Today, a group of persons with disabilities thanked Mayor Aki-Sawyerr and Freetown City Council (FCC) for paying one year’s rent on behalf of 74 of them, after FCC had asked them to stop begging at Cotton Tree.
The decision by FCC to stop persons with disabilities from begging around the Cotton Tree was taken back in February 2019 as part of FCC’s efforts to make the city’s iconic landmark tourist-friendly, especially after the Cotton Tree was part of Ireland’s Global Greening lineup. After FCC confirmed that some of them slept in the open around the Cotton Tree, FCC decided to facilitate their relocation as a short term measure to keep them safe during the rainy season whilst they figure out the next steps.
FCC paid the rent directly to landlords at Morabi, a community in Waterloo, after the group of person’s with disabilities signed an MoU with FCC, which prevents them from going back to the Cotton Tree.
During the visit to Mayor Aki-Sawyerr, the beneficiaries were filled with gratitude as they disclosed that this is the first time they have received such kind gesture, which goes a long way in restoring their dignity. They called on non-governmental organisations to join the Mayor in her efforts to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
Responding to their comments, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr made it clear that this is a one-time gesture only to those affected by FCC’s decision on the Cotton Tree. She also disclosed that it is only a short term measure as FCC, through its Transform Freetown Agenda is still looking for funding to facilitate skills development and training for persons with disabilities who live in Freetown.
She closed by thanking all who made the relocation possible, including the Ministry of Social Welfare, NaCSA, FCC’s Social Welfare Committee and Department.