School’s out for summer and it’s safe to say there is great excitement all around the country! We know there aren’t too many children who will be missing school right now but just in case, we’ll be visiting the upcoming City Spectacular events our very own classroom… But it’s one with a difference. A replica from Sierra Leone, telling the story of Kumba and her family who featured in this year’s lent appeal.
At the age of just 7, Kumba has had a difficult start to life. She has already survived an Ebola outbreak that killed 4,000 people and a devastating mudslide that killed 1,000 people.
When the landslide struck Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone in August 2017, four minutes was all it took to destroy Kumba’s hillside community of Matome.
That morning, Kumba awoke as her house began to shake and a deafening roar filled the bedroom. Her mother grabbed her and they ran as the mudslide demolished everything around them. Kumba’s younger sister fell behind and became trapped under rubble but thankfully she was freed in time.
Kumba’s family was one of the only families to survive the disaster – 80% of those who lived in the path of the landslide were killed. But the challenge they then faced was daunting.
They lost their house, their school and Kumba’s parents lost the equipment they needed to work – Kumba’s father, Sahr, is a builder and mother, Finda, is a hairdresser. Thanks to the support from the Irish public, Trócaire was able to step in and help families, like Kumba’s, rebuild their lives.
Kumba from Freetown, Sierra Leone and her family. Her family home and many others were destroyed when a devastating landslide hit on August 14, 2017. Photo: Mark Stedman.
Trócaire has been working in Sierra Leone for over a decade and so we were able to start our humanitarian response immediately after the landslide. We provided basic but vital aid to the community including soap and sanitary items, torches, a kettle, plates and cups.
Survivors also received counselling and support to help them deal with the trauma of what had happened and we set up information kiosks to help the community link up affected families.
The importance of education
Kumba and her classmates lost their school in the landslide, as well as all their materials. But the community was determined to keep the children in school.
“My wish is for my kids to get the education I never had,” said Finda, Kumba’s mother. “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. My greatest fear since the landslide is how my kids will continue in school,” she said.
A temporary school was set-up in the area and we were able to provide children with school kits, including a school bag full of text books, copy books, pens, pencils and a school uniform, so that they could continue their education.
Thanks to the support of the Irish public, there is now hope for Kumba and her classmates, as well as many other families who have suffered from disaster and tragedy. But there are still many challenges ahead and Trócaire, with your support, will be there for the long-term to ensure the future is bright for Kumba and her community.
This summer, you will have the chance to sit at Kumba’s table and look out the window to see what the mudslide looked like. We will bringing Kumba’s replica classroom to the Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular
events. To learn more about our work in Sierra Leone and beyond, be sure to pop by our stand at:
- City Spectacular Dublin – Merrion Square, 6-8 July
- City Spectacular Cork – Fitzgerald Park, 14-15 July