Many people living with epilepsy in Sierra Leone have been excluded from school or college and thus, even when their epilepsy is being controlled by medication, find it difficult to get work. Unemployment, coupled with the medical costs associated with having a chronic disease such as epilepsy, place a great financial burden on patients and their families. It is against this background that the Epilepsy Association of Sierra Leone established a vocational skills training centre called the Lords Opportunity for Victory over Epilepsy (LOVE) Institute as part of its rehabilitation action and livelihood enhancement for people living with epilepsy in Sierra Leone.
The Centre is located at Rokupa in Wellington, Freetown and caters for 50 trainees who are acquiring basic vocational skills in tailoring, weaving and tie dyeing. EASL aims to extend the programme to include crop production and animal husbandry in its agricultural site located at Mile 6 after Waterloo. The Institute was set up in 2003.Since then the institute has been actively involved in the training of people living with epilepsy whose seizures are permanently controlled.
EASL has recently gained a grant from Comic Relief UK through Medical Assistance Sierra Leone with the aim of increasing understanding and support for people living with epilepsy in Sierra Leone in order to remove the disabling stigma of the condition. This project has caused an increase in the number of patients accessing clinical treatment as opposed to traditional methods, meaning more have to be rehabilitated and reintegrated. Among others one of the immediate challenges are the inadequate space for the institute and the need to expand and include basic skills in agriculture such as crop production and animal husbandry.
In addition, during the setting up of District Epilepsy Support committees in the provinces, it was also recommended by committee members in all districts that the activities carried out at the LOVE Institute are extended to all other regions where people living with epilepsy are supported. When this is achieved, the training activities will directly build the capacity of people with epilepsy in Sierra Leone in areas of basic vocational skills, entrepreneurship and managerial skills for profitable rural business and promote livelihood activities leading to improving the quality of their lives.