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Sierra Leone mudslides sweep away school

Sierra Leone mudslides sweep away school

Sierra Leone

Days after Sierra Leone was hit by tragic mudslides and floods, it is a large scar of rubble that now defines a neighborhood located below a hill, in the capital.

Ann-Marie Caulker, the director of a school on the heights of Freetown, cannot help but cry over her fifty students who went missing in the terrible floods on the nights of August 13 to 14.

“All of these rocks were not there, they came with mud, there were houses everywhere before, so many people died”, she said.

Two of her 16 teachers are among the dead and two are missing. And many survivors of this small community “always sleep outside,” she says, while the rainy season is far from over. The summer courses had to be interrupted.

All of these rocks were not there, they came with mud, there were houses everywhere before, so many people died.

“We had a lot of chairs and benches, they stole everything in the aftermath of the disaster, there are people who loot and steal”, adds Ann-Marie Caulker.

For school teachers like Felix Mansaray who have lost at least six pupils, they have lost heart.

“We are discouraged, we educate children so that they have a better future and then they die”.

Every Sunday, the school organizes a mass for people in the community, this is an opportunity to talk about their traumas and support each other.

“The pastor told us to be patient, to love one another, that hope had not disappeared, at least some of us are still alive, there is hope”, concludes the director.

Royal Kings International School was founded about ten years ago to accommodate disadvantaged children in the neighborhood.

To find solace, the inhabitants turn to the priest of the local parish, who had to organize his office in the premises of the school.

Floods and landslides caused 499 deaths, including 156 children, according to a still provisional balance sheet established on Sunday.

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