A disaster, natural or manmade, can derail a
child’s life. And when that child lives in extreme poverty, life is even more
Imagine a little girl’s home tumbling down
around her. Perhaps she sees a loved one pass away. Another child loses track
of his parents. Who will feed him? Who will keep him safe? Who can help these
children heal and move forward?
ChildFund responds to emergencies with an eye
toward the specific needs of children, and we make it easy for you to help.
Please donate to our Emergency Action Fund and help us stay prepared for
the next emergency.
Learn more about ChildFund’s approach to emergency management.
For more recent information about the Ebola outbreak in western Africa and how you can help, visit our Ebola Emergency Page.
Just as Sierra Leone appeared to be emerging from the yearlong Ebola crisis, heavy rains came down Sept. 16 and 17 in the national capital of Freetown, causing massive flooding that has displaced more than 8,000 people and claimed at least 10 lives. Many of the 8,000 flood victims were evacuated and are living at two stadiums, and even more people have remained in their communities and need assistance. Those displaced by the flood are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea, and health authorities are monitoring the area for signs of Ebola returning. So far, there have been no reported cases of the virus in Freetown, according to news reports.
For now, ChildFund is working with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs to help 3,000 children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers through November by providing them with food and safe drinking water, as well as other immediate needs like blankets, mattresses and clothing. We also will support 1,500 school-aged children with uniforms, books, school bags and other learning materials to replace items lost in the flood. Finally, 250 families will receive hygiene and sanitary products to help them remain healthy and safe. ChildFund staff members and local partner organizations also will help children recover emotionally from these traumatic experiences.
You can help children and their family members rebuild their lives after disasters by making a gift to ChildFund’s Emergency Response Fund.
Electricity has returned to the whole island of Dominica, but some areas are still difficult to reach because of flooded roads and destroyed bridges, and phone lines, cable and Internet connections are down in some places. ChildFund Caribbean staff members are working with local partner organizations to locate and speak with all of our sponsored children and their family members, a task that has taken a long time because of the conditions, as well as families’ having moved to safer parts of the island.
We do know that more than 100 sponsored children were evacuated from their homes, including some who were airlifted. Petite Savanne, Delices and Boetica, three communities in the southeastern part of the island, are still virtually inaccessible from the outside. Food supplies come in via pulleys and ladders, because the local bridge has washed away.
At least 2,000 children and youth — or about two-thirds of the young people enrolled with ChildFund in Dominica — continue to be affected by the impact of Tropical Storm Erika, considered the nation’s worst disaster in 30 years.
Houses and workplaces have been destroyed, and clean water is scarce in some places. An estimated 30 percent of the population is waiting for water mains and pipes to be rebuilt, according to ChildFund staff there.
Working with local government and other organizations, our staff has also provided water, food, hygiene and sanitation supplies, books, games and toys for children in nine shelters throughout Dominica. We continue to work in six shelters to provide assistance and psychosocial support to help children cope with their experiences.
Every day, teams of two or three ChildFund staff members make children comfortable by singing songs, telling stories, playing sports and, most important, listening to the children’s fears and traumatic memories. Many children say they’re afraid of rain and landslides now, as well as traveling on roads to get to school. We’ll continue to work with children and their family members as they attempt to rebuild their lives after the storm.
Access across storm-ravaged Dominica remains challenging. Most of the affected communities are set near rivers, on undulating, precipitous terrain or on the shores of the Atlantic. One community is landlocked and, for now, accessible only by air or on foot. Nine communities across the island have been declared “special disaster areas.” Six shelters house 369 people, including 95 children.
ChildFund operates throughout the island. For now, our usual programs are on hold while our staff focuses on immediate relief and ensuring that child protection needs are addressed. We are providing food and non-food items, with a particular focus on hygiene and sanitation in the nine special disaster areas, and collaborating with other organizations and authorities on the ground to reach those in need.
Meanwhile, community members are banding together to tackle the daunting work of clean-up and restoration, and supporting each other with their limited means. Local fishermen are helping distribute supplies. Less-affected communities are stepping up to help those that were more severely damaged, and health care and mental health providers are offering their services as they can.
ChildFund, with its emphasis on child protection in emergencies, has produced a public service announcement calling upon parents, caregivers and communities overall to pay special attention to children, mindful of the added hazards and trauma they are experiencing. Three radio stations are broadcasting this message throughout the island.
