From the Editor’s Keyboard

Why, Sierra Leone, why?

29 May 2010 at 03:32 | 335 views

By Nanette Thomas, Guest Writer, Texas, USA.

I have been reading with shock and dismay over the arrest of some Sierra Leoneans back home that have been caught with the free drugs government announced recently. My first reaction was Sierra Leoneans WHY? Is it about Money? Is it a Curse? Or is it poverty?

A friend of mine told me it is all of the above. Seems as if there is a curse on us and nothing good could come to Sierra Leone, without some detractors trying to sabotage it. Let me say that the time for change has come. Every Sierra Leonean needs to come together and make Sierra Leone a country where people should be running to and not a place where people should be running away from.

What is money? Money is whatever we make it. It is nothing, and can be everything at the same time (without attempting to sound poetic). Money is the lifeblood of today’s civilization, and, in an oversimplified manner of stating it, a symbol. Thus, one is left to wonder about the fate of our society knowing that its lifeblood is nothing more than an abstract symbol.

We humans, by instinct, do everything we can to satisfy our own needs, so when the holes in the barter system became apparent, we created the ’ultimate tradable commodity’: Something that eliminated the coincidental dual need requirement of bartering, and something universally accepted with a standard value. Money became the common denominator, so to speak; the benchmark upon which the value of everything else was derived.

In his commentary called Money and the Commodity of Culture, George Simmel says, "Money is ’common’ because it is the equivalent for everything to everything; only that which is individual is distinguished; that which is equivalent to many things is equivalent to the least among them and therefore pulls even the highest thing down to the level of the lowest" (239). His use of the word common to describe money couldn’t be more fitting, because that is exactly what it is, because money was created to produce a standard.

The pitfall here is that the standardizing of values to one measurement (the Leone) debases the worth of that which may have previously been seen as ’above’ pricing. Items that at one point were seen to have no equivalent could suddenly be given concrete Leone value, thereby overruling the principle that had governed the barter system, that of sentimental value. This is exactly what is happening with the free health drugs.

The President took a bold decision and informed the world that the drugs would not cost anything, that they would be free. For some Sierra Leoneans they believe that the drugs should have a lot of value, and took upon themselves to sell the drugs. Is this wickedness, witchcraft, "angry belly", tiffy tiffy, want want, poverty or what is it?

I am so baffled that a nurse was involved. On the Exclusive online newspaper, there was a story entitled: “Three Arrested with Free Health Care Drugs and the story went: The Chairman of the Health for All Coalition Mr. Charles Mambu and his team on Sunday 16th May, 2010 arrested three women in Makeni with a huge consignment of drugs clearly marked for the Northern Province with the free health care label on it. The three women were taken the Makeni Police Station where they revealed that the drugs in question were given to them by one Nurse in Makeni but refused to disclose her name.
Upon further investigation, the Nurse in question was identified as one attached to the Makeni government hospital. When the police materialized at the hospital to effect arrest of the implicated Nurse, she was nowhere to be found.”

Let me thank the Chairman of the Health for All Coalition Mr. Charles Mambu and his team for doing a great job. We need more of Mr. Charles Mambu and his team in Sierra Leone.

I have been asking myself, is this individual a real nurse? Did she real take the Nightingale Pledge?

The "Nightingale Pledge"

The Nightingale Pledge was composed by Lystra Gretter, an instructor of nursing at the old Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and was first used by its graduating class in the spring of 1893. It is an adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians.

It says: "I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician, in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care."

These are the people that should be prosecuted by the Anti-Corruption Commission and sent to jail without any fine. The President is doing his level best to help the women and children in Sierra Leone and there are some nurses who are saying “Prezo gladi.” Let me say that any Sierra Leonean who wants to destroy the agenda of President Koroma, Governor Clarkson Prayer will destroy that individual. That nurses’ salaries has being increased and still a nurse could sell the drugs just to deprive the poor women and children. What a SHAME!!!!!!

