By Mackie M. Jalloh
On Thursday, 13th January 2022, the Organisation of Sierra Leoneans In Indiana, USA (OSLIN), under the Presidency of Rugiatu Koroma, donated assorted food items and medical supplies to victims of the Wellington Fire disaster, who were hospitalized at the Rokupa Government Hospital in Wellington, as well as those coming for treatment at the facility.
Speaking during the donation, Madam Rugiatu Koroma disclosed that upon hearing of the disaster at Wellington, their organisation, which is comprised of Sierra Leoneans living in Indiana State, USA, met and decided to do something to alleviate the sufferings of their compatriots. She furthered that they then taxed each other and bought some food items and medical supplies to help the victims. She also disclosed that during the visit of the Freetown Mayor to the USA, they were able to engage her on the whereabouts of the survivors of the disaster. Upon arrival in Sierra Leone, they engaged various medical staff in Freetown with whom they had been in touch to direct them to the best place to access the victims of the disaster, and decided to make the donation at the Rokupa hospital, where some of the victims were still hospitalized and where other victims come for treatment.
She expressed the deepest feelings of condolence to the bereaved families and get well soon wishes to the survivors of the disaster, and admonished them not to lose hope, but to know that they are thought of by their compatriots in the diaspora. She stressed that as Sierra Leoneans, their hearts are always with what is happening in the country, and that this disaster was heartrending for them, as they watched video footage of the incident posted on social media.
Rugiatu Koroma furthered that this has not been the first response to disasters in Sierra Leone by the organisation, and maintained that since the formation of the organisation in 1991, they had contributed in their own little way to almost all the disasters that had befallen the nation. Sierra Leone, she stressed, is their country and anything that happens to the country, indirectly affects them, and it is incumbent on them to contribute in whatever way they can to alleviate the suffering of the people. They contributed during the Rebel war, with chartering of buses to repatriate displaced people to their respective districts; they also contributed during the mudslide and other disasters that had hit the country, and this disaster is not an exception. She further appealed to the victims to accept their little token, adding that more supplies are on the way and will be distributed when they arrive in the country.
In his response to the humanitarian assistance provided by OSLIN, Emmanuel Moiwo, a victim, expressed appreciation to the organisation for thinking about them, especially at such a difficult period, and prayed for God’s blessings on them. He also disclosed to this medium that he was badly burnt during the incident and was hospitalized at the Emergency hospital at Goderich with some 13 others. His condition was so bad that even his wife was prevented from seeing him. He thnked God for saving his life, as all the other 13 victims admitted at the hospital from the disaster died, and he was the only survivor, much to the surprise of the medical staff there. Upon returning home after his discharge, he was faced with the problem of taking care of his family. Prior to the disaster, Moiwo said that he was a driver and fended for his family. With three kids in the Junior Secondary School level and his present predicament, life has not been easy, and therefore appreciates the action of the organisation, and called on other humanitarian organisation to help them.
The ceremony was climaxed by the donation of the bags of rice and some cash to the victims and the medical supplies to the hospital for treatment of the victims.