A United Methodist News Service Report
The Sierra Leone Annual (regional) Conference sustained an estimated $40,000 in damage to its conference office in a fire Feb. 15 that caused the death of a Sierra Leone National Power Authority worker. The Dakotas Conference has contributed $5,000 to help rebuild the conference center.
The fire came after a loud explosion that drove occupants from the building. The power authority worker emerged from the basement with his clothes burning. The basement houses power authority transformers.
The conference is preparing for its annual conference session March 5-10 and has been forced to work outside its office to try to finish preparations. Because the conference anticipates that it will have to pay for the work to repair the damage, a preliminary estimate put the cost to the conference at $40,000, which includes electrical supplies to be used for re-wiring the building, electrical appliances destroyed in the blast, including air-conditioners, computers and accessories, refrigerators, and labor for the re-installation. There is not yet an estimate of what it will cost for the conference to continue to do business without being able to use its office.
The cost of repairs and to replace lost contents from the fire is estimated at $40,000.
After an emergency meeting Tuesday with elders of the church, Bishop John K. Yambasu wrote to the power authority to express “heart-felt condolence to the National Power Authority and the family of Momodu Bangura,” but also to note that the conference had previously asked the power authority to move the transformers.
“As we assess the cost of damage to the building, our work as a church and work time loss and financial implications to our tenants, we are asking that the National Power Authority take immediate steps to do the re-wiring and installation of electricity supply to the building,” the bishop wrote.
“Again, we as a church, having seen the devastation the existence of the transformers can cause to our building, our work and humanity as exemplified in the fatal agony Momodu Bangura went through on Friday, we can no longer accept any rehabilitation plan that will retain the transformers at the basement of UMC House,” Yambasu wrote.
Phileas Jusu, the United Methodist communicator for Sierra Leone, wrote in an email to United Methodist News Service that “we are trying to cope with a very challenging moment as a conference. The main power service provider for the Freetown Metropolis — the Bumbuna dam — is down. Even before the fire accident at UMC House, we used to have frequent power cuts in the office. And there is hardly electricity in the part of the city where I live — once a week for 12 hours at best.”
Jusu said not having United Methodist Church House, and its equipment will increase the cost of running the annual conference.
Members of the Dakotas Conference have actively supported the Kissy Eye Clinic in Sierra Leone. The Dakotas Disaster Response Committee decided to send $5,000 from Disaster Relief funds to Sierre Leone.
“The Dakotas Conference has a long standing relationship with the Sierra Leone Conference through the Kissy Eye Clinic. Allocating $5,000 to the rebuilding of the Conference Center in Sierra Leone is a way we can continue our efforts,” stated Rev. Lee Gale, North Dakota Disaster Relief Coordinator.
Anyone wishing to help can send support to the Sierra Leone Annual Conference to Sierra Leone Undesignated Advance No. 00387A. Those wishing to donate office equipment can contact the Resident Bishop John K. Yambasu on cell phone number 23276689480.