Sierra Leone – "Don Bosco Fambul" draws on experience during Ebola to face coronavirus

30 March 2020

(ANS - Freetown) - "We feel very close to Spain right now, because we know what it means to be in quarantine, to be afraid to go out on the street, to see people die during the epidemic ... We lived with Ebola."  These are the words of the Salesian missionary Fr Jorge Crisafulli, director of the "Don Bosco Fambul" work in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The work he directs is prepared for the arrival of the pandemic, having had the experience of overcoming Ebola without ever ceasing to take care of the most needy children.

To date, Sierra Leone has not reported any cases of Covid-19 infections. But Liberia and Guinea Conakry, which border the country, have had some. In any case, the Salesians do not have too many illusions, because they know that it is difficult to make sure if there really have been no cases in Sierra Leone. "There are only two places where tests are possible, and also here poverty has always caused the death of people, from malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis, AIDS …," they say.

As a preventive key, the country's airport has been closed to international flights since last week, just as land borders have been closed. Public religious celebrations are prohibited, meetings with more than 100 people and schools will be closed this week. However, everyone knows that as soon as there is a positive case, quarantine and curfew will be mandatory.

The Salesians in Sierra Leone took care of orphaned children during the Ebola epidemic, working closely with the government, and are renowned for their work for children. For weeks now, the spiritual children of Don Bosco have been informing the street children they welcome and the population of the poorest neighborhoods on the necessary measures to take to prevent contagion.

Missionaries ensure that they are prepared for the worst. "As soon as the first case is declared, we will close visits to all our homes, because they are green areas where boys and girls are not infected: we will protect them by placing ourselves in self-quarantine." And if the emergency for the pandemic is declared, given that the school will be closed, "we will transform it into a care and reception center for 400 street children, obviously with all the necessary precautions towards everyone."

Prevention protocols in the African country were put in place a long time ago. However, there are two needs that concern the Salesians at the moment: "On the one hand, putting food aside, because in these cases social problems then follow and we must continue to feed many people who depend on us. And then we have to buy cleaning materials and medicines to deal with this crisis."

From "Don Bosco Fambul" Fr Crisafulli sends a message of hope for the whole world: "We pray for you, in Spain, and you don't have to worry, because everything will end well ... God created us, loves us and takes care of us even in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic."


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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