ChildFund is also preparing to open Child-Centered Spaces (see 9/2 update) at shelters in the nine designated communities.
After being hit with heavy rains and flooding from Tropical Storm Erika, Dominica’s residents are beginning to assess the damage to their homes and livelihoods. ChildFund’s team in the Caribbean has established contact with all staff members in Dominica’s national office and at our local partner organizations, and we’ve learned that several dozen enrolled and sponsored children are among those living in shelters. We have been able to provide food, medicine, water and other supplies to people stranded in several locations.
According to ChildFund’s staff on the ground, about 75 percent of the island’s electricity has been restored, but many areas lack fresh water. Authorities expect it will take up to five weeks for the whole island to have access to clean running water, so waterborne illness may become a major concern. Flights also remain canceled, although travel by boat is possible. ChildFund representatives are attending meetings of Dominica’s National Emergency Planning Organization and coordinating with the Ministry of Education, Health and Social Welfare.
Child protection will be a central focus for ChildFund in the coming weeks as we open Child-Centered Spaces, where children can be supervised while their parents and caregivers assess damage and rebuild their homes. The CCSs will be stocked with snacks, toys, art supplies, diapers and children’s clothing, and trained caregivers will provide psychosocial support as well as hygiene education to children. The CCSs also help children and families connect to services for protection and other needs.
Tropical Storm Erika crossed Dominica yesterday, swamping the Caribbean island nation with an unexpected 15 inches of rain. The entire country has been affected, with landslides and flooding sweeping away homes and cutting off entire communities. So far, a reported four people have died, and 35 are missing. Many communities have not yet been reached as bridges and roads are damaged or destroyed, and communications are disrupted due to widespread power outages. The ground is fully saturated and at risk for more landslides.
ChildFund is working to reach its program communities and preparing to launch a rapid assessment, from which we'll determine how to respond to children's and families' needs. Please know that we will share information as we receive it.
Flooding Cyclone Komen has claimed 180 lives and displaced about 1.2 million people in West Bengal, India, including communities where ChildFund India works. But there is some positive news: The rain has stopped and the floodwaters are receding, according to reports from our national office in India.
There has been no loss of life among enrolled and sponsored children or their family members in West Bengal, a state in eastern India between the Himalayan Mountains and the Bay of Bengal, our staff members in India have confirmed.
Children are going to a safe shelter with their family members.
A flooded home.
A family takes shelter in Dharamsala.
However, flooding has affected more than 10,000 people where ChildFund works, and local government officials have set up shelters where 3,000 people are staying until it is safe for them to return home. At least 20 ChildFund-enrolled children’s homes have suffered severe damage. After the water recedes further over the next few days, ChildFund India and the local government will assess the damage and help these and other families rebuild their homes and livelihoods.
Right now, the largest concern is providing enough food, water and proper sanitation facilities to people affected by the flooding. ChildFund is working with the local government and its local partner organization to help provide food, tarps, bleaching powder, antibiotics and halogen tablets. Our office also is helping distribute medicine for fevers, colds, coughs and skin problems, which are affecting families in the region. We will be watching this situation closely and will provide updates when more information is confirmed.
Families like Ayush’s are struggling to get back on their feet after losing their homes, jobs and even loved ones. This video, filmed by Jake Lyell, shows the personal toll the disaster has taken on Ayush’s family. You can help by donating to our Emergency Response Fund.
More than 8,100 people are reported dead from Nepal’s April 25 earthquake. A 7.3-magnitude aftershock east of Kathmandu, in the Sindhupalchowk District, where ChildFund is responding in four villages, has added to that number, but it is not yet known how much. The ChildFund team, which was in Kathmandu for a meeting, is OK.
Before this latest temblor, the Nepalese government confirmed that in the original quake, 288,798 houses had been destroyed and 254,112 damaged. These numbers are sure to increase.
ChildFund completed its first food distribution, and plans are in place to distribute tarps, tents and ground sheets, as well as more food. We do not yet know how damage from the earthquake will affect those plans.
But we do know that the need is now greater than ever. Please help Nepal’s children by donating to our Emergency Response Fund.
ChildFund was the first to reach Sindhulpalchok District with food.
Throughout earthquake-stricken areas of Nepal, security is deteriorating as desperation mounts and aid agencies struggle to transport relief supplies to their intended recipients. An estimated 3 million people need food assistance. Malnutrition is a growing concern.
