Coping with Ebola
During the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak, our priority has been to keep the children in our care safe. The children have remained in the Village to reduce the risk of infection, and we have closed our school and nursery to prevent the virus from spreading. Education has continued within the Village. We are maintaining strick hygiene precautions and limiting the number of people entering the Village. We are also providing food, advice, disinfectant and protective equipment to help keep local families safe.
Across the affected countries, we are providing care and support to Ebola orphans shunned by their communities. Find out how your support could make all the difference.
Bo is Sierra Leone's second city, and a major transport, commercial and educational hub. Like other parts, Bo is still struggling to move on from a civil war which left more than 50,000 dead and 2 million more displaced.
The government have made huge strides in tackling unemployment and corruption, but poverty continues to affect the people of Bo. As in other parts of the country, Ebola has taken its toll on overstretched healthcare services, further entrenching problems associated with poverty.
Children afflicted by poverty
An estimated 70% of people in Sierra Leone live in poverty. That's no different in Bo. The government is working hard to improve the country's economic future by tackling some of the illegal mineral exports. Youth unemployment is another problem, and many young people – some of whom are former child soldiers – are struggling to find work and are forced to accept low-paid menial jobs.
Families displaced by the war left behind not only their homes, but their relatives and support networks too. So often, they are unable to find and rebuild their former communities, and are often unable to find new work or housing because they lack the necessary paperwork. Crime is rising too, with young unemployed people becoming increasingly frustrated. Many former child soldiers turn to substance abuse to try cope with the atrocities they witnessed. Mental healthcare is non-existent in Sierra Leone.
The importance of rebuilding community infrastructure
Improvements to infrastructure and social services is an essential to getting communities back on their feet. Much of the vital infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war but there are projects up and running which aim to restore electricity supplies and access to clean drinking water as well as building new roads.
Infant mortality and maternal deaths in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the world, due to poor health services. In 2010, there were just 200 doctors serving the entire country. This has left Sierra Leone woefully ill-equipped to deal with the ongoing Ebola crisis.
How do we help?
We have been working with the residents of Bo since 1983. During the civil war, we helped support refugees seeking safety in Bo. We also provided emergency relief to many families.
When a child loses their parents, we welcome them into an SOS family at Bo Village, where they are cared for by an SOS mother and where we support them on their journey to independence.
The SOS nursery caters for children from the Village and the local community who then move up to the SOS primary and secondary schools. We offer vocational training in subjects such as textiles, catering and secretarial skills to teach young people the skills they need to work. When they leave the Village, we help them find housing and work as they move on to the next stage in their lives.
Huge leaps forward have been made but with almost half of the population of Sierra Leone under 15 years of age, children still need our support.
Sponsors like you give children with nobody another chance to flourish. Will you sponsor a child in Sierra Leone, and give them the childhood they deserve?