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SOS Children offers to help care for Ebola orphans

In Sierra Leone, children who have been orphaned because of Ebola are often stigmatised and have no-one to look after them.
In Sierra Leone, children who have been orphaned because of Ebola are often stigmatised and have no-one to look after them.

In Sierra Leone, SOS Children has offered to help care for children orphaned by Ebola virus. In Liberia, the SOS Medical Centre gets a surprise visit from the President. In Guinea, medical staff are struggling to convince the population of the danger of Ebola.

In Sierra Leone, nearly 400 people have died from Ebola. President Koroma has declared a national emergency, and the government is taking strict measures to try to stop the spread of Ebola.

There have been confirmed cases of the deadly virus in all but one of the thirteen districts, with the districts of Kailahun and Kenema considerably the worst affected. As a result, these two districts are heavily quarantined, with no movement in or out as controlled by the police and military. SOS Children’s Village Bo is only a 45 minute drive from the Kenema district, so we think it likely that Bo will also be quarantined soon.

The risk for children is high in the Kenema district, and those whose families have been affected are not being adequately cared for. SOS Sierra Leone National Director, Mr. Woode said: “A lot of focus has been put on treating infected adults and there has been neglect of, and a lack of proper care for and attention to infected and/or affected children. I think SOS Sierra Leone could make an impact at this time of dire need. All the children of this world are our children.”

Social Centre, Freetown, Sierra Leone
"There has been neglect of infected and/or affected children"

Ebola orphans stigmatised

SOS Children has offered to help care for 165 orphaned and abandoned children from Kenema district who have lost one of both parents due to Ebola. Care we can provide includes basic amenities so they can survive this crisis. In the longer term we hope to try and reunite them with extended family, or where not possible, find new family homes for them.

These children are particularly vulnerable due to being stigmatised and discriminated against. As a result, surviving relations are not willing to take care of them because they are afraid of catching Ebola themselves.

To help children and families in Kailahun and Kenema districts, SOS Children has distributed basic commodities and materials, including rice, milk, sugar, cooking oil, buckets, cups, toothpaste and soap.

At SOS Children’s Village in Sierra Leone: 

  • All children and young people in our care are safe.
  • All children and staff have been taught about how to prevent Ebola and detect symptoms, and have been given protective materials.
  • Movement has been restricted and visitors have been banned.
  • SOS Schools and nurseries have been closed until further notice.
  • Family strengthening programmes have been suspended, except for the distribution of Ebola medical materials and supplies.

Surprise visit by President of Liberia

Last Tuesday, 9th September 2012, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf paid a surprise visit to the SOS Medical Centre in Monrovia. As the medical workers there struggle to keep up with the demands put upon them by the Ebola outbreak, her visit was an opportunity to congratulate them for their efforts:

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia
President Sirleaf thanked SOS medical staff
for their hard work and gave them dinner!
"I came to say thank you for your continuous hard work and for staying open throughout the crisis. I have heard a lot of good things about what you are all doing at the SOS Medical Centre. We want you to continue the good work. I also came here to find out what you need and I brought something for the staff to eat tonight,” she said.

The President of Liberia then presented dinner for the dedicated staff, who are keeping the medical centre open 24 hours a day. It is one of the few medical facilities in the country open to the public, and able to operate thanks to the provision of protective clothing and materials. All medical workers at the SOS clinic must wear protective clothing while treating patients, to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Over half of all deaths from Ebola have occurred in Liberia, with over 1220 people killed by the virus. In response to the emergency, at all SOS Children’s Villages and facilities in Liberia we have:

  • Carried out awareness campaigns about Ebola, so that everyone knows how to prevent contamination and detect early symptoms.
  • Provided protective clothing and materials.
  • Kept track of any symptoms associated with Ebola.
  • Collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and other organisations to ensure an effective response against Ebola.

Every child to have a daily temperature check

A state of emergency was declared in Guinea at the beginning of August. Yet health workers report that often citizens are unwilling to cooperate and hide sick relatives at home. Despite being the first country where Ebola was detected, not all of the population is convinced of its danger. Many continue to believe that the Ebola information is false and some form of propaganda. This is partly due to incidents of Ebola clustered in certain communities, with other towns and cities completely unaffected.

Thankfully, no cases of Ebola have been reported at any SOS Children’s Villages or facilities in Guinea. Ebola information sessions have been given to children, staff, school pupils and local families. Soaps and disinfectants were handed out at these sessions to reduce the risk of catching the Ebola virus.

Each child in our Children’s Village will undergo a health check, with their temperature taken daily. We have also put in preventative measures, including frequent hand-washing with soap and sanitiser. SOS Schools are closed until further notice, and the SOS Medical Centre remains vigilant.

In West Africa we have been working hard to protect children in our care from the dangers of Ebola. This is possible thanks to long-term support from child sponsors. Learn more about sponsoring a child... 

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