Ebola reached Freetown in September 2014. The team at LNP have responded flexibly and diligently, catering a number of programmatic responses towards meeting the needs of an Ebola stricken community.
Caring for Ebola Orphans
LNP have taken in their first two children orphaned by Ebola, committing to provide loving care, a home and an education until they become independent. LNP are currently extending the home building in order to cater for another 45 – 50 Ebola orphans in the near future.
Establishing an Ebola Community Care Clinic
East Freetown is one of the worst affected areas right now. One month ago Prince Tommy Williams, LNP Deputy Director, gathered a group of community leaders in Eastern Freetown to discuss the lack of Health Care available for Ebola victims in the local area. The community leaders responded, asking LNP to take the lead in developing an Ebola Community Clinic.
We responded quickly by securing a plot of land with local authorities, digging a soak-away pit and building a basic clinic structure. This caught the attention of a number of international health organisations and NGOs, including the WHO, Medair and Oxfam. who offered to partner with us in order to build and manage the clinic. The clinic opening ceremony was held on 5th Januray, and is now receiving and treating patients.
Supporting Quarantined Families with Essential Supplies
In early October, as more and more Ebola cases started emerging in Kuntorloh, LNP saw there were local people still moving around the community who were living in homes where someone had died from Ebola. Tracer teams, burial teams, WFP and police, who together were to force households into quarantine if a member of the household has died due to Ebola, were not able to coordinate sufficiently.
So we approached some of these households in partnership with community leaders and encouraged them to stay within their home for 21 days. We are providing everything they need so they don’t need to leave their home during this time; food, water, fuel and other necessities, in addition to counselling and support services.
To date, the LNP Ebola Response team have provided over 1,600 people with the essentials that they require to stay in quarantine and prevent the spread of the disease. The families' health is monitored carefully, and household members with reported sympotoms are tested for Ebola quickly, and treated accordingly.
LNP designed an Ebola sensitisation programme, and the team have been targeting churches in Kissy, Wellington and Waterloo, teaching about how the disease is spread, how to prevent it, how to identify the symptoms and where to seek treatment. They move from community to community educating small groups of people in any available local hall, with the aid of a projector and a PA system. Video/film clips are screened and followed with explanations, after which Q&A sessions are held in order to ensure the people have a clear understanding of how they can help themselves and others.
Due to the current restrictions on large gatherings, and in order that we can reach a wider audience, the local radio has been used to deliver the teaching sessions and phone-ins are used for the Q&A sessions.
These have been well received by the communities. The demand for the team to visit communities is increasing daily and one stakeholder from Wellington said: “We have more than 32,000 people in our constituency who need this kind of education”. The team of 47 have reached over 31,000 people through more than 100 different community groups so far, and this number is increasing each week.
Members of the National Emergency Response
LNP were invited to be part of the Social Mobilisation Pillar of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) which is coordinating the national response to Ebola crisis. Alongside government bodies, the UN and other international NGOs, Nehemiah staff have been able to give advice and suggestions, especially communicating about how to remain safe to the people who doubt government announcements, which have been adopted by the EOC.
Filling Gaps in Information
LNP noticed that one of the biggest problems involving the virus was that the government was struggling to answer questions and meet the gaps in information in local communities. LNP devised a short drama which was played over the radio. Actors played the roles of a sceptic, a religious leader and an expert discussing Ebola, which represented views on the ground with the opportunity for people to call in to the radio station and ask questions. It was so well received that a number of communities requested the drama to be performed live around their local communities. LNP trained others, including religious leaders whose voices are respected, to deliver the performance.
International News and Communication
The BBC World Service asked to conduct daily phone interviews with some of the Nehemiah boys, to show the impact of the 4 day Ebola Lockdown on the ground. The programme was aired in the UK on 29th September, on BBC Radio 4. Listen here to 'Inside the Ebola Lockdown'.
During the Lockdown, the Nehemiah boys used their skills and creativity to communicate the dangers of Ebola and spread awareness, through songs, raps, poems, performance and stories. Listen to 'The Ebola Rap' by James Brown, one of the guys at the Nehemiah Home.
Two of the young leaders from the home, Rick K Lassie and Augustine Momoh, both of whom are nurses in training, also volunteered in the three day, house-to-house Ebola sensitisation programme.
LNP are delighted to be taking an active role in helping people to understand the truth, to acknowledge the reality of Ebola, and to be equipped to take preventive measures in their lives.