But Mohamed Haji Kella, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, said after all efforts, they could only secure a slot for 900 pilgrims.
“We did say last year that we were going to take 1,500 pilgrims to Mecca this year, but we only succeeded at getting 900 slots which we appreciate,” he noted. He said a number of factors contributed to the allocation of only 900 visa quotas to the country.
A substantial number of Sierra Leoneans rely on donor support to fulfill the lifelong dream of every Muslim – Hajj. Most of the scholarships come from the Arab and Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia itself. But Mr. Kella assured Muslims that everything was in place to ensure the smooth travel of the 900 would-be pilgrims.
He disclosed that, a total of 350 scholarships were secured from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Qatar, as well as the Office of the President. This year’s Hajj package cost was pegged at $5,000. Hajj is a ritual performed in some of Islam’s holiest sites, and is the fifth pillar of the faith. Millions of followers of the religion converge to perform it every year.