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Archive for June, 2011

Sierra Leone War Victim Presses On Despite Obstacles

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Damba Koroma, a survivor of the 1991 civil war in Sierra Leone

Damba Koroma, a survivor of the 1991 civil war in Sierra Leone

For eleven years, the West African country of Sierra Leone was torn apart by civil war. The war began in 1991, when a rebel group (called the Revolutionary United Front) launched a campaign to control the country’s rich diamond fields. The rebels attacked civilians in villages, using machetes and axes to sever their arms, legs, lips and ears. Damba Koroma was only five when rebels cut off her left arm. As a young girl she was brought to the United States, where she has just completed high school.

On the right arm and hand – perfect nails. On the other – only a memory of what once was there. But Damba Koroma doesn’t dwell on the past. Cooking is one of her passions. Days before her high school graduation, she is enjoying making a salad in her cooking class. She uses special prosthetic tools.

“I find it really cool how you can make something really good and tasty that people will love and I love to eat,” she said.

 

Teacher Craig Scheuerman helped her get the cooking tools, which were donated by a non-profit foundation. He says Koroma is one of the best students he’s ever had.

“I thought she had a disability, and clearly she did not. She’s been phenomenal at working in the kitchen,” he stated. “She can work as fast as someone with two hands.”

Her classmates agree, saying she is very helpful. Daryl Hale says he is impressed by her as she’s just a good person all around. Josoph Jackson adds, she is willing to help and shares her knowledge with others.

Growing up during Sierra Leone’s civil war, Koroma recalls the day in 1997 when rebels attacked her village, demanding money from her mother who said she didn’t have any. The leader of the group said Koroma would be used an example of what would happen if people didn’t give them what they wanted.

“They chopped my left arm off and then they did the same to my mother. And then, after that they did the same to several other villagers who were also there on that day,” Koroma explained.

Damba says it took three days for her family to walk through the chaos to get to a hospital. After that, she spent several years traveling from one refugee camp to another, seeking help from people in nearby cities.

“My mom and I, during the day, we would go inside the city to beg for money or for food,” she recalled.

While mother and daughter were in a camp for amputees, Koroma was given an opportunity in 2000 to come to the United States to be fitted for a prosthetic arm. She was afraid to go back to Sierra Leone.

When her story became known, Sahr Pombor and his wife, Josephine, stepped forward to become her guardians in Alexandria, Virginia.

“I couldn’t image how much pain she suffered. It just tore me apart,” he said.

The newlywed Sierra Leonean couple, who had come to the U.S. to flee conflict in their country, suddenly found themselves with their first child. They would later have three daughters of their own. Josephine Pombor says her sister gave her advice about how to help Koroma adjust.

“Just grab the hand and kiss it, just tell her you love her and I did that a lot,” Pombor recalled. “And as she grew older I began to notice that she was more confident in herself.”

Damba says she is not bitter about the loss of her hand.

“Even though I have one hand, even though I have pretty rough background, I’m not going to let it stop me from doing what I what to do,” she said.

Last April, Koroma went back to Sierra Leone for the first time since leaving for the United States. She met with other amputees and spoke to students about never giving up. She also reunited with her mother and other family members.

“I felt at home. I felt like I had been with them forever, even though I hadn’t seen them in almost 11 years,” she noted.

Koroma is going to college in a few months and hopes to study international development. Sierra Leone, she says, is still rebuilding from war. Her goal is to help build a hospital for women and children in the country.

“I’m really passionate about helping other people because it’s a way of giving back because a lot of people have helped me along the way,” she said.

20 June 2011: The Zainab Bangura Exclusive Interview: Part One

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Two weeks ago, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, was in New York to attend the United Nations High’Level HIV/AIDS Conference. During her stay, she gave COCORIOKO what she herself described as her very first media interview since she was transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Health Ministry. It must be recalled that this newspaper was  the first the new Foreign Minister, Hon. J .B .Dauda, gave an interview.  We bring you the first installment of the Zainab Bangura exclusive interview conducted in New York.  In this first segment of the interview, Zainab Bangura wishes that she had been appointed to the Health Ministry from the beginning and she gives a graphic picture of the crisis of health care delivery in Sierra Leone. We will bring you the interview in series so that you will fully grasp the monumental challenges Sierra Leone faces in providing health care to over 6 million people.

KABS KANU: Thank you very much, Madam Minister for accepting our invitation for this exclusive interview.In November last year, President Ernest Koroma made a cabinet reshuffle which saw you being re-appointed Minister of Health and Sanitation. How do you feel about your new assignment?

MRS. ZAINAB BANGURA:  Thank you very much, Mr. Kabs-Kanu. Since taking office after going through all prepared briefing papers, meeting with various stakeholders , including our development partners ,crisscrossing the country and inspecting all health facilities, talking to all cadres of stakeholders ,I have  been able to understand the crucial and strategic importance of the Ministry of Health and thus I have become emotionally and psychologically attached to the unique role the Ministry plays not only in the life of the ordinary citizens but the overall development of the country. It is the only sector that affects the lives of everybody before their birth and their death. I have come to value the sanctity of life and respect the right to life of every individual. Therefore, by and large, it has been an exciting and interesting experience for me and I have come to love the job so much so that I wish I had been appointed to this Ministry from the beginning , because then I could have been able to do quite a lot more for my people. I have come to learn that there is a lot to be done in the Ministry.

KABS KANU: Everybody knows that the Health Ministry is a crucial and strategically important Ministry as you have said. I can also just imagine the challenges in such a Ministry.