Among the four Sindhupalchowk villages where ChildFund is responding, nearly 3,000 people died, and as many are injured. Ninety percent of schools, houses and health posts are damaged or destroyed. Basic services are disrupted or wiped out. Livelihoods have been interrupted; in this largely agricultural area, food production depends on electricity, equipment and markets, all of which are out of reach. Food reserves are dwindling.
ChildFund has already made an initial distribution of 10 tons of food to the villages, reaching more than 3,000 housholds. In these weeks immediately following the earthquake, basic needs will continue to be the focus of ChildFund’s response: rice, dahl, blankets, buckets, children’s and babies’ clothes, cloth diapers, hygiene kits, supplementary feeding, tents and tarps. Child-centered spaces and temporary educational spaces are also planned. Efforts are underway to ensure that all of these items arrive in large quantities by mid-June, before the monsoon season begins and damaged roads become impassable. Child protection is also an urgent priority within the response.
Meanwhile, aftershocks continue, further stressing the already traumatized children and families.
Please help the children and families of Nepal by donating to ChildFund’s Emergency Action Fund now.
In Sindhupalchowk, families dig through the ruins of their homes,
Nearly a week after Nepal’s earthquake, the death toll has topped 6,000 and the injured number more than twice that. Nepal’s National Emergency Operations Center, operating under its Ministry of Home Affairs, reports that more than 130,000 houses were destroyed, and more 85,000 were damaged.
For now, tents and food are the most critical needs. Both are hard to find, and both are tortuously making their way to where they are needed. Main roads are open, but many secondary roads remain blocked.
ChildFund is working to bring relief to four villages in Sindhupalchowk, among the hardest-hit districts. Today, our convoy arrived there bringing 10 tons of rice, 1.5 tons of dhal (lentils) and salt, to support more than 10,000 children and family members. A second distribution of tents and ground sheets is planned, but these items are becoming increasingly scarce, and their prices are rocketing.
Please donate generously to our Emergency Action Fund to help children and families suffering in Nepal.
Afraid to enter their homes due to ongoing aftershocks since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck on April 25, families sleep in makeshift tents in Lalitpur, Nepal. Photo by Jake Lyell
Conditions in Nepal remain dire five days after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck.
Because of ongoing aftershocks, people have been advised to remain in open spaces, so they continue to sleep outdoors in the damp and cold. Blankets and tents are hard to come by, as are all the basics – food, water, shelter, sanitation, medicine and more. Limited water supplies are sparking unrest.
The stress is enormous, which, especially for children, amplifies the risks of abuse and neglect. This concern will be central in ChildFund’s response.
Our partner in Nepal, ChildFund Japan, operates in two districts, Sindhupalchok and Ramechhap, both of which are among the dozen districts most affected. In addition to child protection, their response will focus on food and non-food relief; water, sanitation and hygiene; education and helping rebuild lost livelihoods. Their efforts will be based on the assessments they are carrying out now.
Our responders face a most challenging environment: Major roads and highways are open, but remote areas remain difficult to access due to cracked roads and landslides. In Kathmandu, fuel reserves are low, mobile networks are functional but unstable, and electricity is limited. In four of Nepal’s hardest-hit districts, up to 90 percent of the health clinics were severely damaged. Many of the resources arriving in the country are slow to make their way beyond the capital to where they are needed, leaving children and families waiting for desperately needed relief.
Rain has been predicted in the next 10 days, which has raised further fears about landslides, local flooding and waterborne disease. The seasonal monsoons are due to begin soon. Please help children and families in Nepal by donating generously to the Emergency Action Fund now.
Families are camping outside rather than seeking shelter in what buildings are still standing.
As the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal surpasses 5,000, children and families there continue to shiver through aftershocks, living day and night outside. Nighttime temperatures this week are in the 50s.
Our colleagues in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, report that food and water are in short supply, and that damage to sanitation systems has resulted in a growing risk of infectious disease.
Communications appear to be slowly coming back online, so a few details are trickling in:
Assessing the damage and needs remains the primary task for now; it’s clear the needs are vast, and we want to meet them effectively. Please help children and families in Nepal by donating to the Emergency Action Fund.
As children and families throughout much of Nepal spend their third night out in the open, news from the country continues to arrive slowly.
