How do you keep the Coronavirus out? If you’re a country, you shut down flights and land borders and isolate yourself. If you’re a rural Sierra Leone chiefdom, you set up border checkpoints to keep all nonresidents out, too, and staff them 24/7 with your own local volunteers.
Bumpeh Chiefdom learned from the Ebola epidemic that people will try to cross their remote chiefdom borders undetected, bringing the Ebola virus with them. They are fleeing infected cities for a rural place they think safer. It’s also a place for people from Guinea to try to illegally enter the country “through a back door” – bypassing Freetown and Waterloo by boat and making their way up the Bumpeh River from the ocean.
Once the virus gains entry, we know how it spirals out of control. Keeping it out in the first place is the name of the game. Checkpoints saved Bumpeh Chiefdom during the Ebola epidemic. It’s working now again – despite Bumpeh’s vulnerable position as a coastal chiefdom near Freetown and its suburbs.
The chiefdom was ready this time when Covid-19 was first confirmed in the country. They know the places around their borders to patrol and immediately set up checkpoints, like the one above at a river “bus stop.” Boats act as buses, carrying residents and goods up and down the Bumpeh River to Rotifunk.
How can you help Bumpeh Chiefdom keep the virus out? Join us in supplying all checkpoints with locally made face masks and handwashing stations and soap.
> $20 pays for a local tailor to make 50 cloth face masks for checkpoint volunteers.
> $25 buys three covered handwashing stations with spigots, like the one above, where all residents passing through a checkpoint are required to first wash their hands.
Sherbro Foundation is paying for small daily stipends for checkpoint volunteers to buy food and water from villagers during their 12 hour shifts away from home.
We also bought solar lights for checkpoint night shifts, sitting in these remote places in the dark.
We talk about unsung heroes in this crisis who do the jobs that protect the rest of us. In Bumpeh Chiefdom, it’s the men who sit all night keeping watch at these distant checkpoints.
By sitting in the dark all night, they’re keeping the virus out of the chiefdom – and saving lives.
In this global epidemic, none of us are safe for long unless we’re all safe. We’re all in this together.
Giving Tuesday is now – May 5th. Help equip these guys with face masks and handwashing stations so they can protect everyone else. www.sherbrofoundation.org/donate
Thank you so much!
— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director