Bobby and Hill Valley Hotel staff prepared hundreds of bag lunches to feed handicapped war victims in downtown Freetown. The number of handicapped people in Sierra Leone is staggering. An estimated 25,000 people were victims of amputations and disabling injuries during the decade-long civil war. Many are without work, essentially homeless and often resort to begging on the street for money to buy food.
Their presence is a constant reminder of the devastation inflicted on the country in the struggle for power, diamonds and resources. UPDATE: A large cache of tools will be arriving in mid-April to set up a workshop cooperative for this community.
Bobby visited with some of them in a makeshift shelter in downtown Freetown. The conditions they have to live in, often with children and other family members is very primitive. Dirt floors and little rooms separated by boards or cloth that house too many in very tight and unsanitary spaces. Bobby talked with one of the guys who said he received training from the government and a certificate of skills so he is able to work. Unfortunately, with rudimentary tools and no money to purchase materials, they are unable to create products that can be sold in the market.
This is truly a monumental challenge in Sierra Leone, but even very modest investments in materials and tools could provide a leg up for these people who have a desire to work and an opportunity for a better life. As we better understand their needs and finds ways to provide relief, we hope to provide that opportunity for some of these communities in Freetown and throughout Salone.
On an afternoon trip to the Home Depot in February, we purchased a large cache of hand tools to start a Workshop Cooperative for amputees and paraplegics. We are shipping the tools to our Hill Valley friends to get it set up. UPDATE: The tools are in the process of shipping and should arrive in mid-late April.