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Ebola Emergency

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  • Ebola: One Year Later

    Though the headlines no longer clamor for the world’s attention, Ebola is still very much a part of people’s lives in West Africa a year after the outbreak was first reported in March 2014. ChildFund has been working to help care for children who have been affected by the disease. “Emergencies are not new to West Africa, but Ebola came as a very different crisis,” says Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund’s national director for Liberia and Sierra Leone. “We have only recently emerged from years of civil war, yet in many ways our experience with Ebola has been far worse.” Read more here.

    Ebola Update: Sweetie Sweetie Goes Home … but More Children Still Wait


    We are happy to report that Sweetie Sweetie completed her 21-day quarantine without contracting Ebola and has left ChildFund’s Observation and Interim Care Center in Port Loko, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs has placed her in the care of the health worker who had watched over her in the Ebola Treatment Unit as she waited by her dying mother’s side. Read more here.


    Helping Sweetie Sweetie

    A recent New York Times article tells the story of a little girl who has suffered through an experience that no child should.

    Four-year-old Sweetie Sweetie lost both her parents to Ebola. First she lost her father, and then she watched her mother die. And now she is in ChildFund’s care, spending her 21-day quarantine at one of our Interim Care Centers (ICCs) in Sierra Leone. Read more here.


    Getting Rehydrated in Ebola’s Epicenter


    One of the side effects of Ebola is extreme and widespread dehydration, which causes a majority of the deaths among infected people. However, a U.S.-based startup company named DripDrop is providing Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) to ChildFund’s programs in West Africa. The powder packets — also called DripDrop — contain a precise ratio of electrolytes and sugar, which when mixed with clean water replenish fluids lost through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. Read more here.


  • Update on Kelekula Interim Care Centers

    Our first Kelekula Interim Care Center (KICC), in Monrovia, Liberia, is hosting its second group of children who have lost parents to Ebola. Thirteen children, ages 2 months to 16 years old, are staying there for their 21-day quarantine periods, at the end of which, if they remain Ebola-free, they will move on to one of three situations: reunification with family members, foster care or a ChildFund-supported transit center, where they will remain until family-based care can be found.


    Regional Program Manager for West Africa Kimberly Niles, right, and volunteers discuss the case management records for a child at the KICC.

    Of the first group —18 children in all — two died, five were reunited with families, and 11 are waiting in the transit center.

    Working with Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Work, ChildFund is preparing to open seven additional centers in Liberia: three more in Monrovia and a center each in Bomi, Margibi, Nimba and Bong counties. These are funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

    In Sierra Leone, ChildFund also has just opened three of seven planned KICCs and has planned six transit centers. in partnership with Sierra Leone's Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs. This is thanks to a partnership with the U.K’s Department for International Development, UNICEF and other donors.

    ChildFund will soon open a KICC in Guinea, as well.




    Searching for Hope

    A word from ChildFund’s National Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Billy Abimbilla

    The situation is as critical as you have heard about in the news. So many families have been completely wiped out by Ebola, and many other children are suffering a situation worse than any child would have suffered in the 14-year civil war in Liberia or the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone. Children are losing their parents, and they are in need of support because they are the most vulnerable.

    Because these children’s parents died of Ebola, sometimes their relatives are unwilling to care for them for fear of being infected by them. ChildFund, in partnership with Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, is creating interim care centers (ICCs) to provide a safe and caring environment for children who’ve been in contact with infected people. The one we started in Liberia is the first anywhere.

    ChildFund helping to fight Ebola

    Billy Abimbilla examines a shipment of supplies for helping fight Ebola in Liberia.

    A few days ago, I went there and spoke to one of the children. I said, “So, you must have been told you are here for a short while – where do you want to go after you have been here for 21 days?” And they don’t want to go back to where they come from, because they were stigmatized and driven away. Some of the children told me they were being treated like animals. They were not being given food directly. Those who were taking care of them would put the food somewhere and ask them to go for it. They didn’t want to get near the children. They were sleeping on the floor in rooms that were leaking – and this is the rainy season – and nobody wanted to talk to them. The children of these families would not get near them. And so they felt abandoned. So their wish is that, after 21 days, they find reunification with other families who will accept them for who they are.

