17 September, 2007

Facing eviction

More than 70 orphans in Sierra Leone, currently in the care of Dubai-based charity All As One, could be made homeless by Christmas because of rocketing rent prices in the region.

The non-profit organisation, which runs an orphanage, school and medical facility for the region's abandoned and most vulnerable children, is desperately trying to raise dhs100,000 to relocate its facility after being told by their landlord they must be out by December 15.

As the charity's 11 volunteers battle against water problems and the risk of infectious water-borne diseases caused by recent flooding across the continent, Dubai-based volunteer Kelly Barker told 7DAYS the team now face a race against time to secure money for a new location before their contract ends.

She said: “Following the end of the 11 year civil war, landlords have begun raising rent costs like crazy across Sierra Leone and as a result our lease has been terminated. Our landlord is upping our rent from $11,000 to $20,000 and says he's already found a new tenant.

“We've been told we have to be out by December 15 and are now frantically trying to raise the money needed to relocate. But it's not easy. We have to show we have the money up front before a realtor will even consider us. We'd like to eventually have a centre built but financially that's not possible right now.”

Kelly hopes Dubai-based companies interested in developing corporate social responsibility programmes will come forward to sponsor All As One and help the children out. She also appealed, on behalf of the organisation, for 7DAY readers' help in raising funds and buying nappies for the scores of babies they currently have under their care.

Explaining the need for the 'Diaper Drive', Kelly said: “Because of the flooding the water in the area has become contaminated so we have no clean water supply.

“People, including our staff, are having to travel miles and miles to bring clean water to the children. We have a lot of babies, including twins who recently came to us after their mother died during childbirth, and they all need clean diapers. We cannot wash them as we would usually do because the water is contaminated so we need disposable diapers - but they're too expensive in Sierra Leone.”

Anyone wishing to donate money can do so online, by visiting www.aaodubai.org. Nappy drops can be made to Showbiz Pizza, on the second floor of Town Center shopping mall on Jumeirah Beach Road.

By Leah Oatway

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