MRS.ZAINAB BANGURA: You are right that there are many challenges , but what I have done is try to be focussed and strategic  and thus to prioritize because of the limited time that remains before the next elections. The first priority is the area of human resources. We have a huge problem with the number of professionally skilled workers in the Ministry. Out of a population of about 6 million, we have about 150 medical doctors , including dentists in the public service. Only 60 of them are clinicians , i.e .those who are really practising in hospitals. We have 4 pediatricians , about 5 surgeon specialists and about 4 gynaecologists . If you take the South and the East, we have only 1 surgeon specialist for the 2 regions. To further complicate the problem, we have a maldistribution of these staff , with most of the staff concentrated in the Western Area. Thus, the huge challenge is that we fall far below the WHO standard for doctor-to-patient ratio. And as if that is not enough, we lack a lot of specia;lizations , e.g cardio-vascular surgeons. Therefore the problem is that with the increase in non-communicable diseases like the various forms of cancer , diabetes , kidney diseases we do not have the capacity to do early diagnosis and thus treat patients at the beginning of their diseases. This is why I am talking to the  Cubans, the  Sudanese , the Nigerians ..how we can augment the services of some foreign personnel to come and help us. The challenge also is with midwives and nurses .Ideally, with the introduction of free health care and the 200% increase in the number of people seeking medical care , we should have midwives in our 1, 270  health posts but we have less than 100 midwives in the whole country. What this means is that we are having in most of these health posts maternal and child health and nursing aides to provide services for which they are not properly trained and equipped, thus complicating the problems for us.


14 June 2011:  Health Minister warns thieves:  Punishment for pilfering drugs and medical supplies will be severe
Published by Cocorioko News – The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura , has warned all concerned to keep their thieving hands off the drugs and medical supplies meant to make Sierra Leone a healthy nation and for President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Free health care for lactating mothers, pregnant women and children under five. The Minister warned that if anybody dares to steal any of the drugs or medical supplies, the government will go after that person.” Whoever you are and wherever you are, we will go after you and drag you out, and believe me, your punishment will be severe.”

The no-nonsense Minister yesterday  gave this stern warning at the Permanent Mission to Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York where she gave her first comprehensive media interview since her appointment to the Ministry last November. Speaking to the Publisher of COCORIOKO, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, who pulled off yet another vital exclusive interview with a government official, Mrs. Bangura said that the government takes a very serious view of some unpatriotic citizens who instead of helping the government to accomplish its commitments to the people, have decided to engage in unpatriotic acts like pilfering and thieving. She said that the government will not allow any such undesirable acts to undermine its efforts to make Sierra Leone a better nation. “We will teach you a lesson that others will see and fear.”

The Minister was responding  to a question about whether there are challenges in her new assignment. She admitted that  there are many challenges indeed. She mentioned many of the challenges and one of the most important ones she emphasized was what she described as the SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT OF DRUGS. “The distribution and management of drugs throughout the country is a big challenge indeed. We have discovered that the drugs normally do not reach most of the health posts because no proper monitoring and evaluation mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the drugs reach their final destination or are distributed according to guidelines.”  Furthermore, the very frank Minister stated : We have not been able to put in place proper systems to get forecasts of the exact  estimates of drugs required for the year, and as a result we have always been working on estimates and creating stock-outs for use.”

Mrs.Bangura explained that some of these problems are manifesting because when free health care was introduced by President Koroma , there was a such a deluge of people accessing the health facilities, with the percentage of people seeking health care trottling to 200% , that the government’s first daunting task  was to address access and the sustainability of the program.

She said that with the serious problems of lack of sufficient skilled workers and staff, overburdened and overworked personnel  due to the dramatic increase in patients and poor infrastructure, there was always going to be  the problem of the drugs not reaching their intended targets . She stated emphatically: “This is an issue that is unacceptable to us and every effort is being made to ensure that prompt action is taken on this, like putting proper monitoring teams in place to control the leakage.  Also, severe action will be taken against anybody who is found wanting  in the handling and distribution of these drugs, irrespective of their positions ,status or where they are.”  The Minister emphasized that it was not right for anybody to pilfer with drugs and medical supplies and she warned that those who do not heed the message will have only themselves to blame when they are caught.

She said medical professionals have an ethical and moral responsibility to respect the sanctity of life, the right to life and to treat all patients with dignity. As for the generality of Sierra Leoneans, she challenged them to to join the government to monitor the implementation mechanism to ensure the successful implementation of free health care, “Because health care issues are non-political, non-religious and go beyond gender boundaries.  This is why we say that health comes first and health is life.”

On Fathers’ Day, Kanu family celebrates 50th Independence Anniversary Award as well

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

By Solomon Sesay :

The Kanu family not only used today ( FATHERS’ DAY )   to  thank  COCORIOKO Publisher , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , for being a great father but  they organized a dinner to congratulate him  for  helping to bring pride to the family through  the awards he has been receiving for excellent journalism. Thus, Fathers’ Day in the Kanu household was a double dose of celebration today as the  family used the occasion to celebrate the LEADERSHIP AWARD Kabs Kanu won three weeks ago for his Journalism abilities during the 50th Independence Anniversary Banquet and Awards Night in Washington DC. It was a memorable dinner during which the Publisher heard encouraging words from his family.

Thanking them  for the honour, Rev. Kabs-Kanu today told his family that he owes his success to all of them because they have all contributed one way or the other to his successful Journalism career. He said he will use the dinner to name all those who in one way or the other helped to motivate him to fulfill his ambition to be a journalist for which he is receiving awards now and again.

