It’s been a momentous week for the people of Sierra Leone.
After nearly two years of battling Ebola, the West African state was finally declared free of the disease last weekend.
With Liberia being Ebola-free since September, the task in both countries is now helping survivors get their lives back on track and Tearfund will be supporting partners in such work well into next year.
This will include:
- training people so they can start new livelihoods and grants for the creation of small businesses
- supporting children orphaned by the disease so they can continue their education, plus ongoing psychosocial help
- improving access to water and sanitation
- raising awareness of good hygiene practices
- supporting the church to reduce the stigmatisation of survivors
But vigilance will also be needed, says Francis Wahome, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia: ‘Recent evidence shows the virus can survive for much longer than originally believed,’ said Francis. ‘This poses a challenge as there is a danger that infections can re-emerge from unexpected sources.
‘The impact of Ebola has yet to be quantified in terms of economic and social impact, but it has caused unemployment, devastated health infrastructure, reduced agricultural production, deprived children of time in school and eroded social values.
‘It will take quite a while to get back to where we started and many people will need to be cushioned against the economic impact. Support from the international community will remain critical in a situation where most agencies have moved on since the emergency phase of the outbreak.’
- Please give thanks that both Sierra Leone and Liberia are Ebola-free but pray for the disease to be eradicated in Guinea.
- Pray for orphaned children to find love and support in truly caring families and institutions.
- Pray that survivors can be fully reintegrated into their communities without any stigma.