faith memorial service on Saturday November 7th, 2015, developed a feeling of somberness, broken and visibly wept to commemorate the official declaration of Sierra Leone “Ebola Free”.
“Ebola killed our brothers, Sisters, Mothers, Fathers, Grand Parents and loved ones. Ebola left us with pains in our minds, destroyed our health sector, Shatter our Economy and has left us in misery: but thank God all is not lost” Said Rev. Gloria Cline Smythe. In her opening prayers at a thanksgiving service marking the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Organized by the Ebola Task Force put together by the Embassy of Sierra Leone the Interfaith (Muslim & Christian) Service was held at the City of Light Church Hall on 520 Randolph Road Maryland from noon to 5:00pm.
It saw different Muslim clerics and Christian Member of the clergy not only praised God for the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone, but also invoking the power of the most high God/Allah to prevent the reoccurrence of such a catastrophe in that part of the globe.
The service was characterized by tributes to the bereaved families, widows, widowers, orphans, single parents, and thanksgiving to God/Allah for the people of Sierra Leone including the leadership – President Ernest Bai Koroma, whose commitment, patriotism and fortitude led to a Country that is now been referred to “ A Post Ebola Country”.
Chief Imam Teslim Alghali and Imam Alie Sesay of Ebeleh Mosque cited several qur’anic verses and surah for the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW) to pardon the dead their sins, strength for the weak, courage for the broken hearted, hope for the hopeless and provision for bereaved families to take care of loved ones and for Allah to prevent future occurrence of Ebola and other deadly virus in Sierra Leone.
Rev. Cannon Dr. Grey Coker, Rev. Dr. Abdul Sesay Host Pastor, Rev. Dr. Noel William Lewis, Rev. Gloria Cline – Smythe, joined the congregation and sang lustily in chorus, praising and worshiping God, coupled with a period of introspection and dedication. Other men of God present were Pastor Mustapha Konneh, Pastor Bobson Bangura, and Pastor Chris Timi etc.
In his keynote Address, Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens thanked God Almighty for the success of the government and people of Sierra Leone, over the Ebola virus disease and replicated President Ernest Bai Koroma’s speech.
“The disease challenged the very foundations of our humanity. We had to change the way we grew up caring for sick relatives; the way we mourned loved ones; the way we showed affection when greeting each other. And we complied with necessary but difficult restrictions on movement and traditional practices.” Said Amb. Stevens quoting President Koroma.
He said Ebola Virus disease is alien to Sierra Leone and “the world at large was astounded by the ferocity of the virus in our sub-region. “Everybody was learning new facts about Ebola, and some of the advice we received from the experts at the earlier stages of the outbreak proved less effective in fighting the virus.
“By the time the experts mastered the tools to attack the evil virus in our region, too many lives had been lost, too many wrong turns made; too many actions taken that intensified the isolation of our country and halted the great strides we were taking to improve the economic and social life of our people.” Said Amb. Stevens quoting President Ernest Bai Koroma.
According to him, more than Eight Thousand Sierra Leoneans were infected and more than Three Thousand of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters died. “We lost more than two hundred healthcare workers including eleven doctors.
He Praised the extraordinary actions of the international community and expressed gratitude to them for their solidarity, heroism and bravery of the thousands of international Ebola Response Workers, who answered to the President and People of Sierra Leone’s call for action against the greatest enemy the West African Nations has ever seen.
The second segment saw Chairman of the Ebola Task Force Dr, Ibrahima Diallo, giving a synopsis of the formation of the Ebola Task force, and paid tribute to all those in the diaspora that participated in making the Ebola fight a success.
It also saw Dr. Austin Demby broadening the horizon of attendees about lessons learnt during the eighteen months of Ebola in Sierra Leone. He also narrated in realistic terms the way the common man was affected, the challenges of Government and the input of the international community and the resolve of Sierra Leoneans to fight the scourge.
Mr. Melvin Foote a distinguished African – American who is also the Chairman of Constituency for Africa (CFA) praised President Ernest Bai Koroma, Amb. Bockari Stevens and the people of Sierra Leone for their resolve to end Ebola in Sierra Leone.
He said Amb. Stevens effort brought all Sierra Leoneans in the United States together and successfully transform the Ebola virus fight from that of Sierra Leone’s, to the International Community.
His Excellency Amadu Koroma Deputy Ambassador of Sierra Leone’s Mission to the United Nations gave a briefing on contributions on the part of the United Nations.
He said the United Nations passed two resolutions to help fight Ebola and praised the efforts of Mr. Ban Ki-moon who also helped raised funds to help fight the scourge.
The program which was chaired by Mr. David Buakei Vandy also saw a call to Action
; Diaspora Engagement in post Ebola Strengthening of Sierra Leone health sector , and the recognition of Health care workers and families.
The lightning of candles to honor health workers supervised by Ms. Milly Terry and the pouring of libation by Sierra Leone’s Consul to Texas Mr. Patrick Jackson formed the highlight of the program.
Also In attendance were members of the diplomatic corps including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia and Guinea. United States of America.
Pasco Gerald Temple
Embassy of Sierra Leone to the United States
1701 19th St. NW