  • His elder brother Max Kanu, FBC graduate and former Producer  of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service ( SLBS) , who encouraged him immensely when the Publisher started his Journalism career as a young boy while they grew up in Freetown and later Bo. The Publisher said that the affirmation he received then from his elder brother motivated him and helped him reach the present height where he is a proud holder of 5 journalism awards in all. He recalled those days when  Max would go all out to ensure that he possessed copies of the SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL or foreign newspapers and magazines that reported significant events he knew his younger brother who loved Journalism would like to see. Those were the days when reading the Daily Mail was all a Sierra Leonean needed to be abreast of events in the country. Today, there are so many newspapers and yet you read nothing substantial about Sierra Leone.  Kabs Kanu also credited his elder brother with introducing him to the cream of Sierra Leone’s journalists in those days. Another effort Kabs Kanu thanked his elder brother for was for ensuring that he never missed a single copy of Sierra Leone newspapers while he lived in Liberia from 1978 to the time Max himself left for the U.S. in the late 1980s. ” My brother made sure that I received Sierra Leone newspapers on a regular basis in Liberia ” , the Publisher recalled . “Anybody who went to Liberia in those days could recall the bundles of newspapers they always had to deliver for me in Monrovia. My brother would never know what those bundles of newspapers meant to me. They kept me in touch with my country and the political, social, economic ans sporting events there. I was in Liberia only in body but in spirit I was in Sierra Leone because I was following up everything going on there.I was so au fait with events in Sierra Leone  .   I remember in 1981 when the offices of the TABLET newspaper were attacked. I had heard it earlier before going to visit a schoolmate, Desmond Mensah-Coker, a CKC  alumnus as well, who was an associate of Pios Foray, Kposowa and Hindolo Trye. He had just arrived on a visit to  Liberia. During our discussions we started talking about the TABLET and I told him about the attack on the paper’s offices. Desmond denied the story ferociously and asked me where I got it because he just came from Freetown and did not know about it. The next day, however, Desmond heard the news himself and was really amazed how I got the story before him who had just  left Sierra Leone. Through my brother I had established a network of sources who briefed me regularly about events in the country, just as it is happening today “.
  • The Publisher also  praised his wife, Mrs. Tigidankay Kanu, a Director of Nursing, who has been a lifelong partner for 38 years, and who has endured with him all the pains, frustrations, disenchantment  and dangers of the profession . “I thank her for enduring all the  sleep interruptions when scoops comes in by telephone in the dead of night. ” He also thanked his children , especially Freddy Will, the artist, who makes him proud of his achievements.
  • Also commended for motivating him were his inlaws, Alhaji Sheikh Abdul Gardie and Mrs. Patricia Gardrie ( A former U.S. Peace corps volunteer in Sierra Leone ). “They will never know how much they motivated me with their support ”.
  • His younger brothers , also FBC graduates — Joskyn Kamah Kanu, now living in the UK and John “Joe Cool ” Kanu of the Gambia.  They too lived in the reality of a brother who loved Journalism and had an insatiable appetite to read newspapers and magazines. They will go all out to make sure that they got me something to read. If they visited friends whose fathers were literate and bought newspapers, they would make sure they borrowed the papers to bring to an elder brother,  who,  they knew,  would be interested in reading them.
  • Much younger brother Bassie (Boss K ) Kanu  , also an FBC Graduate and now member of the editorial board of the COTTON TREE news media in Sierra Leone. His words of encouragement will not be forgotten.
  • Also , not  forgotten  in the litany of praises , of course,  were  the parents , who, though now dead,  gave the Publisher a great start in life by sending him to good schools. “I remember how mum would sacrifice to make sure that I had extra money for lunch because she knew that I would definitely use part of the money to buy the DAILY MAIL and if she did not add an extra I would go hungry whole day in school because I would prefer buying a newspaper than eating . I also will never forget how I harassed Mammy Yeabu every Saturday morning for money to go buy the Daily Mail and read Zac Humphrey’s or Khalil Kamara’s preview of the big matches in Freetown during the weekend .I loved their analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and players before the games. Those were the days of real sports writing in Sierra Leone ” ,  the Publisher recalled.
  • The Publisher also praised other family members “like the Uncle Dissas,Uncle Sories, Uncle Saibas ,  Kotor Musas, Kotor Kapries, Kotor Hassanas , Kotor Johns and the like who , though men of modest means, also would be thoughtful enough to bring me something to read wherever they found one ,an old magazine or newspaper. No newspaper or magazine was ever old for me to read “.
  • The Publisher also expressed thanks to his schoolmates and college mates whose encouragement helped to motivate him. He mentioned names like Pios Foray, Sigismond Massaquoi, Felix Risk, Wurie Kai-Samba, Joseph Nyalley, Sylvester Foday  of CKC and members of the Auradicals Club of FBC during college days, his roomate Abioseh Porter (Now a Professor and Head of Department of English at Drexel University ) Francois Parker, Emmanuel Grant, Souley Daramy, Andrew Bangali, Abdullah Mansaray, Freddy Keita, John Karimu etc . “Their words of  encouragement  whenever I wrote a nice article gave me what is known as self-belief and the necessary staying power.” The former Student Union Presidents of FBC like the late Kemoh Sulimani Sr , Boubaccar Njai-Bah , Foday Kallon and Hindolo Trye were also commended for the recognition they provided which was a source of motivation.
  • Teachers were not left out. Messrs Kaye (SLC, Bo), Mrs.Paris (SLC, Bo) , Gaima, Sheku , Morrison , Lumumba Rogers ,  K.P.Jackson, Murray Kelly , Father Lambe (CKC) and Dr. Eustace Palmer of FBC  also motivated him highly by recognizing his writing abilities at one time or the other . Dr. Palmer’s words of praise during an Auradicals Party at Aureol Sub where he served as Guest Speaker helped motivate him after he left college.
  • THE LEONENET (UMBC ), which prepared him for the hard knocks of the profession , got praised too. “Whenever  I was slain by bitter attacks or  caustic  criticisms by the intellectuals of the forum for my articles or analyses, it helped me to learn to avoid the pitfalls of writing and to also learn to be thick-skinned when the heavens appear to be falling because of an article or comment that did not go well with people. Leonenet was my training ground for developing the panache and thick skin needed to survive a profession like Journalism “. The Publisher said that it was one of his one-time critics, Dr. Cecil Blake, a world-famed  Mass Communications Professor, who ultimately recommended him for the NOSLINA AWARD he received in 2008. This was one of the reasons the NOSLINA Award meant so much to him.
  • The Publisher also thanked President Ernest Bai Koroma for recognizing his ability to serve his nation . He also thanked diplomats like Ambassadors Shekou Touray, Bockarie Stevens , Rupert Davies, Ibrahim Conteh ,  Osman Kamara etc. who also motivate him from time to time to give off his best in his assignment as diplomat.
  • He has already praised those working with him while receiving his award at the banquet.
  • The Publisher of NEWSTIME AFRICA , Mr. Ahmed Kamara , who has  been a valuable help , was also highly commended.

