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Helping Sweetie Sweetie

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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.

The article has brought a huge, compassionate response — and many questions. Here are some answers:

  • Sweetie Sweetie is fine and healthy — thankfully, her temperature has remained normal at the three-times-daily temperature checks.
  • She has not been adopted, although many people in the United States have expressed interest in doing so. ChildFund’s first goal is to place Sweetie Sweetie — and the other children in our care — with relatives, because we believe that the best place for a child to grow up is with her own family and within her own culture. At this time, ChildFund is working with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Work to find such homes for all the children who have lost family to Ebola and are staying in our ICCs in both Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • In the ICC, Sweetie Sweetie and the other children receive three meals a day, they have toys and activities to keep them busy, and they have caregivers 24/7. Although they often arrive at the centers traumatized by their experiences, the ICC staff — themselves Ebola survivors — work hard to help them cope. After a few days, the children settle in and are more able to be children again.

One of the biggest questions has been “How can I help?”

You can help us help more Sweetie Sweeties by donating to our Ebola response fund. We are working to set up and run more ICCs. As Billy Abimbilla, national director of ChildFund’s offices in Sierra Leone and Liberia, said in an earlier update, “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.”