Initial government reports confirm that 30 out of 75 districts in the country, or about 40 per cent, have been affected.
ChildFund staff in Nepal report the situation on the ground is absolutely devastating and the number of people killed, injured and affected by this earthquake continues to rise. As of this morning, more than 4,000 people have been confirmed dead and nearly 8,000 injured, with these figures expected to increase sharply as help reaches more remote areas.
“There is an urgent need for food, water, medicine and shelter,” says Mariko Tanaka, country director for ChildFund's work in Nepal. “Currently there is no electricity. Communication lines are also down. Many people have been displaced from their homes and have spent the night out in the open. There are many people injured, and hospitals are unable to handle the situation.”
ChildFund Japan, which has been working in Nepal for 20 years, is performing a rapid assessment in Sindhupalchok district, one of the worst-hit areas, where our partner staff estimates 80 percent of the communities’ mud houses have been destroyed. Children and families are now staying outdoors in freezing temperatures and need immediate assistance.
We will continue to share information as it arrives. Meanwhile, you can help Nepal through our Emergency Action Fund.
People search for family members trapped inside collapsed houses a day after an earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, April 26, 2015.
Just before noon on Saturday, a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, killing more than 2,500, injuring upwards of 5,000 and affecting 6.6 million. The quake’s effects also extend across the region – India, Tibet, China, and Bangladesh.
Homes, businesses and historic temples lie in ruins. Children and families, with nowhere else to go, are spending both day and night outside. Electricity and communications are down, so information is slow to arrive, but teams in Nepal are on the ground assessing needs, with special attention toward the situation of children. We do know there is high need for food, water, shelter, medicine and, especially for children, protection.
To help with the response effort, please donate today to ChildFund’s Emergency Action Fund.
Ten-year-old James and his family from Efate Island are living under an improvised tent.
Vanuatu continues to reel from the Category 5 cyclone that hit the tiny island nation on March 13. Cyclone Pam affected 166,000 people – including 82,000 children – and is considered to be the strongest cyclone ever to hit the South Pacific.
With nearly 15,000 homes damaged or destroyed, more than 75,000 people were left without shelter. Although many have returned home from the temporary evacuation centers, most of the affected families are living in temporary shelters as they begin to rebuild their lives.
Communication has been restored to much of the country, and some schools have begun to reopen. However, many — about half — were seriously damaged or destroyed in the storm. More urgently, 110,000 people are still without access to clean drinking water. Water tanks have been destroyed and wells contaminated, forcing women and children, in particular, to walk long distances in the hot sun to fetch fresh water. Some have even resorted to boiling seawater — a dangerous alternative.
Crops have also been wiped out, a serious issue for a population whose income is based predominantly on agriculture. With impending food shortages, children are also at risk for malnutrition and hunger, and the economic toll of lost harvests will have a lasting impact on the region.
To help with the continued response effort, please donate today to ChildFund’s Vanuatu Emergency Response Fund.
ChildFund Australia reports that Live & Learn Vanuatu, its local partner on the ground, is doing preliminary work to restore water and sanitation systems to the islands. Right now, the team’s focus is to purchase roofing materials, tools, screws, nails, timber and rainwater harvesting systems, an urgent task because prices are quickly rising. ChildFund Australia contributed funding to purchase these materials.
Also, Port Vila Central School reopened yesterday, after community members helped clean up debris and dry out library books. Other schools are still closed and need repairs. Ten-year-old Sabrina, seen in the picture with her 1-year-old brother and cousins, is waiting for her school to reopen.
As work continues, you can help by making a donation to ChildFund’s Vanuatu Response Fund.
Devastation in Port Vila. Photo courtesy Live & Learn Vanuatu.
With communications still largely disrupted throughout Vanuatu’s 80 islands, information about conditions there is sparse, especially from the outer islands. Reports of the archipelago’s alarming shortage of freshwater supplies cite water and hygiene as among the most life-threatening concerns, and ChildFund is supporting an emergency response centered on this issue, through Live & Learn Vanuatu, ChildFund Australia’s partner organization on the ground.
A classroom. Photo courtesy Live & Learn Vanuatu.
Crops were destroyed along with the landscape, so a food crisis also looms, and tens of thousands of children and families remain without shelter. Live & Learn’s Anjali Nelson reports that most of the schools Live & Learn works with in Port Vila, the capital, have suffered significant structural damage, which will pose challenges for the work to provide clean, safe water and hygiene facilities.