THE AWARD WON BY KABS KANU FOR THE 50TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

The Publisher stated that all of these people and some he may have inadvertently failed to mention–and will name in another article when his omission is manifest  and to whom he expresses apologies — one way or the other motivated him either by words of praise, recognition or deeds of support and his conscience will not be clear if he did not mention how they contributed to his success , however minute. “Nobody achieves anything in this world without help fron others .I have praised all these people and given them the credit they deserve for helping to shape my professional growth which made  win such a very important  award to show you that I appreciate every little thing people do for me in life.   If anybody ever accuses me of ungratefulness , tell them that it is a lie ” , the Publisher affirmed .

He then thanked his family for honoring him and prayed God’s continued blessings and protection on them.

© 2011, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

When best of friends meet: First ladies exemplify solid relationship between Sierra Leone and Nigeria

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Published by Cocorioko News – By Kabs-Kanu:
 There was a memorable  moment of outpouring of pure and effusive love at the UN Conference Room 2 on Wednesday when two great friends –The first Lady of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma and the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs.Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan –met during the side meeting of the High-level HIV/AIDS Summit  presently going on in New York.
The First Ladies of the World were meeting in a segment dubbed : “First Spouses For The Elimination of New HIV Infections in Children.”Madams Koroma and Jonathan are very best of friends, a relationship struck during the many meetings so far between the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Nigeria – Dr.Ernest Bai Koroma and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who also enjoy an excellent relationship that reflects the age-old  fraternal ties  between the two West African nations. Therefore, when the two ladies met at the hall on Wednesday, it was a scene worth recapturing. They hugged,embraced, shook hands with much enthusiasm and whispered the fine sentiments of the sister relationships between the two nations in each other’s ears. Members of their entourage, including delegations representing the two countries at the HIV/AIDS Summit and ofcourse many of the delegates from other countries could only stand there rapt in admiration.
Madam Koroma, a woman loved far and wide, also spent a generous time shaking hands with and speaking with other first ladies at the meeting. The meeting had a delayed opening as organizers gave the first ladies chance to fraternize with each other.It was such a dramatic scene and we bring you photos of the emotional meeting between the first ladies of two African nations with very strong cultural and kinship ties, despite the distance between them.During their meeting which followed, the First Lady of Gabon , Mrs. Bongo , on behalf of her colleagues , in the closing remarks , said that the First Ladies  resolved:

  • To eliminate by 2015, mother to child HIV infection
  • To Allocate substantial funds to facilitate this ambitious endeavor
  • To provide better access to support and care for children infected by their mothers and the mothers
  • To help provide better access to family planning
  • To strengthen sexual health for adolescents
  • To participate more in childcare and called for the community to act as partners

Mrs. Koroma (Left) and Mrs. Jonathan 

PRESIDENT KOROMA AND GOODLUCK JONATHAN

THE HUSBANDS : PRESIDENTS KOROMA ( RIGHT ) AND GOODLUCK JONATHAN 

Sierra Leone Mission holds mini-press Conference on UN High-Level HIV/AIDS Meeting

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
By KABS KANU:
  The Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations yesterday held a mini-press conference on the UN High-Level HIV/AIDS Meeting which starts today at the General Assembly. Present at the press conference, which was organized by the Department of News and Public Affairs of the Mission, were the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura; Dr. Brima Kargbo, the National Coordinator of the HIV/AIDS Program in Sierra Leone; Mr. Idrissa Songo, the National Coordinator of the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone; Mrs. Valerie Tucker, the Civil Society representative from the National HIV Advocacy Network; Madam Marie Marilyn Jalloh, MP for Constituency 35, Bombali, who is Chair of the HIV/AIDS Committee in Parliament; the Focal point, Mrs.Victoria Sulimani and Minister Plenipotentiary, who is also in charge of News and Public Affairs.The Focal Point, Mrs. Victoria Sulimani, presented a briefing on arrangements so far made for the delegation from Freetown and the Mission representing Sierra Leone at the three-day Conference which will also be attended by many Heads of State of some countries.

The Minister of Health, Madam Zainab Bangura, gave a detailed presentation on the purposes of the meeting. She said that the meeting is a ten-year review of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.  It must be recalled that in 2001, the UN had its first ever special session on HIV/AIDS during which it adopted the Declaration of Commitment. In 2006, the UN had another special session during which the Political Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS was also adopted. She disclosed that the meeting is a strategic one during which countries will be talking about their experiences with HIV/AIDS, programs set up to combat the disease, their commitments, challenges, progress, the levels they have reached and their achievements since the disease was first diagnosed 30 years ago.
Minister Bangura said that the conference will be very important for Sierra Leone because last year she won one of the 2010 Millenium Development Goals (MDG) AWARDS for taking very significant step in efforts to fulfill one of the MDGS:  Goal No.6 –Combatting HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES.

