On behalf of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) partners, staff and management, the Protected Area Manager Alusine S. Fofanah has on Thursday 18th September 2014 presented a cheque worth Le35m (Thirty Five million Leones) to the Kenema District Ebola Task Force as a generous contribution towards the fight against the Ebola disease in the country.
The presentation ceremony took place at the office of the Resident Minister East Maya M. Kaikai at Maxwell Khobe Street in Kenema in the presence of members of the Kenema District Ebola Task Force Committee and other stakeholders.
Formally presenting the cheque the Protected Area Manager of GRNP Alusine Fofanah said the contribution is in line with response to the president’s call on partners, multinational companies and individuals to join the fight against the Ebola outbreak. He said the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and then Sierra Leone has placed the GRNP under difficult situation over the last couple of months, and this necessitates management decision to cease field activities and close the office to the public and non essential staff.
He said due to the increasing number of Ebola cases in and around Kenema city, and Management’s responsibility for the health and safety of its staff, GRNP decided to close the office entirely with the exception of the security personnel and minimal administrative staff to maintain the payroll. The technical advisers who are foreign nationals were asked by the partners to leave the country, but have been working remotely with GRNP management in Sierra Leone.
The Protected Area Manager went on to say that since the closure of the office in June 2014, GRNP has been monitoring the Ebola epidemic situation in the country very seriously, as well as reporting to the partners the situation on the ground.
He said due to the escalation of the Ebola virus disease resulting in numerous deaths of medical personnel and other people in the country, and considering the socio-economic constraints as a result of the epidemic, GRNP decided to make a generous contribution to the Kenema District Ebola Task Force in the sum of Le35M to help fight against the disease. According to the protected manager the money is split into two main areas: Eleven Million Leones (Le11m) as unrestricted contribution to the Task Force to fight the disease and Twenty four Million Leones (Le24m) as restricted contribution to purchase food and non food items like rice, maggie, salt and soap for the seven Gola chiefdoms (Gaura, Nomo, Koya, Tunkia, Malema, Bari and Makpele). He said all goods purchased should be directed to the respective Gola Community Development Committees (GCDC) of the seven chiefdoms, and the GCDCs will then be responsible for the distribution amongst their communities.
Alusine Fofanah further explained that the Task Force as expected will coordinate the procurement and distribution of the relief items to the seven chiefdoms and GRNP will be overseeing the distribution to the Gola communities.
He thanked the Kenema District Ebola Task Force for their relentless efforts in the fight against the disease, and also thanked the government of Sierra Leone, individuals and other organizations for their various contributions towards the eradication of the disease in the country and prayed that the souls of those who lost their lives as a result of the disease rest in perfect peace.
In his statement the Kenema District Council Chairman Dr Senesie Mansaray expressed gratitude and thanked GRNP for the donation to fight against the Ebola disease. He said as an indigene of one of the seven chiefdoms he is proud of the donation, adding that a friend in need is a friend indeed, describing GRNP as a friend indeed. He however appealed to GRNP to do more as the battle is still on to fight the disease.
The Paramount Chief’s representative on the Task Force PC Al-Amin Kanneh of Koya chiefdom thanked GRNP for the donation referring to himself as the giver and receiver of the donation, because he hails from one of the Gola chiefdoms and also part of the Task Force committee. He said he is not surprised about the donation because their relationship with GRNP as partners is cordial and assures GRNP that the support will reach the intended beneficiaries.
Formally receiving the cheque on behalf of the District Ebola Task Force the Resident Minister East Maya Moiwo Kaikai thanked GRNP for their timely intervention. He said government activities are constrained at the moment as the Ebola disease has put a stop to many economic activities. He said as government it has been difficult for them to meet most of their responsibilities since the outbreak in the country, adding that they are looking forward to partners for financial and moral assistance. As government representative in the eastern region he continued, the Task Force is working round the clock to complement the efforts of His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to end the Ebola crises. The Minister explained that as government they appreciate the effort of the Task Force, general public, fourth estate, human right, civil society, security forces, and medical personnel among others who have all decided to make sacrifices in the fight against the dreadful disease. He described the Ebola disease as a war against innocent people of this country.
He assured all and sundry that as a result of the efforts of all stakeholders the epidemic is subsiding in the district but needed more sacrifices and contributions from other people to completely break the chain of transmission. “As a government we are not only grateful of the contribution GRNP has made but also grateful for their corporate responsibilities to the seven chiefdoms in the three districts of Kailahun, Kenema and Pujehun.” The Minister pointed out that the government is aware of the operations of GRNP in the country by not only providing job opportunities but also helped in protecting the Gola Rainforest national park which is key in our bid to fight global warming. He thanked GRNP for what they are doing and assured them of his continuous support and that the message of their donation will go far and wide in the country.
Similar sentiments were made by Bunting Grading of the Office of the National Security (ONS) in the eastern region.
By Saffa Moriba
Tuesday September 23, 2014