By Rianna Mohammed-Roberts
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis ended more than a year ago in Liberia. It resulted in over 10,000 cases and 5,000 deaths. For many children, the crisis continues through intrusive memories of illness, isolation, and death. These memories are particularly acute for the children directly affected by Ebola; those that were quarantined, separated from family during treatment, or orphaned. The Liberia Ministry of Health (MOH) identified 3,091 such children, and a World Bank working paper calculated that approximately 4,200 Liberian children lost one or both parents to Ebola.
Protective factors, such as a nurturing family life, dependable relationships, school attendance, and a stable political environment, can mitigate the negative psychological effects of a crisis, like Ebola. During the crisis, many of these protective factors were destroyed, leaving children vulnerable to experiencing further trauma. Left unaddressed, trauma can hinder children’s academic achievement, and can increase their risk of compromised mental health later in life. Both of these consequences are known risk factors for poverty.
Recognizing the importance of addressing children’s trauma, the Ebola Recovery and Restoration Trust Fund (EERTF) funded the implementation of a Comfort for Kids (C4K) program. The C4K program encourages psychological healing, and promotes resilience in children who have experienced a crisis or disaster. It was developed in the wake of September 11, 2001 by Mercy Corps, an international non-governmental organization, and has since been implemented following natural disasters in Haiti, China, and Japan; and in post-conflict and refugee settings in Gaza, Jordan, and Lebanon.
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Source: World Bank