We will provide information as we receive it. But it’s clear now that the need is great, and the response will be long and complex. Please help.
One of the strongest cyclones ever to hit the South Pacific island of Vanuatu has left at least 24 people dead, as well as thousands of homes, schools and buildings damaged or destroyed and an estimated 3,300 people displaced. News reports indicate that fresh water is running out, as well as food supplies.
Our Alliance partner, ChildFund Australia, is working with Live & Learn Vanuatu, a child-focused organization that has been operating in Vanuatu for many years, to respond to this disaster and ensure that children are protected in the wake of the storm.
“Cyclone Pam has been compared to Typhoon Haiyan, a fresh memory, so our hearts are with the children and families of Vanuatu, knowing they have an enormously difficult road ahead,” said ChildFund International President & CEO Anne Lynam Goddard. Approximately 60,000 children have been affected.
“One of the main concerns now is to restore clean water to help ensure the health of children in cyclone-ravaged areas,” said ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “Contaminated water can contain diseases such as cholera, which causes severe diarrhea and can lead to death.
“ChildFund is working with Live & Learn to restore water systems and sanitation facilities in schools and to protect and support children in Vanuatu whose lives are in upheaval as a result of this disaster.”
You can help by making a donation.
Since Dec. 19, Sri Lanka has been experiencing turbulent weather, with heavy rainfall and localized high winds at times caused by two low-pressure areas in the Bay of Bengal near the island. As a result, more than 1 million people across 22 of the country’s 25 districts have been affected by flooding, high winds and landslides, which have damaged or destroyed about 20,000 houses. More than 100,000 people have been displaced to evacuation centers, and many more have fled to the homes of friends or relatives.
Some regions have reported cases of dengue fever, which is carried by mosquitoes.
ChildFund’s local partner organizations operate in seven of Sri Lanka’s districts, four of which were affected enough to require our support, which is taking place now, according to our Dec. 29 situation report.
In those areas (Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa and Anuradhapura districts), we are collaborating with government authorities to provide food, water, bedding, mosquito nets, hygiene items, learning materials and, through Child-Centered Spaces, psychosocial support. In Batticaloa, the worst-hit region, 1,951 ChildFund-enrolled children were affected by flooding; 505 total in Puttalam; 44 in Polonnaruwa and six in Anuradhapura.
We will provide further updates as they become available.
To a collective sigh of relief, Typhoon Hagupit is exiting Philippine waters without having wrought nearly the expected damage. Here’s the breakdown of our affected program areas:
Western Visayas: All enrolled children are accounted for, save one who had traveled to another area and whom we are tracking down through a family member. All 87 families who sought refuge from the storm are now back to their respective homes. Some houses were damaged, and the local partner organization is coordinating with the government for help with repairs.
Southern Luzon: All children are accounted for. The 200 families who evacuated are gradually returning home.
Bicol: All children are accounted for. The 2,675 enrolled children and their families who evacuated spent two nights at the evacuation centers and have returned to their homes. Classes in some schools have already resumed. Power supply is up already.
Throughout all affected areas, our local partner staff are assessing the extent of damage to property and livelihoods of our families affected by the typhoon.
Here’s a message from ChildFund Philippines National Director Katherine Manik: “Thank you all for your support during this time. The greatest thanks and appreciation go to the ChildFund Philippines staff, many of whom weathered the storm in harm’s way in our offices, hotel rooms and at their homes in order to prepare for and protect our program participants, children, families and communities and be ready to respond if necessary. ChildFund Philippines has a remarkable team of dedicated professionals who have earned the highest respect and recognition for their service to ChildFund.”
Just over a year after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as “Ruby,” is roaring slowly across that country, including some areas still recovering from Haiyan.
After Hagupit’s erratic pattern of development from tropical storm to Super Typhoon to “strong typhoon,” leaving millions shaken and fearful, Hagupit made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Saturday evening, tracking across Samar and just north of Tacloban City, the area hardest hit by Haiyan.
Fortunately, Hagupit has turned out to be not nearly as powerful as last year’s deadly Haiyan. Still, the slow-moving storm is bringing torrential rains, and flashfloods and landslides are concerns. The storm is curving northwest, toward Manila, and will pass south of the capital on Monday night.
