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Ebola

 

September 2015

From the time that the Ebola Virus was first detected in Sierra Leone, the Family Homes Movement has been active both in the fight to prevent its spread and in providing assistance to families affected by the virus. Now, with just one new case identified in the past three weeks, we hope and pray that we are seeing the end of this virus and that Sierra Leone will be able to move into a period of health and well-being for our people.

This page records some of the FHM efforts in the fight against Ebola over the past year and our ongoing efforts to help those affected by the disease.

August 2014:

Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone

The Family Homes Movement is doing all it can to help Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola outbreak.

FHM staff are working with the Ministry of Health in a campaign to spread awareness of the disease and disseminate advice to people about how to avoid Ebola and what to do if they do encounter it.

The disease, which has now spread to most provinces of Sierra Leone, is the source of great fear and some people have reacted to the fear by trying to pretend that the sickness is not there. Families have hidden sick relatives and tried to treat them at home. This ignorance of the nature of the disease is a key factor in its spread.

FHM Director Ernest P Sesay and his staff from the Freetown office are travelling up country, visiting small towns and rural areas, educating people about Ebola and appropriate action to combat it.

September 2014:

The Ebola outbreak continues to spread throughout Sierra Leone and West Africa with a current (Sept 8th) death toll of some 2300, more than 500 in Sierra Leone. While we can take some comfort in the reports that the survival rates in Sierra Leone are the highest in the region, the discouraging news is that the spread of the virus does not seem to be slowing down. We hope and pray that the country lock down later this month, ordered by the President, will have the desired effect of isolating and thus allowing the control of the virus.

FHM personnel, after a period of training, are now travelling the country educating people about the disease, its prevention and what to do if someone does get infected. This campaign of mass dissemination of information can help to save lives.

FHM are distributing rice and hand-washing materials as practical help to the communities they are visiting on the sensitisation campaign.

Donations from Italian friends of the Family Homes Movement allowed FHM to hand over food and basic materials to the Ministry of Social Welfare for distribution to families suffering not only fear over the health of their loved ones but also material hardship as a result of quarantine restrictions.

Distribution of rice in preparation for the lock down.

FHM are helping the families in the local communities prepare for the September 18th lock down when everyone will be required to stay at home for 3 days. People are trying to get ready for this by stockpiling enough food for 3 - 4 days but many people lack the money to do this, especially in the face of  prices which started to rocket as soon as the announcement was made. FHM is helping their families acquire at least the essentials like rice.

November 2014

International measures to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone have increased in recent weeks with the opening of a 92 bed Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town near Freetown, the raising of £13 million by the UK Disaster Emergency Committee and the pledge of $28.5 million by African business leaders meeting in Ethiopia. Still the virus continues to spread at an accelerating rate in Freetown and other areas of Sierra Leone, with a current (Nov 5th) official death toll of 1,130 and an unknown but undoubtedly higher realistic one.

FHM personnel are engaged in a range of activities up-country to help with the ongoing sensitization exercises and to provide direct support to individuals and families most affected by the disease. FHM Director, Ernest Sesay is working mainly in Tonkolili District where Ebola has been spreading rapidly over the past month. He writes as follows:

Oct 14th

We are engaged in Tonkolili and we are hoping to open an interim care centre in Magburaka by next week. Freetown is now a hot spot as many people escape the quarantine districts and so risk bringing the virus into the city. So the number of cases in Freetown keeps on increasing. The situation is really desperate. So far Bumbuna is fine with no positive Ebola case. We are doing our best to support the task force in Bumbuna to redouble their response mechanism.

Amidst this traumatic situation there is at least a glimpse of hope! Among the cases discharged from the treatment centres, 14 were children and we are involved in mediating with their families to accept them back. We are presently doing the mediation and it is really positive.

Oct 30th

Things are still uncertain here. Liberia seems to be moving positively. We hope we will begin to see some numbers climbing down too in Sierra Leone by November.

There is too much work in Tonkolili district. We have opened an office there and an interim care centre for orphaned children who have survived the virus but needs alternative care.

Nov 5th:

The situation in Sierra Leone is still uncertain. There are positive signs in the provinces, as we are beginning to see improvements in terms of numbers. But the capital city and a few other districts are still experiencing an increase in positive cases. We are very much hopeful that the situation will be contained by the end of the month or early December. 

Abject poverty is rapidly destroying families, as many families find it difficult to raise enough money to buy a bag of rice. Our hope and prayer is that this difficult moment does not reach a saturation level where people will react in any shape or form to find food for their families.

An Ebola survivor holds the certificate which 
states that she is free of the disease.
Orphaned by Ebola, she is now being helped
by the Family Homes Movement.

The FHM is presently committed in its own way, working in the provinces where help is needed most. We have six social workers in the provinces working with quarantined homes, survivors and the different task forces in curbing the spread of the virus. We have rented a Centre with 7 rooms up country as an Interim Care Centre for orphans who have survived the virus. We are presently supporting children who have survived the virus and doing a lot of mediation to help them be reintegrated back to society.

We are doing our best and we hope the Good Lord sees us through this tragic moment.

 

August 2015:

FHM continues to work with EDUS (an NGO devoted to Education and Development, based in Trento, Italy) on a range of activities to support communities affected by the Ebola virus. You can read a report on the activities here.

 

Working under the auspices of the United Nations “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” (WASH) project, FHM have been active in Tonkolili and other areas. You can read here about FHM involvement in hygiene programmes related to prevention of the spread of Ebola  as well as other, longer term, objectives.

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This site was last modified on Monday, 1 February, 2016