Development needs to go beyond where better roads stop-John Caulker

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The Executive Director of Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone says organizations working with communities especially in the post ebola era in Sierra Leone should not only focus their activities on communities that have good road networks but should take into consideration difficult terrains.

John addressing his audience

John addressing his audience


He was addressing traditional leaders,women,youth and other community members at the Kailahun District Youth Centre during the election of IDPDC executives.

He said as civil society organizations they should work very hard to ensure remote communities are reached and included in the post ebola recovery programmes, adding that activities of organizations should also compliment the President recovery priorities for the communities to benefit

‘Development needs to go beyond where better roads end and that is why we are working with communities and building  vital structures in terms of mediators,community members,peace mothers etc so that all of us should work to achieve more’John Caulker emphasized.

members in attendance

members in attendance

The chair of IDPDC,Hon.Sahr Fatorma urged members to work in the interest of communities and not self

The newly formed committee pledged to work very hard for the development of the district


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Koinadugu District Calls for Post-Ebola Interventions

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The people of Koinadugu district have unanimously agreed to rebuild their various chiefdoms in the Post-Ebola era.  Koinadugu learned from the bold steps taken by the people of Kailahun District to eradicate Ebola and ensure that the disease does not re-occur any longer.  They are determined to heal and recover from the damages left by the dreadful disease in communities.

Group work in progress

Group work in progress

A community preparedness meeting facilitated by Fambul Tok in Yiffin section, Nieni chiefdom, was held on August 10, 2015.  Community members highlighted the debilitating effects of Ebola in the chiefdom, in particular, and the entire district as a whole.

The meeting provided space for frank discussions to beat back the Ebola virus and prepare, in the event of future disasters, through collected commitments to withstand and respond immediately.  It also made room for suggestions and proper planning for Post-Ebola healing and recovery.

A banner to show where a mediator stays

A banner to show where a mediator stays

In his remarks at the meeting, Executive Director of Fambul Tok, John Caulker says the civil war in the Sierra Leone and Ebola are both two major wars for the fact that they caused a lot of atrocities on lives and property.  He stressed that the only difference between the two wars is that Ebola is in one way or the other spread by people very close to you (loved ones) while the civil war was fought by enemies.

He went on to state that after the war those that should have benefited in post war recovery were either not targeted or were not part of the planning and implementation stages.  He said due to these mistakes hundreds of community projects were not completed and therefore did not yield any dividend.

The Director says Fambul Tok’s primary focus in the on-going Post-Ebola phase is for the country to correct those mistakes made after the war when millions of dollars from donors and partners were donated but no tangible outputs were realized.

one of women leaders welcomes participants

one of women leaders welcomes participants

He says in order to avert such things, Fambul Tok has already engaged communities in Kissi Teng chiefdom, Kailahun district, where the ebola virus first hit.  Through community meetings and trainings in every village, in all five sections, the communities developed narrative on what/how they want to heal and recover from damages caused by Ebola.

Councillor Koroma explains  ebola related cases

Councillor Koroma explains ebola related cases

Mr. Caulker says after series of meetings in all sections, the people of Kissi Teng were able to put together the People’s Plan for Ebola prevention, healing and recovery, a community driven approach for Post-Ebola recovery.  He says the Kissi Teng document is only a pilot phase as other chiefdoms in Kailahun district would have the opportunity to do the same provided organizations are willing to take up the task.

Mr. Caulker discloses that similar engagements are now on-going in all five sections in Nieni chiefdom so that communities could easily identify their problems before, during and after Ebola and put in place strategies for the community healing process and recovery.  He asked participants three major questions:  1.  How does as an individual ensure that Ebola does not come again to your community?  2.  How do communities collectively ensure that Ebola does not re-emerge?  3.  Are there Ebola related cases and what do they intend doing to heal and recover in the Post-Ebola phase?  The 108 participants were divided into five groups to answer the questions.

The Director emphasizes on the importance of the second meetings for the sections as community.  Mediators (two from each village, male and female) would be trained in communication skills, mediation, healing and reconciliation and accountability.  He said after those engagements Fambul Tok, in collaboration with other organizations in Koinadugu district, will organize a district community resilience conference in Kabala and community members will also take part.  The conference, he says will look at the Nieni chiefdom People’s Plan for Ebola prevention, healing and recovery.

