I heard many ‘welcome back’, ‘how is your family’, and saw their sincere love in their eyes. A people who have been through so much still could smile and show kindness. Allow me to mention that there was one being that showed such special joy to see me that just knocked me over and that was Oscar, my dog that I have had since a pup. I have been out of Sierra Leone for over a year because of Ebola but the emotion that Oscar showed me was truly touching he was jumping almost somersaulting with glee! I am home at last!
On Saturday the 7th of November, Sierra Leone was officially declared by the World Health Organisation an Ebola Free Nation. For all intent and purposes that should have been happy news, news for rejoicing, news for celebrating but it was a bittersweet moment. So many people have died, so many families have been either completely wiped out or almost all, so many children left orphaned, so many doctors and nurses caught or died of that dreaded virus. Battle depression, stigma and lack of recognition are some of the feelings ebola survivors are experiencing.
There are young people who have now taken on the responsibility of being the family carers. At the age of 16 they have had to stop going to school in order to look after their younger siblings, their future changed forever. Ebola has brought about so much grief in this country but we must not forget there continues to be the daily problems such as floods, poverty and health issues. The thousands of flood victims who have been temporarily housed in the National Stadium will soon be relocated to more permanent housing which is being built by the government in the outer suburbs of Freetown.
At the Waterloo Orthodox Christian School we have our Ebola orphans attending school. Some of which have never been at school so Susan Haggblom (a volunteer from New Jersey trained in the Montessori Method) and I will be going to give them extra lessons in order to bring them up to a more proficient standard.
As from today Thursday 19th November, we had some very sad news as our dear friend Maximus (Bobson) Kamara has passed away. Maximus was the first person I met when I came for the very first time in 2012. He was then Manager and Public Relations Officer for the Holy Orthodox Archdiocesan District of Sierra Leone. He was co-founder with King David of the Orthodox Youth Fellowship. Every Sunday he would be in church and he would recite the Lord’s Prayer in Krio and then would act as an interpreter for Father Themi’s Sermon. I will always remember him as a tall, lean, handsome gentleman always smiling, soft spoken and always impeccably dressed in his African costumes. He was a great story teller and whenever I would visit him in his office in Sykes Street he would tell me so many fascinating tales. In fact I went to visit him at home last week and I asked him to write his memoirs as I reminded him of some of the stories he had recounted and with that smile on his face he promised me he would do so. Maximus was a very prominent and respected member of the Sierra Leonean society. He was a journalist, a veteran actor, song writer, playwright, radio and news producer, a lecturer of drama, councillor of Freetown City Council, deputy mayor of Freetown City Council, founder and artistic director of FOROD performing Arts and Craft Company, founder and first director of Ronko Theatre Company, (it became the most popular and most awarded theatre company ever in Sierra Leone and perhaps Africa), choreographer of the National Dance Troupe representing Sierra Leone all over the world. Maximus was a very talented singer and performer. He wrote the musical “Sonny Boy” influenced by the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible. This play was performed at the State House and watched by the then President Siaka Stevens and Vice President S.I. Koroma before they left office in 1985. He had studied in Paris and spoke perfect French, often we would convert to speaking in French together. He was such a cultured, creative, peaceful and loving man. He leaves behind his devoted wife Monica and 4 children. We will never forget Maximus in our Orthodox Mission, he was such an inspiration to whoever met him, and I will always keep him close to my heart, as my very dearest friend and mentor. Au Revoir Maximus!
“Eternal Be Your Memory”