Q:  WHAT IS THE STORY OF HIV/AIDS IN SIERRA LEONE?
Dr. Brima Kargbo, the National Coordinator, responded that it is a low-level epidemic. “We have stabilized it at 1.5% and the number of people being treated is 6,000. 61% of people eligible are receiving free treatment and 84% of these survive after one year of treatment.”

Q. HOW DOES A PATIENT BECOME ELIGIBLE?
Dr. Kargbo replied that a patient becomes eligible after he/she is diagnosed and qualifies for treatment.

Q. IS SIERRA LEONE RECEIVING ANY SUPPORT IN HER EFFORTS TO COMBAT HIV/AIDS?
Dr. Kargbo responded in the affirmative. He named those providing support, apart from the national government, as: The Global Fund; UN Partners- UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, the German Development Bank -who are the main sponsors of the HIV/AIDS Program.

Q. WHAT KIND OF ASSISTANCE ARE THEY PROVIDING?
According to Dr.Kargbo, they are providing technical and financial assistance (To ensure Support, care and treatment ).

Q. WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO STABILIZE HIV/AIDS IN SIERRA LEONE:
Dr. Kargbo responded: “Sierra Leone adopted a multi-sectoral approach by bringing all sectors together to combat the disease -Civil society, government, the Business coalition etc.”  Mrs. Marie Jalloh said: “There is a committee in Parliament on HIV/AIDS. We have a very strong civil society network. We have also reviewed the HIV Law dealing with discrimination, stigmatization and decriminalization of pregnant women and girls. The review process is on and this will be passed into law. There is also a review from a National Aids Secretariat to a National Aids Commission.”

Q. FOR THE PROGRAM TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL, YOU MUST HAVE CREATED AWARENESS ABOUT THE DEADLINESS OF THE DISEASE AMONG THE POPULATION.HOW DID YOU DO IT?
Dr. Kargbo said that the awareness was created through radio, TV and newspapers. “We engaged in a lot of awareness-raising activities.”

Q. YOU SAID YOU HAVE KEPT NEW INFECTIONS AT VERY LOW LEVELS . HOW DID YOU ACCOMPLISH THAT?
Dr. Kargbo: “First of all, through the distribution of condoms; then peer education among the youth; screening of 100% of blood being transfused which helped significantly to reduce new infections and led to stabilization. We also tried to break the myth around it and gave it a human face -No shame or guilt.”

WE WILL BRING YOU FULL REPORTS OF THE CONFERENCE


From Left:  Minister Bangura, Mr. Songo, Dr. Kargbo, and MP Marie Jalloh


Minister Zainab Bangura and Mrs. Tucker at the Press Conference


The Focal Point, Mrs. Sulimani

Sierra Leone’s First Lady and Health Minister in New York for High-level HIV/AIDS Meeting

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

 

 By KABS KANU :

The First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madam Sia Nyama Koroma , Health and Sanitation Minister Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura and a high-powered delegation have arrived in New York to attend the United Nations High-Level HIV/AIDS Meeting, which starts at the General Assembly tomorrow. The meeting ,which will also be attended by heads of state of many countries is a ten-year review of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.  It must be recalled that in 2001, the UN had its first ever special session on HIV/AIDS during which it adopted the Declaration of Commitment. In 2006, the UN had another special session during which the Political Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS was also adopted .

The Minister of Health is accompanied by a delegation comprised of  :

  • Dr. Brima Kargbo , the National Coordinator of the  HIV/AIDS Program in Sierra Leone
  • Mr. Idrissa Songo, the National Coordinator of the Network of HIV Positives in Sierra Leone
  • Mrs. Valerie Tucker, the Civil Society representative from the National HIV Advocacy Network
  • Madam Marie Marilyn Jalloh , MP for Constituency 35, Bombali , who is Chair of the HIV/AIDS Committee in Parliament
  • Mr. Hudson Tucker

FIRST LADY SIA NYAMA KOROMA

Other members of the Sierra Leone delegation will include the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Sheku M. Turay ; the Deputy Permanent Represntative or Legal Affairs, Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara; the Minister Plenipotentiary Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu and  Counselors Victoria Sulimani and Saidu Nallo.

Madam Sia Nyama Koroma is accompanied by her Lady-In-Waiting, Mrs. Musu Dao.

The First Lady said today she will also  attend the First Ladies Conference of the Organization of African First Ladies on HIV/AIDS .She is a member of the Steering Committee of the African First Ladies.

MADAM ZAINAB BANGURA AT THE SA.LEONE UN MISSION TODAY

Tomorrow,Wednesday June 8, there will be the Opening Plenary Meeting . Statements will be delivered by the Secretary General of the UN, Mr.Ban Ki-Moon  and the President of the General Assembly Mr. Joseph Deiss and the Executive Director of UNAIDS , Mr. Michael Sidibe , some heads of state and representatives of other countries.

The meeting ends on Friday at which time countries and organizations are expected to make fresh commitments on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Another landmark day , as Kabs Kanu receives another Journalism Award

Monday, June 6th, 2011
 By Solomon Sesay :

For diligently keeping his nation’s almost one  million citizens in the diaspora informed about news back home through  COCORIOKO,   Sierra Leone’s biggest and most widely read newspaper , the paper’s publisher , Mr. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, was last night honored  with a prestigious award by the country’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations Organizing Committee in the United States. In a jampacked and exciting Jubilee Celebrations Banquet and Awards Night held at the Martin Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland, the Rev. Kabs-Kanu received the 50th Anniversary Leadership Award for excellent journalism .

