By Umaru Fofana
Tuesday 25 October 2016:
Good evening all ye Good Samaritans. We have just returned from Mile 91 to carry out a task a good many of you asked of me to do: coordinate the aftermath of the outpouring of grief after that video of Zainab Kamara - a cripple single mother of four - had gone viral and touched your hearts of gold.
We have made a quantum leap. The co-signatory will ask the bank for a statement later this week or early next - but the amount of money that has passed through my hands which I have deposited myself into the Trust Fund is almost Le 15,000,000. This is in just ONE WEEK since the Fund was established. Detail of names and how much they contributed will be published later. And the bank details will be made available at the end of this piece should you wish to contribute. For those who have indicated anonymity, they will have their names abbreviated in the interest of accountability and transparency. Those whose names will not be published should contact those they gave money to for this purpose.
If the amount raised so far is impressive, you wait until you get to the paragraph where we explain the possibility of the start of the construction of her house in a matter of weeks from now. Her self-contained, solar-powered house will have a water tank to be supplied from a bore hole, complete with a shop that will be stocked for her. And the site is just perfect for trade that will not physically challenge her.
Today, Alpha Kargbo and I were joined by Linda Jaward - on our visit. I will tell you more about Linda shortly, but suffice it to say that she and her business partner are incredible people!
Now, our friend Zainab Kamara is doing fine. She still suffers from the residue of a cold I told you about last week which is in part as a result of the poor housing and her natural condition - being a cripple who crawls to move about including to use the toilet which is a distance away. A wheelchair cannot save her from that because of the environment. But the site of her proposed new house will make all that history.
Zainab's children are doing very well - and they all send their regards and THANK YOU. Her eldest, 15-year-old Hawanatu Kamara, is remarkable. We met her in school again today, looking resplendent in her black-and-white uniform, wearing the hijab as required at her Ansarul Islamic Secondary School. A reminder that she is preparing to write her junior secondary school-leaving BECE exams.
For a girl coming from such humble parentage - father dead and mother in such a state - the one thing any girl in Zainab’s position must not lose but can hardly manage to muster in our part of the world is confidence in herself and pride in her mum. Today, she was oozing with confidence and beaming with smile when we met her. Thanks to all of you whose interest and assistance and visits have helped uplift this beauty and brain. And pride in her mum is immeasurable as I told you in my first piece.
Hawanatu’s tuition and extra lesson fees are settled for the rest of the academic year. So are the fees of her younger siblings who are in primary school. Today, one of them - Mohamed P. Kamara, 12 - met us at home when he returned from normal classes and returned to school for his extra lessons. His determination to get an education is breathtaking. His consciousness that education is the key to making his mother happy is tear-dropping. His belief that he can achieve that if the resources are made available is mind-blowing.
It is worth pointing out that funds for their schooling at this stage have not come from your contributions as those are untouched and being kept for the biggie.
While we were keeping Zainab company, the youngest of her children - Morlai - returned from school. While the father of her other three children has died, Morlai’s father is unwell and in Kailahun for treatment. Zainab seems to be in love with him a lot and appears to miss him.
In a way that shows a routine, as soon as Morlai returned from school, he took off his shoes leaning on his mother who took off his socks and dumped them inside a bucket. he would later take off his uniform and vest and give to his mother.
5-year-old Morlai later went inside the house to fetch some water for her mother to wash his clothes. You get the feeling there is probably only one set of uniform, but also salute the hard work of this woman who literally lives her entire life tending to her children. We all have reasons to love our mothers, but they have many more reasons to do so.
As she busied herself washing Morlai’s clothes, she told us of how her husband loves her. “Despite my condition he would go to great length to show me how much he loves me” she said. Her eyes were gradually getting pregnant, so we switched topic to save her from breaking down.
At this point a heavily pregnant girl was leaning by the wall. A common feature whenever we have been to visit Zainab is people in the neighbourhood nibbling around the house. But this one was different. Too young to be so heavy, I asked the girl what the matter was. “Nothing,” she replied. I called her to get closer and asked her how old she was. She just turned 16 years, she said. She was impregnated at 15 years and due to put to bed next month. Asked where the father of the unborn child was, she said he had fled the town. She would later bring her clinic card. How I wished that was her school report card.
I warned you in an earlier article that we must all help Zainab’s family for more reasons than one, including to avert the possibility of her daughter, Hawanatu, taking to commercial sex work if only to look after her mother.
As the pregnant teenager left, Zainab explained how surprised she was that the girl had come to the house. “Her parents and I have not been on speaking terms for a while now” she said. As she rinsed Morlai’s uniform she narrated: “My daughter [Hawanatu] no longer has a friend because I don't want any negative influence to scupper her education” she said, in apparent reference to getting teen-pregnant. She explained how the pregnant teenager was being of “a bad influence” to her daughter and so she had to ask her to end the friendship.
I told you before that Zainab had managed to pay for a piece of land. It turned out she was hoodwinked. Someone else has started construction work on the plot. We had also made moves to get another plot but today we discontinued that. Reason: The Paramount Chief and his sub chiefs have agreed to a more centrally located piece of land which we will now get for Zainab and her children. On Friday this week - 28 October - we will return to Mile 91 to demarcate the plot. Our plan it to draw up a plan in November and construction work will begin in December. God willing!
This is where I return to Linda. Linda called me up last week to say she wanted to meet me regarding Zainab. On Saturday she came to my office and we had a very fruitful meeting. I explained to her our plan for Zainab: feeding and clothing her and the children, the children’s education, a house for them, and funds for her to start a business to have some revolving funds. Your assistance will not last forever.
It turned out Linda has taken over care for a boy in a tragic situation. Emmanuel is a teenager who was hit by a bus around Ferry Junction a couple of months - or so - ago. Photos of a boy in a school uniform holding his bare bone leg went viral. He would later be amputated. Linda traced the boy’s family and has adopted him in all but name. She has touched so many lives. She and I later visited the boy at his Cardew Street residence in the east of Freetown.
Now Linda and her business partner, Moses Melvin Kellie have agreed to fund the house construction - all by themselves. We are drawing up estimates and they want us to start in December - all things being equal.
Zainab's children were full of THANK YOU. They wish to thank all those who have sent them a gift - in cash or in kind. But we still need your assistance. I have been heartened by those who have contributed so far, but I am unimpressed that all the calls by many of our compatriots in Europe and America for a Trust Fund to be set up to help have not been translated into action. A few of them have, but more people at home than abroad have heeded the call so far. Please do help by paying into the account detailed below. Some of you living abroad have complained of bank charges and you have preferred to Western Union or MoneyGram me your contributions something that has had a toll on my time since it cannot be collected by proxy. I don't mind continuing to do so but please notify me before sending so I can give you a name to send it to. Those who have sent me their assistance have had the bank slip scanned and sent to them as proof of payment into the Trust Fund. That will continue.
Finally back to Zainab’s youngest child. When Morlai returned from school today he expected that his KOL RES was still available. He opened the pot and there was nothing - the sister had eaten it. The boy helped himself with Gari and palm oil. It tells you how Zainab and her children need help. God bless you for your heart. Please help in any way you can.
Please find below the bank details plus foreign funds transfer routing details:
Account Name: Zainab Kamara Trust Fund
Account No.: 210-049-956-01
Union Trust Bank
Freetown, Sierra Leone
If you are contributing from abroad:
Account No.: 210-049-956-01
Swift Code: UTBSSLFR
Intermediary Bank: Ghana International
1 st Floor, 10 Old Broad Street
London EC2 N1DW
Swift Code: GHIBGB2L
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