The Office of National Security (ONS) has ended a two days sensitization training workshop for thirty teachers on disaster risk prevention at the Kenema City Council (KCC) conference room along Reservation road in Kenema city.
Officially opening the workshop the chairman of the ceremony who is also the Deputy Provincial Secretary East F.M. Jiba thanked the ONS for organising such a workshop adding that training teachers in reducing risk is a good move as teachers have a large constituent that they command.
Talking to a teacher means you are almost talking to the entire community he said. “Whatever message they receive will go down to the grassroots, the teacher will talk to the children and the children in turn will talk to their parents and the community at large” he noted.
Mr Jiba says disaster risk prevention has been in our society for a very long time, that is why two of the months of the year according to the Mende language and are named after the time when they should prevent disaster. He explained that the month of March is the hottest time of the year, and that is the time the sun is on the equator and it is found directly over head.
The month of September comes during the thick of the raining season which also is recognized in the Mende language as depicting disaster prevention. He says March is called in mende ‘Nyagoi’ meaning to fine the women. That is the time they have thatch houses in the village, and the village authority requests the women to put off all the fire when the bell is rung and all to ensure that they store water in their huts with the intention to prevent fire accident. Any woman who fails to go by the instruction is fined. The month of September is call Saah meaning in mende law, banning, we will not allow it, that is the time they put laws in the river not to use any canoe on any of the rivers they have in their communities to prevent disaster. He says there are signs that depict disaster which the people have been following in the past, he appealed to all and sundry not to forget about the past ideas that were used to prevent disasters.
Contributing the officer from the Ministry of Education Youths and Spot Peter Vandi who represented the Deputy Director of Education (DDE) John Amara Swarray thanked ONS for their brilliant move in sensitization the reservoir of knowledge. He commended the Disaster Management Department in the Office of National Security for bringing this idea to teachers, and appealed to them to make sure that they cover the entire country. He assured the organisers of the ministry’s fullest cooperation at all times. He called on the ONS to ensure that the disaster films are played in schools to give more insight to school pupils there by helping the situation.
In her statement the Director of Disaster Management in the Office of National Security Mary Mye Kamara says the Disaster Management Department in the Office of National Security has existed and has been covering various schools but now that they are targeting teachers, it is a very good move in the country. She says Sierra Leone is fortunate at not having a lot of natural disasters as it is happening in other countries especially Europe and Asia. She ended by quoting Kofi Annan who said “Building a culture of prevention is not easy. While the costs of prevention have to be paid in the present, its benefits lie in the distant future. Moreover, the benefits are not tangible; they are the disasters that did not happen. (Kofi Annan 1999)”.
She appealed to all to take the training very seriously and to make use of the knowledge of the workshop to a wider community.
By Saffa Moriba