In his contribution, Councilor Augustine Koroma expressed happiness for Fambul Tok for embarking on Post-Ebola drive.  He confessed that they, as politicians, are accused of receiving money for Ebola work.  He says there are lots of misconceptions on Ebola in that part of the country and therefore called on Fambul Tok to intervene.

Pa Kelly of Funbakoro confirmed that there are lots of people who are not on speaking terms because of Ebola related cases.  He says due to this the chiefdom keeps regressing.

The people of Nieni also complained of Ebola food supplies and called for intervention.  The distribution, according to them targets only survivors or relatives of Ebola victims.

According to one of the elders, everyone in the district suffered in one way or the other so therefore everyone is a survivor.

Another meeting was also held in Siradu section in the same chiefdom.  The training of mediators in the two sections will commence in the next two weeks.  Sectional executive members are expected to be elected during training sessions who will be charged with the responsibility of coordinating activities in their various sections.  Rotational meetings at village level are also expected.

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Post-Ebola Reconciliation is Vital for Sustainable Development

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Paramount Chief of Nieni chiefdom has emphasized that Post-Ebola activities in communities will be meaningless if communities do not reconcile and work together. Nieni chiefdom was the first area hit by Ebola in Koinadugu.

The traditional leader, Alimamy Umaru Jalloh 111 made this statement as he addressed participants from various villages that converged at Kumala for a one day community preparedness meeting facilitated by Fambul Tok on June 13, 2015.

Paramount Chief of Nieni

Paramount Chief of Nieni

According to Chief Jalloh, millions of dollars were pumped into the country for post war activities but not much was realized.  It is very important for communities to be a part of the Post-Ebola planning and implementation so that the mistakes that occurred after the war are not repeated in the Post-Ebola era.

Post-Ebola activities, especially reconciliation, is vital for sustainable community peace and development, Chief emphasized

He underscored the efforts of Fambul Tok for the past years in its healing and reconciliatory approach in communities.  He said reconciliation is not an event but a process and cautioned people to handle Post-Ebola reconciliation with the seriousness it deserves.

He further extolled Fambul Tok for bringing peace to his chiefdom, tracing reconciliation activities since 2008.  He went on to state that if organizations had focused on peace building in the country after the war, some of the numerous challenges in communities would have reduced and therefore urged them this time round to direct their resources on Post-Ebola activities.

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Sahr and Nyuma Promote Peace in Sierra Leone

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Sahr and Nyuma were barely teenagers when the defunct Revolutionary United Front(RUF) rebels invaded their villages.  Once the closest of friends, Sahr, who lives in Kpekeledu village and Nyuma, also from Kpekedu in Kissi Teng chiefdom, Kailahun district had been brutally torn apart by decade long civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

Nyuma(left) and Sahr attend post ebola community preparedness meeting in Kangama town

Nyuma(left) and Sahr attend post ebola community preparedness meeting in Kangama town

Sahr and his father fled into the bush only to be captured by the rebels.  The rebels ordered Sahr to kill his father.  His repeated refusal angered the fierce looking men.  His childhood friend, Nyuma, who was also captured, was given orders to kill the old man. Having no other choice, Nyuma slit the throat of best friend’s father.

As that was not enough, the rebels then ordered Nyuma to beat up Sahr.  Nyuma beat Sahr so severely that even today Sarhr’s body remains disfigured.  He walks with great difficulty, supported by a walking stick.

The former friends lived in fear and did not speak about their events until 2008, during a Fambul Tok bonfire. Sahr forcefully scrambled through a jam-packed audience, came forward and testified what Nyuma did to him during the conflict.

Nyuma, without countering the allegations, acknowledged what he had done but admitted that he did it under duress and not of his own volition.  Nyuma apologized and asked for forgiveness.  Sahr shed tears but was strong enough to accept Nyuma’s apology, adding that he did from the bottom of his heart.

