Sierra Leone is a republic in West Africa with an area of 71.740 sq km. Sierra Leone is bordered by Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic. There are approximately 5.34 million people living in Sierra Leone, or about 75 people per square kilometer. Life expectancy was 42.6 years according to WHO data for 2006. This makes Sierra Leone one of the five countries with the lowest life expectancy.
For years, the former British colony has occupied the last place on UNDP's list, equivalent to the status of the least developed of 177 surveyed countries. The medical care is not guaranteed, as the resulting costs can not be applied. The equipment in the few hospitals and medical practices is more than makeshift.
Already one of the poorest countries in the world, the plight after the devastating civil war between 1991 and 2001 became even greater. Even today, many people live in shelters, as entire villages have been eradicated and massacred.
The children, who lost their parents during the war, are particularly suffering. They are usually only provisionally supplied by relatives or neighbors. There is no roof over the head, no bed, rarely meals and hardly any clothes. The tuition can not be raised. The children fight for the bare survival from today after tomorrow with no prospects for the future.
The situation has aggravated by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The country, together with Guinea and Liberia, has experienced the largest and most complex outbreaks of the disease. Thousands of deaths are left by orphans who, for fear of contagion, find no new home and live on the streets.
Walk on the beach. We were happy to be with us for a moment. So many first impressions had to be processed. There he was suddenly. Abass.
Did we find him? Did he find us? Who can say that? Today we know: we met each other.
His walking aids had certainly experienced better times, the lower part, which is used for extension, is completely absent, the rest shows nothing of its former color but rust. On his feet flip-flops, he always gets stuck in the sand and we slow down our steps so he can keep up with us.
He is probably 5 or 6 years old when in the war a bullet pierced his right leg. For days he waits for help alone in a ditch. At some point someone comes, takes him to a hospital. He undergoes emergency: his parents are dead. Much later somebody tells him that two younger siblings survived. He is too small, too injured, too traumatized for possible hints. Later, no one will know anything about the whereabouts of his siblings, possible traces will have been lost, how much is lost. So also Abass memory of his birth date. Abass does not know when he was born. Abass also has no address. He lives on the beach. His only possession: The T-shirt and the shorts he wears and washes every day, his flip-flops, at least two sizes too big and his biggest sweetheart, his assistants, rusted, way too short, but without them he could not walk.
Abass asks for help. No, he did not want money. He wanted to attend school: This boy has to learn. Reading, writing, arithmetic. This boy has to be able to take care of himself later.
We are deeply moved. Our first thought: His story does not fit into our plans. But it was already too late, because his story had long since spread in our hearts when we were not even sure if we understood everything correctly.
Meanwhile, Abass visits the school with growing enthusiasm. Our friend Lamin Bangura called Coleson has included him in his family. A Schermbecker godfather for Abass has been found and even received the first personal lines written by Abass himself. Our plan is supplemented by an important point: When the children's house is ready, will also move into it.
Nice that there is you, Abass Tarawally. Welcome to our life.