Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: 600 youth impacted by fires receive aid

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Don Bosco Fambul is supporting the needs of more than 600 youth impacted by Susan Bay suburb fires

(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Fambul, located in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown and one of the country’s leading child-welfare organizations, is responding to the needs of more than 600 youth in its programs who were impacted by recent fires that broke out in the suburb of Susan Bay. The fires tore through 10 hectares of land covered with shacks and huts made of wood and sheet metal.

More than 500 houses were reduced to ashes and more than 5,000 people lost everything. Salesian missionaries have already announced that their doors are open to welcome, help, and protect children, adolescents and mothers with small children. They are already providing aid and supplies to those in need.

“We have lost everything,” said Yaikain, one of the girls hosted at Don Bosco Fambul. “We got out as fast as possible as soon as we heard the shouts of fire. We have been on the street, without food, since that day and without knowing where to go because I am taking care of my grandmother who is very old.”

In just four hours, and for reasons still unknown, the fire spread through the wood and cardboard houses. There are currently no reported deaths, but there are about 80 injured and more than 5,000 displaced.

“Children, adolescents and mothers with babies know they have a safe place to go to at Don Bosco Fambul,” said Father Jorge Crisafulli, director of the organization. Don Bosco Fambul is collaborating in its response with the government, the mayor’s office and other nongovernmental organizations active in Freetown.

Salesian missionaries responded similarly with other tragedies that have struck in the region. They did so during the Ebola epidemic in 2015 when they welcomed orphaned minors. In December 2016, they welcomed the community when a fire in the Angola Town suburb left hundreds of people homeless, and again in August 2017, when the Don Bosco Fambul courtyards became the new home for dozens of people for several months when a landslide on Sugar Loaf hill caused more than 1,000 deaths, hundreds of injuries and displaced persons.

Fr. Crisafulli added, “Many children we had rescued from the streets and reinstated with their families lived in Susan Bay and were impacted. There were many minors from the anti-violence program, saved from prostitution, crammed into these humble shacks. More than 600 boys and girls we serve in our programs have lost everything in the Susan Bay fire. We will help those who have lost everything by giving them shelter, clothes, hygiene products, food and medicine, so we will in turn need urgent help for hundreds of minors.”