LIBERIA: Traditional Leaders Honor Global Communities Head for Fight against Ebola

(PHOTO CAPTION:Piette deVries, Staffer & Traditional Leaders;he was named Chief Zanzan Kawah

Traditional leaders in Liberia have bestowed honor on the Chef of Party of Global Communities, Piette deVries for his entity's response to the fight against the Ebola virus and his engagement with traditional chiefs across the country during the fight against the pandemic.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders during the honoring ceremony Sunday, Chief Momo Kiazulu of Grand Cape Mount County noted that through the hard work of Global Communities and its Head, traditional leaders got a clear understanding about the fight against the Ebola virus.

Chief Kiazulu asserted that the role played by Mr. deVries in the fight against the Ebola virus will ever be remembered because he helped in restoring the hope of the traditional leaders.

"Whenever you wear this gown, no matter where you are, we will always be with you” Madam Fetta Saah Chairlady of Traditional Leaders, stressed.

Mrs. Saah disclosed that traditional leaders did not get a clear understanding of the role and the motive behind Global Communities work, until Piette deVries and team started to engage them.

She further said the messages that were spread by Global Communities about the preventive measures against the virus, brought about trust.

Mr. deVries was named Chief Zanzan Kawah for his tireless role played in the fight against the Ebola virus and his engagement with traditional leaders during the peak of the outburst of the Ebola virus.

Responding after been gowned by the Traditional Leaders, Piette deVries thanked them for the level of cooperation received from them in the fight against Ebola.

Mr. deVries praised them for gaining trust in him and helping to spread the messages about the Ebola Virus.

Following the honoring ceremony, an exclusive interview was conducted with the outgoing Chief of Party, by the WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia.

Mr. deVries  described the fight against the virus and the Community Led Total Sanitation program as an incredible and challenging experience.

He said with all of these challenges faced by his entity during his tenure, tremendous progress was made in the fight against the Ebola virus, especially in safe burial and the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) program.

Mr. deVries said the CLTS initiative carried out by Global Communities in areas where the entity operates has gained momentum in rural communities.

He also disclosed that communities declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) did not experience the transmission of the Ebola virus.

Mr. deVries however said there is an ongoing studies been conducted by Global Communities to find out more information about why Open Defecation Free Communities were not hit by the Ebola Virus.

The outgoing Chief of Party who is expected to take on a new Assignment as Senior WASH Technical Advisor in Washington D.C. also thanked the Ministries of Health, Public Works, Internal Affairs and WASH R&E for the cordial working relationship.

During the fight against the virus in the country, many believed that the virus was spread by individuals wearing the protective gear or white suits.

Because of this, many international organizations responding to the fight against the virus met stiff resistance from traditional leaders Global Communities is no exception, especially in the south-eastern part off the country.

During his tenure as Chief of Party, the concept of cross border surveillance for Ebola respond was introduced and carried out.

The concept of cross border surveillance strategy focused on involving communities’ leaders, health authorities and local government in combating the virus in their respective communities.
The initiative is part of Global Communities' USAID funded project Assisting Liberians with Education to Reduce Transmission (ALERT) Program.

The ALERT Project has supported burial teams in the country and also empowering county health teams to effectively respond to the Ebola virus outbreak and building the capacity of health workers.

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