By Kemo Cham
Over 60 people have benefitted from a donation by the Fullah Progressive Union (FPU) as support towards the response to the November 2021 deadly fire disaster in Wellington in the east end of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
The donation was provided by Gbantal Pulahu, a branch of the FPU chapter in Australia. The items included bags of rice, cooking oil, tomatos, onions, table salt and packaged water.
The consignment was presented directly to the beneficiaries at a ceremony at the Momoh Lane Mosque in Old Wharf, Wellington on Tuesday, December 28, by officials of FOCUS 1000.
Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, a member of the National FPU and CEO of FOCUS 1000, disclosed that the package was estimated at Le25million. He said FOCUS 1000 was selected as partner to present the donation because the gesture resonates with its mission, which is promotion of wellbeing and development.
Mr Jalloh explained that the donation was the group’s way of contributing to the ongoing national response to the disaster which occurred on November 5, when a loaded fuel tanker was hit by a truck, leading to one of the worst explosions ever in the country.
Nearly 100 people died in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Dozens others who were caught in the fire sustained severe injuries, some eventually dying in hospital.
Official data show that as of mid-December, about 150 people had lost their lives as a result of the disaster.
Most of the victims were young people, mainly commercial motor bike riders. Many of them were from Old Wharf, which is situated in close proximity to the scene of the disaster.
Mr Jalloh recognised government’s support to the victims and said their gesture is meant to be complementary to those efforts.
“We know that many of the victims were bike riders. And many of them died and left their families behind. This support is to help such families. Some were wounded. Even though they were lucky to be alive, they may be finding it difficult to move on with life due to their injuries and losses in livelihoods,” the FOCUS 1000 CEO said.
“This will not solve their problems, but it is to show that we also care about them,” he added.
The FPU is an association comprising membership of people who identify with the Fullah ethnicity, one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Its goal is to promote its cultural heritage and diversity.
Chapters of FPU have recently sprung across Africa, Europe, the US and beyond. The organization invests in the promotion of socioeconomic development, including through awarding of scholarships. It also serves as a charity, whereby it provides humanitarian support to needy people and communities.
This FPU Australia branch has previously supported vulnerable people in Sierra Leone through FOCUS 1000, notably during the 2014-2016 West African Ebola epidemic.
Among the beneficiaries of its latest intervention is Pa Alusine Kargbo, Chairman of the Masjid, who lost his grandson in the inferno. He broke down while recalling how the late boy had been asleep after returning from playing football when the accident happened and was woken by a friend to go the location, only to get caught up in the explosion.
Amid his anguish, Mr Kargbo showered praises and prayer on the benefactors for their gesture.
Other beneficiaries included Mariatu Kargbo and Joseph M. Koroma, who spoke on behalf of their colleagues in expressing gratitude.
Chief Imam of the mosque, Sheikh Barrie, also showered praises on the benefactors for their gesture, praying for them and their families for remembering to support their needy fellow Sierra Leoneans. The Imam also prayed for Sierra Leoneans to continue promoting unity and oneness in the interest of the development of the country.