Ebola Crisis

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  • Children at Risk: Help Fight Ebola

    In Guinea, a community member educates her neighbors
    about preventing Ebola.
    ChildFund has provided bleach and other hygiene supplies
    for the Ebola response.

    At the epicenter of the current devastating Ebola outbreak, in Lofa, Liberia, 10-year-old Yassah is troubled. “We’re not going to school,” she says. “We can’t even play together. Everything has stopped.”

    Ebola continues to spread in several western African countries, with thousands of deaths reported. Across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, more than 3,400 children have been orphaned, 2,000 of them in Liberia. “In addition to the tragedy of losing parents,” says Billy Abimbilla, national director for Liberia and Sierra Leone, “these children are being traumatized by the stigma associated with the virus.”

    Orphans, whose relatives are afraid to take them in, have nowhere to go. This leaves them at risk for abandonment, neglect, violence, exploitation and abuse.

    But now there is somewhere for them to go, thanks to a collaboration between ChildFund and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare: The first dedicated children’s Interim Care Center (ICC) has been opened for children who have lost one or both parents to Ebola. It will serve as a safe place for 20 children at a time to spend the 21-day quarantine period after their last contact with an infected person.

    Staff at the center will monitor the children for symptoms, but in a child-friendly environment with compassionate caregivers who can focus on them. At the ICC, children will be able to play and receive the psychosocial support they need. Staff will also search for each child’s family to help reunite them as soon as the quarantine period ends, or, if there is no family, identify other care options.

    ChildFund is also responding to additional secondary effects of the outbreak, which include increasing food needs as well as non-Ebola health issues for which people are unable to access care. ChildFund is providing food for children and families in our program areas and in the ICCs. In August and September, two airlifts brought desperately needed supplies to support the efforts of health care providers in Liberia.

    Meanwhile, ChildFund continues working to increase awareness among children and families about how to prevent the spread of the disease. In Guinea and Sierra Leone, we do this through local partner organizations with which we have worked successfully for several years; in Liberia, we partner with government ministries and coordinate with county health authorities and other local leaders.

    We are also distributing bleach, hygiene kits and gloves in all three countries. Our efforts are part of a larger regional response, in partnership with local and national governments and other global development organizations, to ensure that all activities complement each other.

    ChildFund has found that raising awareness through local staff and community mobilizers is most effective, as the information is coming from people the communities know and trust. Neighbors are more likely to listen to their close neighbors about how to protect themselves and each other, which increases shared knowledge and reduces fear.

    Help us fight Ebola, by donating to our Ebola Response Fund now. Your support will help us to

    • Step up our efforts to enhance public awareness about Ebola at the community level, including risk factors for transmission, effective control measures and prevention.
    • Strengthen coordination and communication among responding partners (WHO, CDC, government ministries, international organizations and civil society organizations) and within communities.
    • Reinforce government ministries’ ability to deliver appropriate psychosocial services and material support to affected children and families, who face stigma and need help reintegrating into their communities.
    • Strengthen community resilience and coping mechanisms by supporting community health personnel and other first responders to improve early detection, self‐reporting, rapid and safe referral of suspected cases, quarantine and tracing of contacts.
    • Create a safe and supportive working environment for ChildFund staff, local partner staff and community health workers attached to government ministries to work jointly in the three Ebola‐affected countries.

    Make a contribution to our Ebola Response Fund, below.