News / Africa

    Sierra Leone NGOs, Public Seek Help for Homeless

    Homeless people in Sierra Leone are crying out for help.

    Last week a landslide caused a bridge to collapse in Freetown, the capital.  The colonial-era bridge, known as the King Jimmy bridge, killed six homeless people who were living under it.  Questions are now being asked about why homeless people do not get more assistance from the government.  

    Leslie Pratt is remembering his friends who died in the landslide.  He lives in the area where the bridge gave way.  Pratt says it's an area where many homeless people live.

    "I feel so bad because all of them are my best friends. We used to do things, share things in common," said Pratt.

    The bridge was located along a waterfront in Freetown and was used by pedestrians and vehicles on a daily basis.  Also in the area was a market where people used to sell food, clothing and other items.

    Mohamed Sesay is a tailor who works and lives in the area.

    "People would usually come to my shop while browsing at the market, but now the market has been shut down because of the landslide.  I am worried about what that will do to my business and worry where all the other homeless people living in the area will now go, people like Pratt," said Sesay.
     
    Pratt says he is trying to figure that out, too, along with the rest of his future.  Pratt is 25 and lost his parents during the country's civil war which lasted from 1991-2002.  He, like so many other young people, came to Freetown to find work but ended up homeless.

    He says he knows there could be a better life out there but he does not know how to get it.  He hopes the government might be able to develop an education program for people in his situation.

    And he's not the only one wanting to see change.

    Francis Munu is inspector general of the Sierra Leone police.  His concern is that petty crime is on the rise, and he says much of it is committed by the homeless.

    Munu says this is because so many people are coming into Freetown now from rural areas. He's urging the government to look at options for these migrants.

    "And that they do something to encourage employment in the rural areas to reduce the rural urban migration, and encourage people to be more productive," said Munu.

    Alimamy P. Koroma is minister of works, infrastructure and housing.  He says the ministry is aware of the problem and is currently working on a low-income housing program.

    When asked if there will be any direct assistance for homeless people, such as establishing shelters, Koroma says it is challenging.

    "Unfortunately, we are not there yet, and I only wish we could make such provision, but given other competing priorities in infrastructure, water, health, I think government is overstressed in terms of its means," said Koroma.

    The most vulnerable of the homeless population in Freetown are the children.

    According to the non-governmental organization Don Bosco Fambul, 2,500 children are homeless in the city.

    The organization works directly with street kids, providing food, drinks and medical care.

    Lothar Wagner is the director of the organization.  He says low-income housing may be a step in the right direction, but more needs to happen.

    "Building alone will not help the people. [We must] be with them, to support them in their talents - many of them have many talents - to give them skill training and education, but for that you have to improve the whole country," said Wagner.

    Back at the King Jimmy bridge, Red Cross officials say the search for any remaining bodies from the accident has been called off.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: yasmine from: New Jersey
    August 16, 2013 2:20 PM
    Hi my name is yasmine and im 16 years old and i really want to make a difference by going out and buying supplies for the homeless i just need some one to help me do that so if anyone is interested in helping me that will be great just email me at ytlouhan@gmail.com

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora