Friday, January 26, 2007

Film sparks plea for Sierra Leone support

As Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest Hollywood blockbuster gives cinema-goers an insight into Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, a leading aid agency is calling on people across the UK to help the real life victims of the conflict.
The Titanic star’s latest film, Blood Diamond, which opened this week, is the story of an imprisoned miner whose son is forced to become a child soldier and a South African mercenary’s quest to recover a rare pink diamond.
Today, British charity chiefs at ActionAid said that while the film may be fictional, the tragedy of child soldiers, the devastating impact of the international diamond trade and the violence and destruction of the conflict are very real.
Despite the war ending five years ago the charity said the country still bears the scars and faces a range of challenges.
Staff revealed most schools were burned down. There’s now a shortage of teachers and 70% of adults are illiterate.
The country has little adequate healthcare and in some areas there are as many as 12,000 people for each health worker. Most families do not have access to safe, clean water and many people are still living in makeshift accommodation.

However, ActionAid is now calling on people to help make a difference in Sierra Leone by sponsoring a child for less than 50p (80c) a day.
With the support of the British public the charity is working to provide more teachers, health centres, safe clean water, vaccines for children and support for former child soldiers.
Danny Mazliah, ActionAid spokesperson, said: “It’s great that Blood Diamond is tackling the issues of Sierra Leone’s child soldiers and the international diamond trade, whose profits helped fuel the violence and destruction.
“However, Sierra Leone needs long term support. Readers can make a real difference to the country’s war torn, poverty-stricken population by signing up to child sponsorship.”
Sponsorship costs £15 (€22.80) a month and 80% of the money is spent directly overseas. The remaining 20% is spent on priority activities such as responding to emergencies, campaigning on behalf of poor people, finding new sponsors and raising additional funds.
To learn more about sponsoring a child or for more information about the work of ActionAid visit the charity’s website at www.actionaid.org.uk

Source: Irish Examiner> Breaking News> Sport