KRB Update #2164
Keith R. Brinkman Screening Sierra Leone March 12, 2011
Greetings from Sierra Leone. I write in follow up to my last update about our screenings here in this nation. Some of you may have already read reports on the web site and through internet new sources. We had a difficult and sad week in many regards. Below is the official statement from Don about what happened on Monday. I was there at the stadium in the early morning and then accompanied by boss to a meeting at the Ministry of Health in a nearby building. When we returned, I reported to my post at the walk-in gate to the stadium (at the top of several steps) and you could sense problems – people have used words like surge and stampede – we tried to get people inside to relieve the pressure. Some had been injured and were bloody and we directed them to our medic teams in a nearby tent who took care of them. My heart goes out to all those affected and for those people who came seeking our assistance and we were not able to provide that due to the circumstances and how we had to pull back for security and safety reasons. As a crew who participated in the screening, we have been processing what has happened and the chaplains have been available for counsel.
FROM: Don Stephens Dear Mercy Ships Staff and Crew,
A very sad incident occurred in the course of screening activities today in Freetown, Sierra Leone of which you need to be aware. Initial incident reports indicate that when screening personnel arrived at the stadium this morning there were 700 people already allowed into the stadium and a large crowd outside. Sometime after 9:30 events yet to be conclusively determined occurred to agitate the crowd and cause it to storm the gate. In response 200 more people were admitted to relieve pressure, but tragically 13 were injured, including one fatality and two life threatening situations. Mercy Ships personnel on site cared for the victims and accompanied them to hospitals. No Mercy Ships personnel was injured. Ongoing investigation will determine the facts. Please keep the individuals affected and their families in prayer, and pray also for the entire crew. This is certainly a time to pray and believe that God will work all things together for good in this tragic situation. The following is the statement was released regarding the event:
Mercy Ships is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred today during medical screening at the Freetown National Stadium when a crowd stormed the gate resulting in several injuries and one life lost. Mercy Ships personnel working at the site attended the injured and accompanied them to local hospitals.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the individuals and families of those affected by today’s events. The occurrence of this incident in the course of activities intended to restore lives is tragic. We move forward with tremendous sadness, but great determination, to assist as many people as possible in the next ten months,” stated Mercy Ships Founder, Don Stephens.
Mercy Ships exists to serve the forgotten poor and has served Sierra Leone five times over the past two decades, also helping establish two land based health care facilities. For the next ten months, Mercy Ships will be providing surgeries for qualified patients while working alongside the Sierra Leonean Government to support its five-year healthcare plan and strengthen the functions of the national health system.