This brings me to the second part of this article . Is it a Curse? What is a curse? There is a Chinese Proverb that says ’It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

The Chinese proverb above was used by Adlai E.Stevenson, US ambassador to the United Nations to praise Eleanor Roosevelt after her death in 1962. Since then, many have been using this phrase to describe one’s positive actions taken when faced with difficulties or enigmas. "Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle."

To me, this phrase means ’when one finds himself in a difficult situation, he should not blame the circumstances or sulk over his misfortune. Instead, he should take positive actions to overcome or improve his current situation. The first reactions by people to this famous proverb would be to agree with it. If man had been cursing rather than ’lighting candles’, we would very likely still be at the primeval age. Needless to say, change is much more useful than complaining. However, is change always better than remaining in one’s current situation and sulking over it once in a while? Is lighting a candle always better than cursing the darkness?

Sierra Leoneans, especially the ones that are bent on destroying the country, it is better and honorable to light a candle and curse the darkness than continue to steal government property because of your own selfish and wicked gain and allow the poor mothers and children to suffer and die.

Poverty: There are many different reasons why poverty occurs and as such there are many different avenues to pursue in the eradication of poverty. The term poverty may have vastly differing meaning to people from different countries or backgrounds. This occurs because poverty is not uniform everywhere and the methods of eradicating poverty need to be adapted to the different situations that exist. Let me address the issue of poverty in Sierra Leone. Government action, charity from the business sector and private individuals should help in the eradication of poverty. For instance, the government may institute school feeding programs so that underprivileged children will have at least one meal a day. When I was going to school I always look forward to the cornmeal and bulgur lunch with the cup of milk that was provided by the school.

There are times I go home and not wanting to eat what my mother had prepared for us. Members of the business sector may contribute funds towards building a shelter for the homeless and private individuals may donate items such as clothing to the poor. Provision of shelter, meals and clothing to the poor and homeless is the first step towards increasing their standard of living as their basic needs are being met.

Education is a way of helping the poverty stricken to better them and increase their standard of living. The government and non-profit organizations working alone or together can provide free training to the poor. There are so many international organizations that want to help. Write proposals and send them out to the world. You never know. If you do not make an effort, God will not come down to earth to help you. The provision of training will allow these less fortunate individuals to learn a skill, which they can use to make themselves employable or earn a higher wage.

This will enable them to enjoy a better standard of living as they can better provide for themselves and their families.
Family planning is another useful tool in the eradication of poverty. Many families still experience poverty even though both parents are employed. This occurs many of the times because there are too many children to support with the income being earned. Through education about family planning people, which has been going on for a long time in Sierra Leone as I was a member of the Planned Parenthood Association can learn to have manageable sized families where they can enjoy a reasonable standard of living even if their income is not very high, if only they are willing and prepared to listen and accept change. I used to visit different offices and distributed condoms to the men, and they were ashamed to take them, even though deep down their hearts they know that it is a very useful tool for them.

Lastly, drug treatment centers will aid in the task of eradicating poverty. Many people become destitute because of their addiction to drugs. Centers are needed where these people can go to for help to overcome their addiction. Overcoming drug addiction will be the first step to overcoming poverty for these people. Once a drug addict has been rehabilitated he can move on with his life and once more become a useful member of society and provide for himself.

Poverty may be caused by many factors for instance lack of jobs, lack of skills, one may be born into poverty or one may be forced into poverty by lifestyle choices. Irrespective of the cause of poverty the eradication of poverty should be a Sierra Leone goal as it brings benefit to everyone. This is why help should be forthcoming from all sectors of the population including the government, the business sector and private individuals to rid society of the problem of poverty.

Sierra Leoneans There is no problem we cannot solve, no destiny we cannot hope for. President Koroma cannot do it alone it is left with us Sierra Leoneans to stand up for change and do the right thing so that we could leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren. YES WE CAN!!!!!