By Osman Benk Sankoh - Sep 2019
The northern chiefdom headquarter town of Petifu in the Lokomasama Chiefdom in Sierra Leone does not have sky rise buildings defining its sky line; albeit, it is just 12 miles away from the country’s international air entry point. However, for the residents of the town which derived its name from two Temne words (Petetown and fu-new), they have a priced-touristic possession of intrinsic value and they are very proud of it.
Thanks to an Italian priest, Father Ignazio Poddighe, Petifu now hosts an earthbag bungalow; and it is attracting tourists and other visitors for several reasons. Made from rice bags, earth, grass, clay, and mud, the earthbag bungalow is an eco-friendly building that is 100 percent local and constructed by the town’s men and women. The bungalow is said to provide the perfect temperature for every season.
Alfred Adonis Young, a Manager at Love Bridges, says in addition to its eco-touristic value, visitors also get to see a display of local cultural items and traditional performances.
"About 86, 000 locals from 365 villages are beneficiaries of the general health care, ultrasound scanning, dental care, eye care, and surgery services that the clinic provides."
While the eco- friendly bungalow serves as a touristic source of comfort, proceeds derived from its use go to support the Love Bridges Health Centre in the chiefdom. The non-profit organization is engaged in the implementation of cooperation and solidarity projects in developing countries, specifically Sierra Leone. The organization was established to support the Lokomasa-ma project initiated by Father Poddighe following his visit to the town, which was severely affected by the country’s brutal civil war.
About 86, 000 locals from 365 villages are beneficiaries of the general health care, ultrasound scanning, dental care, eye care, and surgery services that the clinic provides. Mr Young mentions that malaria, hernia, appendicitis, glauco-ma, and lymphoma are among the very many health issues that the medical team treats regularly. “A maximum of 20 and a minimum of seven patients per day come to the hospi-tal for various complications,” he says.
Due to limited funding, the centre is yet to establish a mater-nity unit to take care of the needs of pregnant women outside of regular scanning services, according to the manager. However, he said, lactating mothers are taken care of.
Mr. Young revealed that they have been able to construct one large bungalow with a bathroom, but there are plans to increase the number in the coming months. He disclosed that they do not have a fixed fee per night. “Anyone can come and have a wonderful time, and afterward, donate whatever sum to help our health centre. We use the proceeds to help meet some of our running costs, including buying drugs, paying the workers, and buying fuel.”