By Alimatu Fofanah
Freetown, Hon. Vice President, Ambassador Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh last week received the British Red Cross Internal Director, David Peppiatt at his Tower Hill offices in Freetown.
Mr. Peppiatt is in the country on a study tour to access achievement made by the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society in terms of relief and disaster management and to better understand the extent of the post Ebola recovery programmes.
Welcoming the delegation, which was led by the President of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, Edward T. Ngandi, the Vice President said he was impressed with the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society as they have and are still doing an impressive work in the areas of relief and disaster management.
He described the role played by the Sierra Leone Red Cross and the British Red Cross as very important as they came to the aid of people not only in Sierra Leone but the world at large in terms of relief, war, earthquakes, major floods, landslides, among others.
The Sierra Leone Red Cross, he went on, is playing a legitimate role in the country as it works in partnership with the government in all disasters and relief managements. Their presence, he added, was well appreciated by the government as they are swift in responding to crises in the country.
Hon. Vice President Foh expressed government’s appreciation of the Red Cross Society for their efforts in the recent flood crisis in the country, adding that government is encouraging them to continue to do the good work and look forward to a continuous partnership in the recent flood management.
Vice President Foh further thanked, on behalf of the President, government and people of Sierra Leone, both the British and Sierra Leone Red Cross Societies for their tremendous endeavors in the fight to exterminate the Ebola virus in the country, noting that disasters were very difficult to plan as they occur at any giving time.
He explained the about the weak health sector in the country before the outbreak and the loss of lives of the country’s vibrant doctors and nurses during the Ebola epidemic. He said that when the virus broke out, the labs were not there and there were challenges in tackling the virus from spreading. This, he noted, was really devastating as the government, the people of this country and all other sectors were gravely affected as the outbreak took the country’s progress a little backward.
He maintained that from those difficult lessons learnt, the government will now strengthen if health sector with the resources available to give out people a better health service and better prepared for any future outbreak.
He encouraged both societies to continue to partner with the government in strengthen the country’s health sector.
President of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, Eward T. Ngandi, while introducing members of his delegation, underlined the incredible support his organization has been continuously receiving from the government of Sierra Leone. He said his organization is a supporting partner to government especially in the area of humanitarian action and that they have been joining forces effectively with government institutions and other humanitarian organizations to accomplish insightful achievement in fighting epidemics and assuaging the quandary of vulnerable as was the case in the fight to end the Ebola scourge in the country.
He went on to explain that his organization has been able to intervene effectively during crisis owing to the support they received from their partners not excluding the British Red Cross.
He gave a brief background link between the Sierra Leone Red Cross and the British Red Cross which he traced as far back as 1918 when a branch of the British Red Cross was established in Sierra Leone.
The Red Cross president, Edward Ngandi, said the branch continued until the country’s Red Cross society was established by an Act of Parliament in 1962. This relationship, he maintained, was even more vibrant now than ever before.
The Internal Director of the British Red Cross, Mr. David Peppiatt, said they are very proud of the Sierra Leone Red Cross as it is an example of a very strong partner of the government of Sierra Leone, adding that the organization is a national one that has been in the country, before, during and after crises.
He said the organization has an incredible network of volunteers and branches who played a very critical role a very significant role in crisis especially during the Ebola outbreak wherein they were part of the safe and dignify burial section.
The Red Cross Manager for Sierra Leone and Liberia, Helen Mclnnes, said she was incredibly impressed with the Sierra Leone Red Cross for having built on activating and incredible volunteers that are able to provide incredible support to people living in communities especially during challenging times.
Her role in the country, she said, was to work very closely with their Sierra Leone counterpart to let the people understand how relevant to partner with national society to deliver support on the same work and be supportive to the country.
The Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society also made meaningful statement.