Without trying to draw attention away from Hurricane Harvey's destruction in South Texas, I want to point out a recovery effort that needs help.
Africa is dealing with one of the worst disasters in recent memory and it probably does not shock anyone that it is being under-reported. The events in Sierra Leone got two days worth of coverage before the terrorist attacks in Barcelona took away much of the attention.
At 6:00 a.m. on Monday August 14th, a steep hillside collapsed in Regent, an area on the outskirts of Freetown. Three days of torrential downpours caused the local drainage systems to become overwhelmed. The overflow washed out the mountain town’s steep causing a massive mudslide that took hillside homes with it.
By Wednesday, authorities had confirmed 400 deaths with upwards of 600 still missing. With the mortuary at capacity, President Ernest Bai Koroma’s instructed relatives to swiftly come identify the dead and that all unidentified corpses would be given a “dignified burial”. There was looming threat of disease if the corpses laid out. On Friday, government and aide organizations began burying hundreds of victims in mass graves.
Two Weeks Later
In a statement on August 27th, local leaders announced the death toll has surpassed the 1,000 mark with more expected. Now local charities are dealing with how to help the hundreds of children who have been orphaned.
Canada’s Humanitarian Assistance Fund and the USAID have both donated some but the financial aide to Sierra Leone has been underwhelming. Neighboring countries like Ghana and Nigeria have helped by tending to daily needs like food and blankets, but there is still not enough being provided to Sierra Leone. There seems to be very few public awareness campaigns, no celebrity voices, and little hope cable news will return to the situation.
Social media might be the only way to curb Africa’s empathy gap. There was no #PrayForSierraLeone, no turning off the Eiffel Tower lights in honor of the victims, no Facebook filter or specific artwork floating around online to show we care; why would world governments or politicians care?
Mallence Bart-Williams, a Sierra Leonean-German writer and filmmaker started a GoFundMe page that needs help
Save The Children Sierra Leone Mudslide Relief Fund
Unicef Relief Efforts For Mudslide