Supporting the Kroo Bay Community - by Boyd Heuvelman
Friday 7th March - On International Women’s Day most of Sierra Leone celebrates with a national day of holiday. But for Street Child and We Yone teams it was to be a busy day distributing support materials to the Kroo Bay community.
On Thursday our team had been to Kroo Bay and met with families impacted by the fire to assess what emergency assistance they needed. It was decided that we would provide blankets, towels and solar lights plus school uniforms - without school uniform children are not allowed in school.
I arrived at Kroo Bay in the early afternoon and met with the head teacher of our school. At the entrance to the community centre our team was calling for the 150 children that we pre-identified for help. But news had spread, and the square was full of other people asking for help. I pushed my way through the masses to try and get to the entrance but one thing became clear to me, we did not have enough materials. People where pushing and screaming, they needed help, but we didn’t have enough for everyone.
Inside the community centre we distributed packages of blankets, towels and solar lights. It had become clear to us that solar lights were important for this community. Kroo Bay is a slum area and it is pitch black at night and the fire had been started accidentally by a candle.
We were provided with extra items from SLSAV (Sierra Leone Social Aid Volunteers). Their director went to school with Street Child of Sierra Leone’s director and so decided to pass on to us donations he had received to support the community. His donations included trousers, dresses, jackets, some toys and books.
With everyone inside the small building it started to get quite hectic. Fortunately a group of police were passing by and decided to stay with us and help keep order and peace. Hours of hard work and sweat were rewarded with an empty building that only shortly before was bustling with people in need. We thanked all the community members who had helped us and the Street Child and We Yone teams enjoyed a cold drink together as a small mark of our team work.
Thanks to our long term presence in the Kroo Bay area we are familiar with the community and can respond quickly and effectively. Sadly, this also means we have a good overview of the situation and see that there is a lot more that needs to be done and still many more people in need. Kroo Bay will not recover quickly and without more support.