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Mudslides devastate Sierra Leone

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On Monday, 14 August, heavy rains caused a mountainside to partially collapse on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Floodwaters and mud swept away entire communities. As of 18 August, at least 450 people were confirmed killed, and as many as 600 more remained missing. More than 120 children died and reports speculate a similar number of children have been orphaned.

“The scale of the horror is still hidden,” said Vidal Cole, district superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene in Sierra Leone.

Initial rescuers dug through the thick, reddish mud with their bare hands, and heavy equipment was later brought in. Thousands of people lost their homes in the disaster, and many survivors lost entire families. An estimated 9,000 people have been affected by the disaster in some way.

In low-income sections of Sierra Leone, poor drainage systems make flooding worse during the rainy season. Many informal settlements are also built on top of unstable and dangerous hills. Deforestation for firewood and charcoal also contributes to increased risk of flooding and mudslides. After disasters such as this, there is an extremely high risk of disease outbreaks, including cholera and malaria.

“The situation is really terrible,” Cole said. “As a church we want to do whatever we can to minister to the survivors and those who are bereaved. The entire nation is mourning and we want to share the love and compassion of Christ with our people in any way we possibly can.”

The West African country is still recovering after a deadly Ebola virus epidemic that lasted nearly two years, ending when the country was declared Ebola-free in March 2016. Ebola took the lives of 4,000 people in Sierra Leone. In response to the outbreak, Nazarene churches provided care for children orphaned by the disease, distributed food to those in need, educated churches on hygiene practices, and ran campaigns to combat stigma associated with Ebola.

Since then, Nazarene churches in Sierra Leone have also been working to serve the most vulnerable through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects and efforts to fight malaria. Now, those churches want to respond to those affected by flooding however they can.

How to help:

Pray

Prayer is requested for those who have experienced injury or loss, as well as those working to care for their neighbors and meeting urgent needs.

Give

Churches and individuals around the world can provide support through the Africa Disaster Relief Fund. Donations will be used for immediate needs, such as water and food, as well as longterm recovery and rebuilding efforts.

To send donations by mail:

Make checks payable to “General Treasurer” and send them to:

Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116

Be sure to put 128186 in the Memo area.

In Canada, make checks payable to “Church of the Nazarene Canada” and send them to:

Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3

Be sure to put 128186 in the Memo area.

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