According to a citation imprinted inside the trophy, Mr. Kabs-Kanu was given the award because of his leading role in keeping the Sierra Leone Community in the United States and the world informed about events in Sierra Leone through the Cocorioko Newspaper.It is his fourth Journalism award in a thriving profession for him that spanned over 40 years starting from his secondary schooldays at Christ The Kings’ College , Bo, Sierra Leone. One of the awards was from the umbrella Sierra Leone organization –The National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America  in 2008 -which is the equivalence of the American Oscars.

THE JOURNALISM AWARD FROM THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE IN THE U.S WON BY  QUADRUPLE AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST , KABS KANU LAST NIGHT


KABS KANU HOLDS HIS   50TH ANNIVERSARY JOURNALISM AWARD PROUDLY

Mr. Kabs-Kanu , in receiving the award, invited the Editor-In-Chief Jacob Sax-Conteh to join him on the stage and in thanking the Sierra Leone Embassy to the U.S , the Jubilee Committee and those who nominated him, Mr.Kabs-Kanu said the thrust of Cocorioko is to project Sierra Leone  in a positive light in an effort to rebrand the country and help bring in investment, commerce and tourism. He told his attentive audience that COCORIOKO does not publish negative news about Sierra Leone because the country’s image has been hurt since Independence in 1961 by negative reporting which he said had the tendency to scare away investors and tourists and give the country a poor credit rating with international donor agencies.

KABS KANU AND JACOB SAX-CONTEH ON THE STAGE

Mr.Kabs-Kanu then said that he wanted to share the award with hard-working members of Cocorioko , without whose efforts, he said, the newspaper would not have reached this height that makes it possible for it to keep winning awards.He named the members as Dr. Wilfred Bankole-Gibson, Ms. Rosetta Zizer, messrs Pavi Jalloh , Joseph Kamanda, Solomon Sesay, Muckson Sesay, Alex Mansaray, Muckson Sesay and Rev. Kemoh Sulimani jr. Ahmed M.Kamara, who  designed and hosts the sight was also mentioned.  He also thanked members who are no longer with the newspaper like  Mr.Foday Mansaray. He promised that he  and team would continue working hard to continue to justify the confidence reposed in him. He also promised the audience that Cocorioko will be going into print soon.

Cocorioko was founded in 1973 by Kabs-Kanu while he was a student at Fourah Bay College. He revived the newspaper in the U.S

KABS KANU HOLDING THE TROPHY

KABS KANU,  HOLDING THE COVETED PRIZE , POSES WITH THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT AND ADVISER TO PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA, MR. SHEKA KAMARA


KABS KANU LETS  WASHINGTON DC APC PRESIDENT YABOME THASSLIM SESAY KOROMA AND ABDUL BERO KAMARA  POSE WITH THE COCORIOKO AWARD

PUBLISHER KABS-KANU AND SENIOR EDITOR ABDUL BERO KAMARA HOLDING THE AWARD

© 2011, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

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The APC is a wonderful family : Letter of thanks to Abie Bangali-Mansaray

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The All People’s Congress ( APC ) is a wonderful family. Last weekend, our delegation travelled to Maryland to take part in the 50th Anniversary Banquet and Awards Program. The delegation consisted of the APC New Jersey Chapter President  , Mr. Allie Badara Kamara  ; APC  Rapid Response Team Chairman, Mr.Aziz Mohamed Nabe and your humble servant.  The trip was wonderful in many ways because I received an award for excellent journalism. However, it was wonderful for another reason : The impeccable hospitality accorded us by the Queen of the APC, Madam Abie Bangali-Mansaray. Justice will not be done if one celebrates the occasion without extending thanks and appreciation to Madam Bangali-Mansaray and her little, cute daughter, Yalaia , who accomodated us in their cozy and hospitable home. It was one of the best examples of hospitality I have ever experienced.

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PHOTO ;  Aziz Nabe being fondly hugged by the Queen’s little daughter,  Yalaia

We want to thank the Queen for the delicious meals she provided —The first-of -its kind Tola soup , the potato leaves and sawa sawa and of course the smashing breakfast in the morning. God wants man to be grateful for the good deeds of others and it is in this light that I am writing this thank-you letter to Madam Abi Bangali-Mansaray. The APC is a wonderful family and Queen Abi Bangali-Mansaray exemplifies the family. She is known for being a hostess par excellence to visitors who go to Maryland to attend functions. Her home is always open to visitors .May God bless her.

Grand Jubilee Banquet and Awards Program ends with a flourish

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

By KABS KANU :

Indeed, all roads led to the Martin Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland on Saturday May 28 where the   first part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in the United States ended with a flourish with a well-attended and regal Banquet and Awards Program organized by the Sierra Leone Embassy to the U.S. and the Jubilee Celebrations Organizing Committee. About 20 individuals and organizations received awards for their magnificent contribution to the society.

The occasion was attended by a galaxy of distinguished personalities and Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone from all walks of life. There was also a show of political tolerance as the All People’s Congress ( APC), the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) were fully represented.

The colorful and prestigious program  commenced with words of appreciation and introduction of the MCs–Mr. Kwame Clement of Liberia and Ms. Linord Moudou by the Chairman of the 50th Independence Planning Committee, Mr.David B. Vandy. This was followed by the opening prayers by the Rev. Gloria Cline-Smythe and Sheik Alusine Kamara. Then the national anthems of Sierra Leone and the U.S. were sung by the young award-winning standout, Janet B. Lagah-Bona.

