Σάββατο, 18 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

Sierra Leone: Andrew Tsakas Volunteer Missionary from Brisbane Australia...

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(Pictured: Andrew Tsakas, Father Themi, Rugiatu Turay)
 
" Today was an amazing day, and my first real experience of the hands on work done at mission here in Sierra Leone. After a few last-minute updates to the ever-troubling internet connection I attended a meeting between the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs Rugiatu Turay, Mary and Father Themi.
The meeting was enlightening and gave me a better insight into the work done here and the projects in development for the future.
After the initial meeting, we moved into a larger conference room to discuss the situation, as well as a new initiative, at Waterloo, the mission’s campus for the disabled. It was decided that the relocation of some of the older residents of the campus was the best option for long term sustainability. The mission would give them financial assistance to begin their own local businesses so they could integrate into society and become more self-sufficient.
“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Due to the complete lack of public welfare, which can be attributed to the poverty of the nation, the mission could only help so many people at one particular time. The meeting's main aim today was to assist four of the resident’s relocation. I was fortunate to hear a brief history of the development of Waterloo as well as a few anecdotes from over the years.
It is difficult to understand the cultural aspect in regards to disability within Sierra Leone. In Australia, and most Western and European cultures we have a positive outlook towards disability, attempting to care for and assist as much as possible. But the case is not so here, with the majority of locals treating and referring to the disabled with great distain. As a result, they turn to squatting and begging, isolating themselves from the rest of the population and distrusting anyone without a disability.
I soon heard a story from the earlier days of the disability initiative that shocked me quite a bit. Father Themi and Father Kyriakos visited a local abandoned apartment block, that was being used as a squatter’s residence. The goal was to communicate with, and assist the residents by proposing the compound that exists today. On arrival, the local group reacted quite badly to the presence of the two abled priests, and pulled a knife on them, attempting to stab Father Themi. In a heroic turn of events Father Kyriakos leapt in front of the attacker, getting stabbed in the process. This man was now officially a badass in my eyes.
Since that initial encounter seven years, the mission at Waterloo has come a long way. The compound is an extremely safe place to visit, thank God, as it’s my destination tomorrow for day 4."
 

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