    What ChildFund is doing is to find some hope for these children, to support and protect them. We want to be able to set up more of these interim care centers for children – provide recreational activities, feed them three times a day, reunify them with a family, clothe them and let them live as children with dignity like any other child.

    The need is big, and the children are many. The resources that we currently have to help these children are not enough or adequate. The trauma of this outbreak is going to live on for so many years after it ends.


    ChildFund's Ebola Response

    Ebola continues to spread across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Thousands of people have died, and thousands of children are losing parents and family members. ChildFund continues working to help children and families protect themselves from the disease — and to help them pick up the pieces when Ebola disrupts their lives.

    In Guinea and Sierra Leone, we do all of 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.

    Guinea map

    Ebola 2014 Outbreak Map of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

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

    • Continue 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.
    • Create Kelekula Interim Care Centers for children who have lost parents to Ebola and have nowhere to go for their 21-day quarantine period; reunite them with their families or help place them into family-based care; support and monitor their progress.
    • 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.


    Third Airlift Lands in West Africa, Bringing Supplies to Fight Ebola

    Today, a flight landed in Sierra Leone carrying critically needed medical supplies to directly support ChildFund International’s Kelekula Interim Care Centers (KICC) for children affected by Ebola. The KICCs are currently being set up in the three most impacted countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Kelekula means “willing heart” in the Kpelle language.

    The flight included generous donations from several companies and nonprofit partners. Braun donated non-contact thermometers, which have been referred to as the “unicorn” of the Ebola crisis, because it is one of the most in-demand pieces of equipment for detection of Ebola. Procter & Gamble not only supplied funding to support the development of the KICCs but also donated Duracell batteries to keep the thermometers running. The DripDrop Foundation donated the first good-tasting, medical-grade oral rehydration solution, to help combat dehydration. MedShare donated enough hospital beds to support an entire KICC facility.

    The transport of these supplies would not be possible without two of ChildFund’s other amazing nonprofit partners, AIRLINK and GotLift. This is the third flight that has included ChildFund supplies, with the prior two flights going to Liberia. This is ChildFund’s first participation in a flight to Sierra Leone.


    Ebola Shatters Childhood

    No 4-year-old should have to face the unimaginable. In Liberia, Boimo has. He still does.

    We don’t know exactly what the little boy saw, or what he still sees in his mind. We do know he saw his parents dead from Ebola. We know he saw their corpses sprayed with disinfectant.

    And we know it traumatized him. “I don’t want them to spray me!” he said. “They sprayed my mother, my mother died. They sprayed my father, my father died.”

    Interim care center

    The Kelekula Interim Care Center in Monrovia

    Boimo and his baby brother, 3-month-old Flomo*, are staying in ChildFund’s new Kelekula Interim Care Center, in Monrovia, a safe place for children to spend the 21-day quarantine period after their last contact with someone who was infected. There, in the care of volunteers who have themselves survived Ebola and are immune to the virus, children can play, learn and be comforted while staff searches for family or foster parents to take them in. The children are also carefully monitored for signs of Ebola.

    When baby Flomo and four other children developed symptoms and were whisked away to a treatment center, Boimo was terrified anew. “My brother will not survive because they will spray him!” he told one of his caregivers. “I will not see my little brother again.”

    Mercifully, Flomo tested negative for Ebola and has since returned to the center. A 2-year-old girl who was admitted with him wasn’t so lucky.

    No child should go through this. And yet, in West Africa, thousands do. The number of children orphaned by Ebola is near 4,000 and rising. Family members are afraid to take them in.

    In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, all three countries still remaking themselves after years of shattering civil war, a second generation of children is being devastated. As desperation mounts along with the numbers of Ebola cases, we need your help.

    ChildFund is working in all three countries to stop the spread of the virus — and to help children and families pick up the pieces.

    Let your heart break for them. And then, please, give generously now. Help us help them.

    *The children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.