Dear Friends and Colleagues
It is that time of the year when we wind down from our busy work and travel schedules and prepare to join our friends and families to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. It is also that time when we reflect on the happenings and lessons of the past year, and think about its challenges and opportunities, and prepare to welcome another year. 2014 will forever be memorable in the hearts and minds of the people of West Africa, for reasons that we know only too well.
For EFA, it has been a year of mixed blessings. We made very good progress completing a number of multi-year projects, such as the construction of Biodiversity and Renewable Energy Learning Centre, formally opened in June. It is also the first time since 2001, when we started work with the people of Tiwai Island, that there will be no visitors to the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. All tourism activities on the Island were suspended in July, following the declaration of a national medical emergency by the President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, resulting from the spread of the Ebola virus disease. Since then, the most pressing issue for EFA and its many friends around the world has been how to respond to the immediate needs of EVD-affected, quarantined communities.
Thanks to the generous contributions of time and money by many from across the globe, EFA was able to demonstrate to our staff on-the-ground and the nearly four thousand people around the Tiwai Island, that we care about their welfare. We are profoundly grateful for your continued support, which has given us much needed inspiration and courage during very trying times in West Africa where thousands have died, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The livelihoods, economies and local traditions of the people of these countries have been adversely impacted in so many ways. We convey our deepest sympathies to all those who have lost, and continue to lose family members to the disease. We sincerely hope that the efforts of the affected countries’ governments and their international partners will ensure the Ebola virus is brought under control in the very near future. We stand ready to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so, using EFA’s existing and future projects and resources to rebuild the livelihoods and protect the natural resources of communities affected by the disease. We shall keep you all informed.
For now, we wish you all good health and very safe and travels during this holiday period.
Peace and Blessings to you all.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From Tommy Garnett and the EFA Family