The night was punctuated by dazzling musical shows by leading artists .There were thrilling performances from Freddy Shabaka Cole , Manzu and little Janet Laga-Bona. Three  performances  shook the hall . Female gospel singing sensation , Mrs.Giileh Kebbie Sholz rocked the hall with the lead song in her recently released album, Jesus is the way. The bold and confident beauty demonstrated a lot of growth, experience and poise in the many months since she was outdoored in an Arc of Hope Fundraiser in Washington DC last November. Gilleh is a multi-talented young woman who will also be playing the lead role of Madam Yoko in the reproduction of the late John Kolossa Kargbo’s LET ME DIE ALONE on Friday June 3 at Montgomery College in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Handicapped Singer Jay Arr, an extraordinarily talented youth , showed that there is no barrier in this world for a person who wants to succeed , irrespective of handicap , with a stunning performance  that brought the hall to its feet in response to his invitation to everybody to stand and dance to his sizzling record about a woman who belongs to him. Then came the Cameroonian group , Josephine Attanga and the Lista Dancers who also sent the hall wild with fascination.

USLO Members with their award. Holding the prize are Rugi Bahr (Left ) and Zainabu Sesay-Harrel. The only male in the photo is the President of the organization ,Mr. Ahmed Kargbo.

AMBASSADOR BOCKARIE STEVENS ( IN WHITE GOWN) AND PRESIDENT KOROMA’S SPECIAL ASSISTANT, MR.SHEKA KAMARA STANDING ON HIS LEFT. FAR RIGHT AMBASSADOR CONTEH AND ON THE RIGHT OF AMBASSADOR STEVENS IS KWAME CLEMENT

The main feature of the night was the presentation of the Jubilee awards to recepients by Ambassador Bockarie Stevens , Mrs. Rasie Kargbo, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations , Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the African Union, Mr. Andrew Bangali , the Deputy Ambassador to USA, Mr. I.M.Conteh and Parliamentarian Mr.Ibrahim Bundu.

NAMISAH KAMARA, KOMODO SHEKU AND FODAY SESAY OF THE SLPP AT THE HIGH TABLE

After the awards , it was time for dance, dance and dance . The hall exploded with the foot-thomping music of the latest breed of Sierra Leone's musicians whose work is far more preferred these days in Sierra Leone occasions than western music , a reversal of what obtained in the past.

It was a memorable event that will be talked about for decades to come and it fittingly climaxed this segment of the jubilee celebrations until November when the Embassy is planning a bus excursion to South Carolina to visit the Gullah people , farmers who were brought to the South by the Atlantic Slave Trade and have traced their origins to Sierra Leone.

Awardees were :

Mr. Donald K. Stephens, President and Founder, Mercy Ships – Sierra Leone@50 Diamond Award for humanitarian endeavors: In recognition of his contribution to the development of Sierra Leone, particularly in the area of health.

U.S citizen and former peace corps, Dr. Susan Shepler , rocked the hall by speaking in perfect Krio when she went for her award. She was a peace corps at Gbendembu  in Bombali District . She poses here with a son of Gbendembu , Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Publisher of COCORIOKO

The Friends of Sierra Leone (FOSL) – Sierra Leone @ 50 Humanitarian Award: In recognition of Friends of Sierra Leone’s instrumental role in rendering humanitarian and development assistance particularly in the provision of artificial limbs and other medical care for amputees who came to the United States at the height of the war as well as funding agricultural and education projects in Sierra Leone over the years.

Ms. Janet Baindu Lagah-Bona (Left ) displays her award

HEAD OF CHANCERY SHEKU MISALI , ONE OF THE ORGANIZERS OF THE CELEBRATIONS, WITH HIS WIFE


SENSATIONAL GOSPEL SINGER GIILEH KEBBIE SHOLZ WHO ROCKED THE HALL

STAFF OF THE SIERRA LEONE EMBASSY AT THEIR ASSIGNED TABLE: SOME OF THEM WERE GIVEN SPECIAL AWARDS FOR LONG AND DEDICATED SERVICE : SEE STORY LATER


A SECTION OF THE GUESTS AT THE PROGRAM


ANOTHER PHOTO OF THE GUESTS

Friends of Sierra Leone is also known for its advocacy role on behalf of Sierra Leone to United States policy makers, particularly towards obtaining the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over ten thousand Sierra Leoneans that came to the United States of America as refugees during the rebel war and not least, the eventual return of the Peace Corps volunteers.

Mrs. Bernadette B. Kamara-Bangura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sierra Leone Relief Development Outreach (SLRDO) – Sierra Leone@50 Humanitarian Award: In recognition of her dedicated commitment to meeting the needs of Sierra Leoneans back home particularly in the area of health care service.

Rev. Leeroy W. Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations New York – Sierra Leone@50 Diaspora Leadership Award: For his leading role in keeping the Sierra Leone community in North America and other parts of the world informed about day-to-day events in Sierra Leone through the electronic media, particularly through his online newspaper “Cocorioko”.

Mr. Richard Schroeder, President and Chief Executive Officer, First Step Economic Opportunity Zone Inc – Sierra Leone@50 Economic Development Award: His organization, First Step Economic Opportunity, has established a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sierra Leone which will attract labor-intensive globally competitive enterprises to the country.

Mr. Madieu Williams, Founder, Madieu Williams Foundation – Sierra Leone@50 Award for sports: In recognition of the role his sportsmanship has played in projecting a positive image of Sierra Leone in the United States of America.

Mr. Idris Elba – Sierra Leone@50 Entertainment Award: In recognition of his role in the field of entertainment.

DAVID VANDY AND TWO WOMEN

Mr. David B. Vandy and the Sierra Theatre Production – Sierra Leone@50 Culture Award: In recognition of his efforts in keeping alive the culture of Sierra Leone through performing arts that portray Sierra Leone culture.

Professor Richmond Stanley Garrick, Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ – Sierra Leone@50 Culture Award: For his role in promoting the culture of Sierra Leone in the United States of America through his artistic work, particularly in the area of Fine Art.

