Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 November 2022:
Two days ago, we marked the Seventh Anniversary of the Declaration of the End of the Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone. We lost 3956 of our brothers and sisters, in some instances whole families and villages were wiped out.
Today there are thousands of Ebola survivors who are still struggling with the long-term effects of the virus and who continue to need the support of government to assist them with access to medical care.
Ebola hit Sierra Leone hard, but it also brought us together and helped us see that there are heroes and heroines living next door to us. People who mobilized their communities, mobilized resources, put themselves in danger in order to save others.
As we remember those we lost and those who still suffer, I am also encouraged by what we learnt – that change can come when we work together to execute clear plans and when we community at the heart of decision making.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve my nation at that critical time. I arrived in Freetown onboard an empty plane on 13/11/2014 at the height of the outbreak, having already spent months in the UK raising international awareness and mobilizing health professionals to support the response.
I was committed to a three-month assignment to work in Sierra Leone with DFID through UKMed. My project management and strategic planning skills and experience resulted in me being asked to serve in NERC as the Director of Planning, working with many others to develop and implement strategies (including the “Western Area Surge Plan” in December 2014 and “Getting to Zero” in March 2015) to end the outbreak.
We give thanks to God for taking Sierra Leone through that very difficult time and we hold faith that together we can stand to overcome other challenges to our lives and a better future. May the souls of the departed Rest In Peace.