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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.