The floods in Freetown

A few people have contacted me in light of the awful news from Sierra Leone, where hundreds died as a result of the mudslide just outside Freetown.

Thousands of others are reported to have been left homeless as a result of the floods.

The mudslide affected a mountain area on the main road out of the city. However, many of the pictures are clearly of more central areas. I’ve tried to make out from photographs the areas worst affected but the obvious chaos makes this difficult. There are reports that corpses were washed down into Lumley Creek, a short distance from where we lived.

The StreetChild charity, which I know and trust, has made an appeal for funds to provide food, shelter and water. When the emergency response finishes, it will work to get children back to school. Action Aid has an Emergency Action Fund, which is reserved solely for disaster relief and so once it has finished work in Freetown it will divert any additional funds to the next disaster area.

Photographs show parts of the slum area beneath the national stadium under water. According to Action Aid, Kroo Bay – a slum housing the poorest of the poor that I visited to try to understand the conditions people lived in – is badly affected.

It always is at this time of year. The charity says that Campbell Street, one of the city’s busiest areas and home to my friend Amjata, is affected. (I’ve been in touch with him and, thankfully, it seems he’s safe.)

Many other areas that I’m not familiar with are also affected. If we were still there today, in our big house on high ground, we’d be completely unaffected. It’s always the poorest communities that get hardest hit. I’ve tried to get an idea of where best to make donations to ensure they reach those worst-affected.

Small charities who are embedded in places like Kroo Bay but don’t have the international profile to publicise their work will undoubtedly also be supporting the communities. Word Made Flesh, which I visited in Kroo Bay, is one such charity. It’s a Christian organisation and I don’t usually donate to causes with a very religious approach. However, having seen the excellent work it does, I was happy to donate.

You can read about my experience of slum conditions – and a bit about how flooding affects the Kroo Bay community – in a previous post.

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