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Day of Peace Observed in Freetown


Freetown, Sierra Leone - Joining the whole world on September 21 to celebrate the International Day of Peace, UPF-Sierra Leone embarked on an attitudinal change by undertaking an environmental cleaning exercise at the Connaught Teaching Government Hospital on the theme of "Service for peace and democracy."

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Connaught Hospital was built in 1912 during the British colonial era before Sierra Leone gained independence on April 27, 1961. It is the oldest and most central hospital in Sierra Leone. It has 13 wards, 700 sick beds, offices, a kitchen, laundry, operating theatre, etc. It was in a deplorable and messy state of affairs both in terms of administration and care for patients. Patients complain of excessive filth in all parts of the hospital compound, and rats and cockroaches enter the patients' rooms. Patients complain of poor sanitation, but the hospital lacks an adequate labor force and has few resources. The sanitation/environmental unit has only two laborers, since most of its work force has been cut over the past five years. Since the administration can no longer manage these tasks, UPF met two weeks previously and decided to take up this task.

Ambassadors for Peace gathered at 9:00 am September 21 at the dental clinic of the Connaught Teaching Hospital before embarking the exercise. We were received by the Hospital Manager Mr. Foday Musa, the Matron, and senior staff of the hospital.

Since we are interfaith organization with people from all walks of life, onlookers were amazed to see the spirit of togetherness and readiness to carry out our vision in Sierra Leone. To see 60 Christians, Muslims, and other people of faith working together in this clean-up activity has drawn the much attention. Sierra Leone is a predominately Muslim nation but has a large Christian minority. Ambassadors for Peace also talked with the patients and prayed with them. This was a unique demonstration of interfaith cooperation in action.

After the cleaning, Ambassadors for Peace met with hospital staff to discuss ways of helping the management supplement its labor force. Ambassadors for Peace proposed that the hospital clean-up be a quarterly activity for the next five years. The meeting concluded with refreshment for Ambassadors prepared by the management as a sign of appreciation. This project will be extended to other government-owned hospitals within the Freetown Municipality.

A SLBC-TV reporter who interviewed the National President of UPF had to say this: “Indeed the world is moving to new direction of hope for humanity.” We had full coverage by the national TV (Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation Television), and afterwards, the National Secretary General was invited to the local popular program “WE YUS,” which means in English "Have Your News." This program updates the general public about current developments in the country and is broadcast every Monday, Wednesday. and Friday.

UPF activities have started gaining recognition even from the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Hon. Zainab H. Bangura, who was pleased that this hospital, which has been marred with excessive filth, could cleaned. Ambassadors for Peace were commended for undertaking such a laudable task which no other organization has ever done; we were told that the Sierra Leone Red Cross attempted to undertake such a venture but failed. The Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation went to the scene to gain information about our organization, but he came after we had returned to our homes.

In another encounter, UPF met with the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change Secretariat on September 5. This Secretariat was set up by the President, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, to fulfill his Agenda for Change. During our meeting with the Executive Director Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas and his staff at the Secretariat office, we had a fruitful discussion that helped both parties support each other in various ways especially in the area of promoting our vision and helping the president achieve his Agenda for Peace.

Note: The Agenda for Change, adopted in 2008, is a national framework for growth, economic progress, human development, and peacebuilding. To read a report by the UN Integrated office for Sierra Leone, click here.

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