West African Nations - 2012

S IERRA L EONE

This former British colony, named for the shape of its coastal mountains, has to be one of the saddest places in the world today. Just consider this statistic: this smaller than South Carolina country with a population of 5,500,00 is home to 21% of the world’s total number of amputees! Try to get your mind around that astounding figure! How could this be true? You can blame it on the horrific civil war the people endured from 1991 to 2002. Drug addled soldiers on all sides of the conflict would use machetes and axes to punish people, including children, perceived to be on the wrong side of the war. They would chop off arms just below the elbows, legs both above and below the knee: sometimes just one limb, sometimes 2 or more! Blood loss after such traumatic injury must have been massive; how did anyone survive? It boggles the mind to try to understand such barbarousness to your own countrymen and children at that. In addition to that almost indigestible fact, during the war when little or no medical care was available, many young people were struck with poliomyelitis in its crippling manifestation. So there are many young men and women in the streets of Freetown, the Capital, who are severely handicapped due their bouts with this terrible scourge. Interspersed among these disease handicapped people are the amputees who also suffer from varying degrees of mobility challenges and other problems!

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