Belmore is a happy guy who just love to play football, despite the fact that he has polio in his leg. However, in September 2015, Belmore’s family was hit by Ebola and in around a month, all the members were wiped out by the dreaded disease. His father, mother, brothers, sister, aunts and uncles died while Belmore was taking care of them. All 16 family members who lived with Belmore in their house were dead. Besides this tragedy, Belmore had to face another challenge. He was expelled from his community. People stoned him whenever he left his house. They feared being infected if he comes close to them. Fortunately, there has been a little joy back in Belmore’s life. Today, he lives with other disabled friends in our house. The pain and a loss which hit Belmore in September 2015 can never be completely forgotten, but we are happy that we can help to light a little spark of hope in his life.
There is around 500.000 disabled people in Sierra Leone. Some are amputees who remain a silent reminder of the brutal civil war which was full of murder, rape or amputations by machete and other terrors tactics against civilians. However, many more in Sierra Leone are disabled as a result of birth defect, contagious disease, such as polio, or through accidents, all a result of limited access to proper healthcare.
While unemployment is a problem for many people in Sierra Leone, it is particularly a problem among the disabled. They do not have access to jobs, and many of the disabled in Sierra Leone are forced to beg to survive, as neither the government nor their families offer assistance. They are highly stigmatized and people in their own communities are often afraid of them.
We have rented a house where we give 20 young men aged 16-30 the chance to change their lives. We provide assistance, including housing, food and education, regardless of their type of disability. We have also rented a small tailoring place where they can sew and sell their products. The most important factor in determining suitability for the programme is the participant’s own ambition, mental strength and perseverance. Therefore, we chooses people with strong character that will show their surrounding communities that they can break the pattern and become some of the first disabled people in their community who were able to get a job and become an active, valuable members of the community. In addition, our employee Vidal serves as a caretaker. He lives with the guys in the house and helps them with practical affairs but also gives them psycho-social support.