“I lost my son, my house, my job.” A mother's struggle to rebuild following devastating floods

تم النشر: 14 يناير 2016 10:07 CET

By Naoko Ishibashi, IFRC

Four months after heavy rains flooded areas of the Freetown district in Ebola-ravaged Sierra Leone, people are still displaced, staying in camps at stadiums. With limited access to safe drinking water and proper sanitary facilities, the risk of a disease outbreak grows.

When the floods waters started to rise in her town, 28-year-old Ellen Beatrice, a mother to two sons, was working at a small restaurant, preparing meals for customers. It was a normal day until she received a phone call that would have her drop everything and run home. 

“I had two sons, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old,” Ellen says through tears. “On that day when the floods came, they were playing soccer when I heard the bad news from a neighbour that my younger son Mahamed was drowning  in the flood waters. I hurried to my sons. When I arrived, Mahamed had been already rescued by neighbours. I took him in my arms and noticed that he was in a dangerous situation so I took him to the hospital right away. He died shortly afterward.

“I lost almost everything. My son, my house, the restaurant, which was also washed away, and my job. My husband, the father of my two sons, left us when Mahamed was four months old. I have no idea how I can rebuild our life. I want my older son to go to school but I don’t have enough money.”

Forced from their damaged home, Ellen and her older son are now living at a temporary camp set up at a soccer stadium.

“The future is looking quite bleak for us. I still cry every day remembering all the good memories of Mahamed. He loved making songs as much as playing soccer. He always entertained me with his songs. I’m trying to get over this sorrow, but I can’t yet,” says Ellen.

Government figures indicate more than 24,000 people in five districts were affected by the flooding.  In Freetown, an estimated 12,000 people were displaced and initially sought refuge in stadiums, while in other districts, families evacuated to nearby communities, seeking refuge with relatives or in public buildings.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released an additional 196,950 Swiss francs (in total 285,000 Swiss francs)  from its Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) to support the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society in assisting people affected by the flooding. Interventions focused on health and care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.

The major donors and partners of the DREF include the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Medtronic, Zurich and Coca Cola Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, extends its thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.