Meanwhile, ChildFund is participating in coordinated response and needs-assessment planning with the government and other NGOs. We also are coordinating closely with our local partner organizations in potentially affected areas; before the storm, all reported that they were ready, with Child-Centered Space kits pre-positioned to provide children with psychosocial and other support. Emergency response teams have pre-positioned supplies, including emergency kits and tents.
As of right now, our easternmost local partner is gathering information about the community it serves and will conduct rapid assessments on Monday, once the weather subsides more. We are still waiting to hear from our other four local partners in Hagupit’s path, but the weakening of the storm as it passes over land is reason for hope. We’ll provide more updates as we receive them.
The first typhoon to hit the Philippines since Super Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation last November has pounded the archipelago with high winds and heavy rains. After making landfall in Bicol on Tuesday, Typhoon Rammasun (locally known as Glenda) intensified as it traveled northwest toward Manila, packing sustained winds of 115 mph. More than 400,000 people were evacuated in advance of the storm.
Before the typhoon arrived, there was concern that there would be major flooding in Manila, but the storm did not bring as much rain as expected, so the high winds were the greater source of damage. Twenty casualties have been reported. Hundreds of thousands are without power, and the capital is largely shut down, but schools and offices are expected to open on Thursday.
ChildFund works with five local partner organizations that lie in Rammasun’s path. All of them prepared extensively for the storm, coordinating with their communities to pre-position emergency response teams; food, water and other needs; and Child-Centered Spaces. The nature of ChildFund’s response will depend on what initial assessment reports tell us, and these are underway. A primary concern is flooding in low-lying and slum areas. We will provide updates as soon as they become available.
Thirteen weeks after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, children and families continue to struggle. Infrastructure including electricity and water continue slowly coming back online, but some areas are still rationing water. Rains plagued the Visayas in early January, adding to the discomfort of families already left homeless by the typhoon and hampering mobility of government and non-government staff and aid workers. The weather also diminished attendance at some Child-Centered Spaces, or CCSs.
So far, ChildFund has delivered 32,575 food packs (each of which feeds five people for five days) and 9,771 non-food item kits. Of the 15 CCSs ChildFund opened, 13 are still running.
Meanwhile, ChildFund is beginning to shift its strategy from relief efforts to recovery. This means, in part, supporting the transition from CCSs into a community-based child protection model.
Roxas City, Capiz:
Three Child-Centered Spaces are still running in Roxas City. Since most public elementary schools and day care centers reopened on Jan. 6, CCSs have reduced schedules, only on Saturdays and Sundays. ChildFund has also provided orientations on CCS activities to PTA officers, community council members and educators from six schools.
ChildFund continues its work to help communities take on responsibility for child protection mechanisms to ensure that children will continue to be protected and CCS activities will integrate into community- and school-based approaches. The three CCSs now operate only on Saturdays.
Parents report that they are happy to see their children happy in the CCSs. ChildFund provided teachers with training on psychosocial support, and the teachers are now applying some of the activities in their classes.
Tacloban, Tolosa, Tanauan and Palo, Leyte:
Local volunteers and schoolteachers continue to provide CCS activities, some of them after school, now that classes have resumed.
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As Ebola continues to spread in several western African countries, with more than 900 deaths reported in the region, simple measures, like hand washing, are proving to be one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Due to intense awareness raising and education, people now believe that the disease is real and not attributable to witchcraft or other causes,” says Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund’s national director for Sierra Leone and Liberia. The national office has coordinated with health authorities to respond to the emergency. Meanwhile, our local partner organizations are providing education, hygiene kits and bleach. Beyond these activities, other programs remain on hold.
The situation remains tense as the virus has shifted to new areas of Sierra Leone, including one district adjacent to our program areas. Health care providers have died, many are ill, and others are staying away from work for fear of infection, so the already weak health care system is further compromised. “The government is however doing very well in committing resources, including the cutting of ministers’ salaries to respond to the situation,” says Abimbilla.
In Liberia, on the other hand, the virus has accelerated and is spreading faster than expected. Because the situation there initially seemed less dire, education and awareness raising were less intense. Thus, Abimbilla says, “many people are still in the denial stage about the disease, doubting its killing power.”
ChildFund is a member of the NGO consortium addressing the epidemic in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, attending regular debriefing sessions with the governments every week to know what is being done and to contribute to the discussions.
