LIBERIA: SHALOM Adolescents Lead Fight Against Ebola

Ebola has today become a global threat; and hence a problem that can be solved with a holistic and global approach. Ebola is a disease that has created awe and panic in the world, given that like – how HIV/AIDS disease is contracted from sexual contacts, there is yet no cure for it. The present curative medicine is inadequate and at an experimental level.

Liberia is one of those countries in West Africa that is hard hit by the deadly Ebola virus with neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea being the other two Mano River Union (MRU) countries, as they are highly affected by the disease thus causing thousands of people to die. It is estimated that nearly 5000 people have died of the disease with over 2000 of that figure from Liberia alone.

A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) SHALOM, INC. which has been providing humanitarian services to the Liberian people over the period of time is among those NGOs that are presently in the front line fighting the deadly disease through awareness and sensitization.

SHALOM INC. has felt the need to ensure that the disease is eliminated in Liberia. They have amalgamated forces with other international organizations in sensitizing the Liberian people on how to take the necessary preventive measures outlined by the Ministry of Health authorities in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

SHALOM, which means Serving Humanity with Affection, Love And an Open Mind, will particularly be remembered for the successful creation of the awareness campaigns on the killer disease in four communities within the Borough of New Kru Town on Bushrod Island.

Under a UNICEF sponsored program that is implemented by SHALOM Inc., some sixty adolescents, mainly females under the ages of 10-19 were trained intensively by UNICEF and spread out in every hook and corner of the four communities to convey the sensitization messages to the dwellers of the four communities on the preventive measures.

Some of the sensitization messages that were spread to the dwellers include: the constant washing of hands, avoid touching one another, avoid eating of bush meat and bats, avoid touching and bathing dead bodies and avoid the touching of sick persons. The four communities covered by these adolescents are: Point (4), Popo Beach, Central New Kru Town and Colonel West.

Of the 280 girls that received intensive training from the UNICEF, 60 of them were immediately dispatched in the fields to carry out the awareness exercise. The 60 adolescent volunteers who are also referred to as Peer Educators, learnt how to approach community dwellers to explain to them in a friendly manner about the existence, that there is no cure for Ebola and that it is a disease which has greatly surprised the entire global medical community.

While performing their assignments, the adolescent volunteers are properly attired in their Personnel Protective Equipment (PPEs) which include rain coats, rain boots and hand grooves to protect themselves from rain and sun and the body fluid of people affected with the virus.

It was explained that the symptoms and signs that a person is affected by the disease are: fever, severe headache, diarrhea, vomiting, blood-spilling through the eyes among others.

Statistics obtained from the four communities indicated that on October 3, 2014, over 200 households in Popo Beach/Point Four and Carpet Street communities were reached; while on October 10, 2014 over 400 households were talked to. And on October 17, 2014 in the Central New Kru Town/Trowin and Lagoon communities 222 households and on October 24, 2014 in Colonel West and Central New Kru Town, over 139 households were also visited and sensitized on the dangers associated with the deadly Ebola virus.

Speaking to our correspondent, SHALOM Inc., Executive Director, Madam Pate K. Chon, said her institution has since been involved in the provision of humanitarian services to the Liberian people including the holding of series of psychosocial workshops on HIV/AIDS.

She said SHALOM is implementing the Ebola sensitization and awareness campaign within the Borough of New Kru Town as their way of contributing towards the global fight against the deadly virus that has claimed the lives of thousands of people in Liberia and the sub region.

Madam Chon, an experienced social administrator with several years of hard work, has called for the collective effort of Liberians and the larger community to join forces in the deadly virus fight.

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