Sierra Leone Council of Representative (SALCORE) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: In recognition of its role in coordinating the activities of Sierra Leone community organizations.

Sierra Leone Clubs of Columbus, Ohio (SLOCO) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For coordinating the efforts of Sierra Leoneans in Ohio State, particularly in the Columbus metropolis.

Union of Sierra Leone Organizations in New York (USLO) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For coordinating the activities of Sierra Leone Community organizations in New York State.

Mrs. Patricia Omo Thorpe- Finney and the Save Sierra Leone Foundation – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For her hard work in the Sierra Leone community and beyond. Due to her strong commitment in empowering community groups and individuals, her organization, the Save Sierra Leone Foundation, has participated in fund raising activities of Sierra Leone community groups in the United States of America

Sierra Leone Community Association (SLCA) Ottawa, Canada – Sierra Leone@50 Education Award: For contributing to the development of Sierra Leone, particularly in the educational sector. Since its establishment in May 2007, the Sierra Leone Community Association (SLCA) has been very supportive to some elementary school pupils in Sierra Leone.

Rev. Canon Julius Grey-Coker, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church , Maryland -Sierra Leone @50 Long Term Achievement Award: In recognition of his service to Sierra Leone as journalist, broadcaster and TV newscaster in the early days of Independence and his outstanding services to the Sierra Leone Community in the United States of America, particularly in the field of religion.

Ms. Janet Baindu Lagah-Bona, Founder, Children Empowerment Foundation – Sierra Leone @50 Leaders of Tomorrow Award: For her selfless service to the Sierra Leone community and beyond. Through her organization “The Children Empowerment Foundation”, she has donated school materials and toys to other children in her community. Through her initiative and instrumentality, she got a proclamation from President Obama which declared November 20 as National Child’s Day in America.

Dr. Susan Shepler, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University- Certificate of Recognition: For her active support to the Sierra Leone community in the Washington, D.C. metropolis particularly in facilitating the hosting of Sierra Leone country events at the American University.

The Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the 50th Independence Anniversary Steering Committee extend hearty congratulations to all Awardees.

© 2011, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

Another historic day, as Kabs Kanu collects 50th Anniversary Journalism Award

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

By Solomon Sesay :

For diligently keeping his nation’s almost one  million citizens in the diaspora informed about news back home through  COCORIOKO,   Sierra Leone’s biggest and most widely read newspaper , the paper’s publisher , Mr. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, was last night honored  with a prestigious award by the country’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations Organizing Committee in the United States. In a jampacked and exciting Jubilee Celebrations Banquet and Awards Night held at the Martin Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland, the Rev. Kabs-Kanu received the 50th Anniversary Leadership Award for excellent journalism .

According to a citation imprinted inside the trophy, Mr. Kabs-Kanu was given the award because of his leading role in keeping the Sierra Leone Community in the United States and the world informed about events in Sierra Leone through the Cocorioko Newspaper.It is his fourth Journalism award in a thriving profession for him that spanned over 40 years starting from his secondary schooldays at Christ The Kings’ College , Bo, Sierra Leone. One of the awards was from the umbrella Sierra Leone organization –The National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America  in 2008 -which is the equivalence of the American Oscars.

THE JOURNALISM AWARD FROM THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE IN THE U.S WON BY  QUADRUPLE AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST , KABS KANU LAST NIGHT


KABS KANU HOLDS HIS   50TH ANNIVERSARY JOURNALISM AWARD PROUDLY

Mr. Kabs-Kanu , in receiving the award, invited the Editor-In-Chief Jacob Sax-Conteh to join him on the stage and in thanking the Sierra Leone Embassy to the U.S , the Jubilee Committee and those who nominated him, Mr.Kabs-Kanu said the thrust of Cocorioko is to project Sierra Leone  in a positive light in an effort to rebrand the country and help bring in investment, commerce and tourism. He told his attentive audience that COCORIOKO does not publish negative news about Sierra Leone because the country’s image has been hurt since Independence in 1961 by negative reporting which he said had the tendency to scare away investors and tourists and give the country a poor credit rating with international donor agencies.

KABS KANU AND JACOB SAX-CONTEH ON THE STAGE

Mr.Kabs-Kanu then said that he wanted to share the award with hard-working members of Cocorioko , without whose efforts, he said, the newspaper would not have reached this height that makes it possible for it to keep winning awards.He named the members as Dr. Wilfred Bankole-Gibson, Ms. Rosetta Zizer, messrs Pavi Jalloh , Joseph Kamanda, Solomon Sesay, Muckson Sesay, Alex Mansaray, Muckson Sesay and Rev. Kemoh Sulimani jr. Ahmed M.Kamara, who  designed and hosts the sight was also mentioned.  He also thanked members who are no longer with the newspaper like  Mr.Foday Mansaray. He promised that he  and team would continue working hard to continue to justify the confidence reposed in him. He also promised the audience that Cocorioko will be going into print soon.

Cocorioko was founded in 1973 by Kabs-Kanu while he was a student at Fourah Bay College. He revived the newspaper in the U.S

KABS KANU HOLDING THE TROPHY

KABS KANU,  HOLDING THE COVETED PRIZE , POSES WITH THE PERSONAL ASSISTANT AND ADVISER TO PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA, MR. SHEKA KAMARA


KABS KANU LETS  WASHINGTON DC APC PRESIDENT YABOME THASSLIM SESAY KOROMA AND ABDUL BERO KAMARA  POSE WITH THE COCORIOKO AWARD

PUBLISHER KABS-KANU AND SENIOR EDITOR ABDUL BERO KAMARA HOLDING THE AWARD