Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Leaving your family behind sometimes a living nightmare

Leaving your family behind sometimes a living nightmare

Leaving your family behind sometimes a living nightmare

For over a month now, Robert Chakanda and Malcolm Jusu have been trying to find a way to get their wives and children out of Sierra Leone. For two weeks in January they lost all communication with their families in the capital Freetown, the recent hotspot in a war that has dragged on since 1991. Since the beginning of January, over 4,000 people in Freetown have lost their lives, and large parts of the city have been destroyed and burnt down, leaving some 500,000 people displaced. Chakanda: Reading the newspapers in Holland, you always come across some story about a war going on in some small country far away. But when you read it about your own country, and your family is in danger, it becomes a living nightmare.

At the beginning of February, the two were finally able to get through to Freetown by telephone. Both families were safe, but Jusu had to deal with the shock that all his possessions including his house had been burnt to the ground. As Jusu's Phd is almost complete, he hopes to move his family to neighbouring Guinea: But that is proving to be problematic as all of my wife's documents were destroyed. Not to mention that the city has military checkpoints in every neighbourhood making it very difficult to get out

Chakanda is just beginning his MSc studies in Wageningen, and would prefer to bring his family here. I have talked for hours with Tineke de Boer, Dean of International students, Student Chaplain Josine van de Horst, and my course director Kees Eveleens. They have been of immense assistance and share my grief over the situation. But the university is limited in what it can do because of the bureaucratic rules of the government. We can only help think of solutions and give advice on where they can get assistance, including finding funds, de Boer relates. Chakanda is clearly frustrated: The police do not accept faxed copies of my wife's papers, and it could take weeks before the originals get here, if they even arrive safely. Of course I don't have these documents with me, I never thought I would have to bring my family to Wageningen.

The two do not have time to wait for bureaucratic processes. They continue to search for a way to get their families out of Sierra Leone as soon as possible. It's the only way they can get through a living nightmare. Am.S

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