The Sierra Leone Association of Alberta unveils new community van – Edmonton

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The parking lot outside of the Clairview Rec Centre was filled with song, smiles and a ribbon cutting on Saturday when the Sierra Leone Association of Alberta unveiled its new community vehicle.

“It’s a big deal because we’ve never had a vehicle that would be used for the community,” resident Juliette Jackson said.

‘We are pleased and proud to have this new vehicle,” community member Pamela George added.

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Association president Abu Conteh said there was a great need to help seniors, people with mobility issues and struggling families with adequate transportation.

To help fill the void, he turned to the provincial and federal governments for help.

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“I presented the case to them that our community has a burning desire to own our own community vehicle because having this will help us to improve our participation in social and cultural activities,” Conteh said.

The request to purchase the roughly $30,000 15-seater commercial van was approved during the thick of the pandemic, but due to gathering restrictions, the association kept the van parked.

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“Now that we are unveiling the vehicle, we believe that it should alleviate the pain, it should help the people with transportation problems,” Conteh said.

The van will be used to transport community members to an array of events, youth trips and to help seniors with doctor appointments and grocery trips.

“We have a lot of seniors who cannot drive, some who cannot walk to events but they would like to be there,” community member Augustine Marah said.

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“It’s been hard because we have to take the cab or we depend on someone else to bring us,” George added.

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The van will be operated by volunteer drivers and money for gas will be donated by its members.

“I think it will bring the community together,” Jackson said of the vehicle. “I think it will also inspire other communities to see what they can do for their people as well.”

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