This was revealed by Hon. Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden on Sunday 19th March 2017 in Nieni Chiefdom, Koinadugu district. The Cabinet Minister was speaking as she handed over the keys for one of the offices; the one rented for Koinadugu Ebola survivor
The Minister also revealed that survivors around the country have now collected several billions of leones in cash presentations across 13 electoral districts including Urban Freetown and Rural Western Area. Hon. Blyden was speaking as she also presented about 100 Million leones to all 38 identified and verified Ebola Survivors in Koinadugu District, being their last tranche of cash in the SPRES programme that was initiated and signed by her about a year ago. The SPRES is funded by the United Nations.
The presentation was done by the Minister at the newly rented office for Ebola Survivors in Nieni Chiefdom.
In his statement the Paramount Chief of the Chiefdom PC Foday Umaru Jalloh III expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Social Welfare Minister for her resilience and effort to not only present the cash to the survivors but to visit the chiefdom and to address the women and children. He praised president Koroma for being a man of his words, adding that the president promised to cushion the transition period for Ebola Survivors to move from being discharged patients to becoming once again self-reliant. He admitted that the post Ebola recovery priority of the president is tangible in all sectors inside his chiefdom especially amongst survivors. “Our president promised and today we can all see that he has kept his promise. Even here in far-away Nieni Chiefdom, the president has the Ebola survivors in his heart,” he said.
He added that he feels relieved witnessing the handing over of cash to the 38 Ebola survivors in the district as “I have been undergoing serious pressure from these people, but with this type of support from the government, I believe they will now be self-reliant and do things on their own”. He appealed to the minister to consider helping some of the orphans in his chiefdom. He maintained that he had been faced with challenges helping these orphans in the chiefdom. “I would be grateful if you (Minister) could help us appeal to SOS Children’s home to take these orphans, so they can have a better life”. The paramount chief described Dr. Blyden as a fearless woman who stands for the development of the country and whose work has been to fight against corruption and fight for the less privileged.
Team Leader Inclusive Growth Cluster (UNDP), Ghulam Sheram, commended the minister of social welfare for accompanying the UNDP team to officially hand-over the final set of money to Ebola Survivors in the Koinadugu District. He revealed that they appreciate the fact that the government prioritized the issues of Ebola survivors in the country and as an institution they would continue to partner with the government in its development strides. He appealed to the beneficiaries to use the money judiciously as it was the last money for survivors in the country. He maintained that several training programmes were undertaken with survivors by World Hope in order to encourage them and show them how they should invest their cash.
Handing over the office keys to P.C Jalloh for onward handing over to Ebola survivors, the Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden who spent the weekend in Nieni with survivors assured them that although the Le100 Million cash was the last payment under the SPRESS Programme, but she will continue to work in partnership with the survivors in order to ensure that they invest their payment judiciously.
She revealed that the government has secured an office space in the chiefdom and have already paid rent for the next two years, a demonstration of government’s commitment towards survivors not only in Nieni chiefdom but nationwide. She maintained that government decided to give the survivors such a huge amount of money so that they could be self-reliant, “government will not continue to give you money, you have to use this money to empower yourself based on the numerous skills training you have received. Ebola survivors should not be seen depending on the government for survival, you have to strive to survive like any other Sierra Leonean,” she said. Dr. Blyden revealed that the Ebola survivors will be monitored on a quarterly basis so as to see how they are doing and how they have helped changed their lives.