The graduates making a fresh start after Ebola

HealthcareLiberiaSierra Leone

It’s a key weapon in the fight against Ebola and now it’s helping people struggling as a result of the disease to support themselves – soap.

Using bars of the stuff has proved an effective way of stemming the spread of Ebola in West Africa, where more than 11,000 people have died as a result of the outbreak.

But learning how to make soap is also helping create new sources of income. In Liberia, 125 people – Ebola survivors or people who have lost family – have just graduated from a training course run by Tearfund partner, the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL).

Photo: Layton Thompson/Tearfund

Drama and song accompanied a graduation celebration at New Life Bible Church in St Francis Community in Jacob Town, where the guest speaker, the director of the Central Bank of Liberia, described the course as a milestone which will provide livelihoods for graduates.

There was also praise from Rev Dr. Nuwoe-James Kiamu, President of AEL Board of Governors, who told trainees: ‘You are a part of the solution to the country's problems and not part of the problems.’

One of the big problems facing Liberia, where Ebola has claimed 4,800 lives, is a faltering economy as a result of the outbreak. Economic growth will slow to almost zero this year, according to the IMF.

Photo: Layton Thompson/Tearfund

Helping people restart livelihoods will be a key part of Tearfund’s support for the next phase of recovery projects.

So far AEL has trained 125 households in the science of growing rice and provided them with seeds, while 25 more have been trained in vegetable production for income generation.

AEL has also trained 300 households in the management of small businesses and handed out small grants to kickstart mini-enterprises.

Similar activities are being carried out by partners in Sierra Leone, which was declared free of Ebola earlier this month.

Mark Lang