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Alberta government gives $25,000 grant for Sierra Leone’s landslide survivors

By  | 2 February 2018 at 02:16 | 2854 views

The province of Alberta recently gave $25,000 to the Sierra Leone Association of Alberta based in Edmonton, Canada. The money is a grant to help surviving victims of the August 14 landslide that struck Freetown, Sierra Leone, last year. This windfall matches funds already raised by SLAA members and their friends and well-wishers here, for the same purpose.

SLAA president Kemoh Mansaray officially broke the news to members at a general meeting on Sunday 28 January 2018 (see photos).

“The money is a match to the amount we’ve collected as an organization,” he explained.

Several other SLAA executives and a cross-section of the general membership attended the meeting; held at the Abbottsfield Recreation Centre in northeast Edmonton.

Funds collected by the association over the past few months include donations inspired by Pastor Glory Blamo and the Solid Rock International Ministries of Edmonton; monies raised via a GoFundMe initiative; a $500 donation by Gradual Rising of Women (GROW), whose founder is Tracy Barry; and individual contributions by SLAA members themselves. The executive committee furnished members with the specific amounts from each source.

“We are particularly touched by money we recently received from Solid Rock International Ministries,” Mansaray said.

“The money was quite unexpected.” Pastor Blamo and many of his church members are Liberians. His wife Glorious was one of the three women who died in a road accident last September. . One SLAA executive quickly pointed out that the latter funds were from people who were making good their earlier pledges to the fundraising drive.

“These are not additional funds actually; just the fulfillment of solemn promises made well before that fatal accident occurred,” he explained. “We did not ask; but they insisted on making the donations anyway.” The meeting was informed that the cash amount from the Solid Rock International Ministries is exactly $11,190.

Mansaray has since left Edmonton; en route to Sierra Leone where the money will be spent for the direct benefit of people who were most seriously affected by the landslide. SLAA will in effect be disbursing a total of $50,000 dollars; in an integrated project targeted at the intended beneficiaries. On his return to Canada, the SLAA president and his team will report to the SLAA membership and, subsequently, to the government of Alberta.

“We will meet with the victims themselves, especially those who are now encamped.” Mansaray assured members.

He told The Patriotic Vanguard that his team will also strive to identify children who lost their parents in the disaster.

“Our aim is to go beyond emergency relief and help some orphaned survivors with longer-term needs like schooling and healthcare,” he added.

Members were informed that SLAA executives had worked in partnership with the Sinkunia Community Development Organization (SCDO) in applying to the Alberta government. The grant was subsequently issued as a community initiative program; an international development project of the Government of Alberta’s Culture and Tourism.

“The SLAA-SCDO partnership was expedient because we needed the experience and expertise of SCDO executives to help us complete the application process against this cycle’s deadline,” Mansaray reasoned with members.

He noted that it’s been over six months since the August 14 and stressed the need to work quickly in seeking the grant. “This is an emergency and we had to work with the resources we had,” the president said.

“It so happens that the SCDO is not only familiar with such projects; but has been operating successfully on both sides of the Atlantic (ocean).” SCDO is headed by Sierra Leonean Issa Kamara, as executive director. The SCDO website (www.sinkuniacommunity.org) shows the organization’s in Canada and in Sierra Leone.

During his trip, the association president and some other SLAA members currently in Freetown will also disburse funds collected by SLAA in aid of victims of the Ebola crisis a few years ago. Vice-President Sansu Kamara was unavoidably absent at Sunday’s meeting. She is currently in Sierra Leone and is expected to join Mansaray and other SLAA members who may be available in Freetown, to expedite this humanitarian project.

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