Four minutes is all it took to destroy the hillside community of Matome in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
When a devastating landslide struck Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone on August 14th, four minutes is all it took to destroy the hillside community of Matome. The area is a bustling suburb of Freetown with hundreds of makeshift homes sprawling precariously up and down the mountains.
Kumba is 7 years old. Her family was one of the only families to survive the disaster. 80% of those who lived in the path of the landslide didn’t survive.
Kumba’s father Sahr and mother Finda lost the home they built and all the equipment for their small businesses (Sahr is a builder and Finda is a hairdresser). They are lucky to be alive but the challenge facing them is daunting. Where will they live? How will they earn a living? How will they pay school fees to keep their children in school?
Kumba’s mother Finda is determined to keep the children in school no matter what. She knows her daughters are particularly vulnerable. “My wish is for my kids that they will get the education I never had.” she says. “My older brother was sent to school, that was all we could afford. Now I see myself in the dark because when you are not educated you are in the dark. I am praying and I wish that my kids are educated. My greatest fear since the landslide is how my kids will continue in school.”
After the landslide survivors received counselling and support to help them cope and manage amid the chaos and uncertainty. Our initial support also provided families with essential hygiene and household equipment such as soap and sanitary items, a kettle, plates and cups.
For Kumba and her siblings the critical support was school kits. Their school was destroyed and finding a permanent school will be a challenge. The kits meant the children had some basic materials so they could attend a local temporary school in the area.
Over the coming months Trócaire will develop support to help families rebuild their businesses and their livelihoods. These will include small loans, training, equipment etc. for survivors.
By supporting Trócaire this Lent you can help people like 7 year old Kumba and her family to rebuild their lives after disaster and tragedy.
Kumba with her sister Fatu looking at the site of the devastating landslide.