Since their reunion eight years ago, both Sahr and Nyuma continue to live in peace to the amazement of community members.  As a commitment to the peace, Nyuma is always very helpful to Sahr, helping Sahr do physical hard work that he can no longer do on his own.  Nyuma has even helped Sahr build a house in Kpekeledu.  Kpekedu and Kpekeledu community members have embraced Sahr and Nyuma for their stance to ensure that peace and unity prevails among them.

“We work together as a team.  We are doing this to show the world that it is possible to forgive someone that had wronged you,” Sahr emphasized.  He continued, “We have even planned to do in-valley swamp cultivation this year because we wanted to do groundnut but we don’t have the opportunity.”

According to Nyuma, “Since Sahr accepted my apology we continue to live in peace and even our community members admire the way we interact and work together.”

“I visit Sahr whenever he has work to do.  We are not even friends now but brothers as we work and dine together,” he revealed

Sahr is so grateful to Fambul Tok for assisting him with roofing sheets to build his house.

As part of their contribution to post ebola recovery, Sahr and Nyuma participated in a one day community preparedness meeting organized by Fambul Tok in Bumassadu section, Kissi Teng chiefdom.

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Kissi Teng Prepares to be Involved in Post-Ebola Activities

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After the cessation of hostilities and the declaration of the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war, many organizations implemented community projects in various parts of the country.  Despite millions of dollars from international donors and partners to the country for post-war activities almost all projects collapsed because they had no sustainability plan.

John addressing his audience in KoinduOne of the factors that led to the collapse of many projects was the non-inclusion of community members who are beneficiaries.  A number of affected communities were not actively involved at planning stages so that they could be part and parcel, and even plan better, for the sustenance of those projects.

Based on these negative factors, and in order to avert such mistakes in post-Ebola activities, Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone has started organizing community meetings in readiness to resolve potential conflicts that have already happened or are about to happen in communities.  These meetings create space for community members to explain how they were affected by the Ebola virus and how they can work as individuals, or collectively, to ensure that the disease does not re-emerge.

Group presentation

Group presentation

Kissi Teng chiefdom, Kailahun registered the index case on May 25, 2014.  Within three months over 140 people were affected.  With more than 160 days of no new infection in the entire district, the people of Kissi Teng are now grappling with post-Ebola conflicts and challenges.  Given the destruction caused by the virus in the district, the community is determined to ensure that the virus does not re-enter their community again.

On April 21, 2015, Representatives from all 14 villages in the Toli section, Kissi Teng convened in Koindu town to highlight issues and challenges relating to post-Ebola.  They unanimously agreed that there are a lot of issues and there is need for the section to come together to resolve them.  As a result, the Representatives went back to their villages to hold meetings with their people to highlight the most important issues and work together to determine how the community can resolve them.

On April 27, 2015, a follow-up meeting was held in Koindu town allowing the Representatives to come back together as a group, after meeting with their villages.  They catalogued several issues affecting the villages and suggested solutions to the numerous problems.  During discussions, Toli section pointed out some key solutions that should be part of post-Ebola activities such as loan/community grants, agriculture and sectional memorial service for the dead, especially Ebola related deaths.

John Caulker, Executive Director of Fambul Tok International Sierra Leone, pointed out lapses in project implementation after the war. He said most of those projects had no sustainability plan, and attributed the lapses to the lack of involvement of community beneficiaries.  He said Fambul Tok deems it fit to intervene and work to avert mistakes as were evident in post war projects.  Communities know their problems and can identify or suggest solutions and post-Ebola efforts should avoid bringing in projects that have no future for beneficiaries.  Mr. Caulker emphasized that Fambul Tok does not give out money to communities but creates space for healing and reconciliation.

In addition to supporting its healing process, Mr. Caulker went on to say that Fambul Tok will link communities with potential development partners and ensure that whatever comes in goes straight to beneficiaries.

Donald Koroma, the Kailahun District Council representative, stated the Council’s devolved functions, adding that most people do not know how Council works. It was clear that most remote communities do not know what functions Kailahun District Council plays but with enough explanation from its representative the people were exuberant to channel their concerns through the Council.

Another meeting was also held in Konio section in Kissi Teng chiefdom were similar things were discussed.

Toli section now has an executive to coordinate the affairs of the section.

Posted in Ebola response, From the Ground: Program Updates from Sierra Leone, Kailahun District | Tagged | Leave a comment