The most heartfelt legacy of Sierra Leone’s civil war are the men and women whose arms and limbs were hacked off leaving them physically challenged and poor; against this backdrop Sierra Leone Bottling Company (SLBC) has empowered over thirty (30) amputees.
At the SLBC New England compound over the weekend, beneficiaries of the SLBC- ‘support the amputee in entrepreneurship’ initiative were given two crates of soft drinks, an umbrella with a table, and an icebox as a business startup to make the amputees self-reliant in order to debar them from the degrading act of begging.
Chairman of the occasion and also Member of Parliament (MP), Physically Challenged Activists Hon. Julius Nye Cuffie, explained that it is a brilliant initiative, adding that “it is good that the private sector has started recognizing people with disability.”
He explained that the whole concept regarding disability is to recognize the physically challenged. “People do not often recognize the physically challenged, as a result they do not have the strength or vision to push forward; often resulting to minimal contribution towards national development,” he said.
Cuffie appealed “to other companies to follow the line to ensure that people with disability are able to live independently with dignity and respect so that they would contribute to national development rather than being a liability to engage in begging for life sustenance.”
SLBC’s General Manager Eric Djibo said “the company recognizes the plight of the less fortunate brothers and sisters in our society and therefore feels morally obliged to start a business initiative which would improve their standard of living in the long run.”
“We are putting in practice the Chinese proverb which says ‘Give a man a fish to eat and he goes hungry the next day, but teach him how to fish and feed him for the rest of his life,’” he explained.
The General Manager noted that the initiative calls for hard work and considerable amount of seriousness. “Getting the equipment with the supporting capital is not enough to make you comfortable.
The success of the business depends entirely on the amount of energy and hard work you are prepared to put in,” he advised the beneficiaries. On behalf of the beneficiaries, Chairperson of the Amputee and War Wounded Association-Alhaji Jusu Jarka said, “We believe with such a wonderful donation made to us by the Freetown Cold Storage [now SLBC] it would motivate our lives and add value to it.”
He explained that “by creating such programs many who go out in the streets to beg would no longer do so and this would take us a very long way.”
“We hope that other companies would find ways to organize such programs in order to complement the effort of the SLBC,” he advised.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Richard Conteh, in his statement said, that “those who suffer most during the war are the amputees and would live with the suffering for the rest of their lives,” adding that “any effort geared towards assisting them to forget about their worries and live a normal lives is most welcome.”
Keynote speaker Minister of Trade and Industry, Alimamy P Koroma said, “all is not lost for them.” He encouraged them to have fate and also to ensure that they make the best out of the initiative.
By Ophaniel Gooding