, 20 August, 2020 / 9:28 PM
The charity arm of the Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone working among the marginalized and vulnerable groups has been awarded for its humanitarian activities that have changed thousands of lives in the West African country before and after the outbreak of COVID-19.
Caritas Freetown was on Wednesday, August 19, during the commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day, named among 50 groups and individuals that have committed their lives to helping others in the country.
The country’s Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Mohamed Haji Kella, congratulated the awardees who were drawn from different professions. These included health workers, journalists and social workers whose impact, Mr. Haji said, had been felt across the country especially during the time of COVID-19.
“These are some of the people that do not wait for a letter from the community requesting for help. They go into the communities, conduct their own assessment to find the needs of the people and act accordingly, leaving the people with better hope and restored lives,” the government official said.
He added, “Today we recognize your work as we wish to thank you and your partners who have been very helpful in making your work possible. Thank you and congratulations”
Addressing the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, Haji said, “I just want to say to you Fr. Peter Konteh and your partners, you have done well. Not just in times of COVID-19 but even before that. Thank you very much.”
Receiving the award on behalf of Caritas Freetown, Fr. Konteh expressed his appreciation for the members of the charity arm of the Church in Freetown for reaching out to vulnerable groups during COVID-19 lockdown, the government for providing an enabling environment for the organization’s activities and its donors, including the German embassy in Sierra Leone.
“This award is dedicated to our kind and supportive donors, staff and volunteers and our dearest Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles,” Fr Konteh who founded St. Mary’s Interim Child Care Centre within the Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone to provide a safe haven for molested girls seeking justice in the country said.
The event was organized by Action for Youth and Children's Network Sierra Leone in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Patriotic Empowerment Network, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network, Health Alert Sierra Leone, among other groups in the West African country.
Humanitarian Day in Sierra Leone is a day set aside to celebrate humanitarians, those who have been in the forefront of meeting the needs of the vulnerable people, uncompelled.
Themed #RealLifeHeroes for the United Nations celebrations, the 2020 event is a global campaign that celebrates humanitarians, “a thank you to the people who have committed their lives to helping others,” according to the UN's message on Humanitarian Day.
“The heroes of our world, here and now, are just as worthy of admiration and celebration because they’re real — they’re real: choosing to help in the most extreme circumstances — and their stories show that real life heroes exhibit an uncanny ability to persevere despite the odds, and to do so with humility and dedication,” according to the information provided on the UN website.
In an interview with ACI Africa on Thursday, August 20, Fr. Konteh said Caritas Freetown was running a COVID-19 emergency response project that had, among other accomplishments, supported 250 elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions in 10 slums on the fringes of the country’s capital.
Working with Manos Unidas, a Catholic humanitarian organization based in Spain, the charity arm of the Church in Freetown has been providing these families with safety equipment and food.
The organizations had also provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to four major government hospitals in the country and not-for-profit medical facilities in the country, which are grappling with a shortage of the equipment.
Caritas has also recruited more than 45 youth in the country who have been engaged in the making of masks and earning a living while at it. Fr. Konteh shared with ACI Africa that the group of youth have made more than 40,000 face masks, which have been distributed to various vulnerable groups and health facilities.
The award-winning Sierra Leonean Cleric who has been feted widely, including being named among the 100 most influential personalities in Sierra Leone for his devotion to social work that spans more than 30 years told ACI Africa that the August 19 recognition was an inspiration to reach out to the poorest of the poor.
“It is such a humbling experience and I feel privileged to be in the capacity to serve those who need us in society,” the Sierra Leonean Cleric told ACI Africa.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa