Sierra Leone means Lion Mountains. Legends say that when European explorers first arrived in Sierra Leone, they could hear thunder in the mountains and thought it was roaring lions.
In 1991 the roaring changed from thunder to rockets as civil war broke out in West Africa. The “blood diamond” war devastated Sierra Leone and killed over 50,000 of its people. The war ended in 2002 but the country is still recovering. The people still remember. The scars are very real.
Now, Sierra Leone faces another crisis.
According to the World Health Organization, this recent Ebola outbreak began in neighboring Guinea, and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 people have died in the outbreak, with Sierra Leone losing over 300 people to the deadly virus. Many more are infected. There is no cure. Two Westerners and one Spaniard have received treatment using an experimental drug and appear to be recovering; however, no one from Africa has yet to receive this treatment.
Fear, heartbreak and anger are growing. Neighboring countries are closing their borders. Quarantine and containment appear to be WHO and Government best practices.
I’ve been to Sierra Leone, twice. Recently. It is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. Yet, it is also a West African country. And, there are many ways to die in West Africa.
As I won’t be going back to Sierra Leone anytime soon, I share these pictures from my recent visits.
I offer prayers for the safety of my friends in Freetown along with prayers for the healing of the sick and the healing of the land.
With bright eyes and a knowing look, this Sierra Leonean girl lets me take her picture.