Please understand that we cannot answer questions about specific children, for two reasons: To preserve families’ privacy, we cannot share personal medical information; and in-country ChildFund staff members are not readily available to answer questions during this challenging time. We ask supporters to bear with us, and know that we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will provide updates as we receive them. But if the worst does happen, the national office notifies ChildFund’s international office, and we in turn notify the sponsor. Thus, no news is good news.
spread of Ebola in the Mano River sub-region has been contained in Guinea, which has had the most documented cases. But
recently in Sierra Leone, the number of cases jumped — as of June 18, this
hemorrhagic fever had claimed 20 lives, with 132 people having tested positive.
The cases are concentrated in the Kailahun District, which shares a border with
Liberia, to the east. ChildFund operates programs in five of Kailahun’s 14
contain the spread of this deadly virus, the Sierra Leone government has closed
schools and prohibited all public gatherings. Vehicles and passengers entering
and leaving the district must be screened at checkpoints, and residents are
required to report to health authorities any symptoms of the disease in their
the Sierra Leone and Liberia (combined) national office has evacuated ChildFund
staff working in the affected areas, effective until the government of Sierra
Leone and the World Health Organization declare the situation safe. All of
these staff members have been screened and are free of infection.
until the situation stabilizes, ChildFund has suspended its programs in the
area, except for ongoing awareness-raising activities and community education,
carried out by local partner organization staff members who remain at their
posts because they live nearby. Working with local authorities, ChildFund is facilitating
community awareness on symptoms and
prevention of Ebola; promoting hygiene and providing supplies such as bleach,
soap, buckets and towels; and distributing megaphones, batteries and protective
gear to communities. The Ministry of Health and other nongovernmental
organizations also are promoting awareness activities in Kailahun and
throughout Sierra Leone, and various ministries are working on logistical
concerns. Nationwide radio programs educate the general public about how to
prevent infection, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.
We understand that sponsors are especially concerned
about children they sponsor in these communities, as well as just over the
border, in Liberia, where a smaller-scale flare-up has been reported. Please
understand that we are unable to answer questions about specific children, for
two reasons: To preserve families’ privacy, we cannot share personal medical
information; and in-country ChildFund staff members are not readily available
to answer questions during this challenging time. Please bear with us, and know
that we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will provide updates as we
A recent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Guinea has affected the Mano River Union sub-region, which comprises Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea is the most affected, with 157 suspected cases and 101 deaths; in Liberia, 21 cases have been reported, with 10 deaths. One child died in Sierra Leone after having attended a funeral in Guinea.
Symptoms of Ebola, which is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, include sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, failing kidney and liver function and, sometimes, both internal and external bleeding.
For this deadly illness, which kills 90 percent of those infected, there is no vaccine, and there is no cure. There is only prevention and containment, and these are the center of ChildFund’s emergency response. Learn how you can help.
A year to the day after Cyclone Phailin hit eastern India, Cyclone Hudhud roared out of the Bay of Bengal with nearly 120 mph winds — in the same place, and with similar force. More than 400,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm. A total 25 casualties have been reported, 22 from Andhra Pradesh and three from neighboring Odisha.
Last year’s storm, then the worst storm in 14 years, brought with it memories of a devastating cyclone that took more than 10,000 lives in Odisha, then known as Orissa. Fortunately, Phailin’s loss of life was only about one-hundredth that of the 2000 cyclone, thanks to thorough preparation by the national government, community members, local authorities and, in our program areas, ChildFund’s local partner organizations. Most people were evacuated in time.
Early reports suggest that the same will hold true for Hudhud — our local partners report that the people in the villages they support are safe. “Most of the people from low-lying areas of the project villages have shifted to safe places as arranged by the local district authorities,” says Chiranjeet Das, ChildFund India’s technical advisor for disaster risk management.
Both states are experiencing widespread power outages, roads are largely blocked, and flooding and landslides remain risks. An additional concern is that the storm hit the area during a time when many communities are still recovering from the damage wrought by Phailin and the tropical depression that followed, which together damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and more than a million acres of farmland.
After any emergency, ChildFund’s first step is to conduct rapid assessments in our program areas in order to plan our response, and we are doing that now. With the widespread disruptions in communication and other infrastructure, gathering information is difficult, but we will share updates as soon as we have them.
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