Internet offers help to homeless Sierra Leone athlete whose family died of Ebola

A top athlete from Sierra Leone who came to the UK for the Commonwealth Games last summer and ended up staying on after his family died from Ebola is facing deportation, but the Internet is rushing to his help.

Jimmy Thoronka ended up homeless and overstaying his visa as the games ended, unable to return to Sierra Leone as the disease, which had killed his adopted mother and siblings, spread across the country.

After months of living rough and surviving on little food he was finally  arrested last Friday  and told he’d be “processed by immigration”, but people have emerged from several corners of the internet with offers of help.

Sierra Leone’s flagbearer James Fayia leads the delegation during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.

Thoronka’s story begins last summer. Sierrra Leone’s top 100 metre sprinter arrived in Glasgow burning with ambition to bring home some medals. For him, the Commonwealth Games  was  “the big one.”

However, back home the Ebola outbreak was accelerating, and during his trip he heard that his adoptive uncle had died. While he competed in the 100m x 100m relay, the news devastated Thoronka and derailed the competition.

He  says  that there were no flights to Sierra Leone after the tournament and his team mates scattered. Thanks to this, and a stolen passport, he overstayed his visa when it expired last September, and after a brief stay at a friend’s house he ended up living rough on the streets in London, afraid to contact the Home Office.

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