The good news is, Liberia has been declared Ebola-free. The other news is that in Sierra Leone, the Ebola epidemic is far from over. The spread of the virus has slowed, but there are still thousands of children and adults living with the devastating results of the disease.
Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and other West African nations, according to WHO, and UNICEF estimates that 16,000 children have lost one or both parents to the virus creating the need for additional orphanages.
Because of the fear and stigma surrounding Ebola, many orphans are left to fend for themselves. And those whose immediate family members have been affected or who have been put in quarantine because of suspected exposure may be shunned by their communities.
In the midst of the ongoing struggle, the church in Sierra Leone continues to respond.
The Ebola outbreak is making it hard for people to access basic needs, including meals. Food prices have skyrocketed during the crisis. In response, the church is distributing food to the most vulnerable through a partnership with Convoy of Hope.
The distribution accomplishes a dual purpose: helping those who can’t afford food and helping those who can’t access it due to quarantine. Food has also been taken to orphanages, hospitals, and schools, including a school for blind children and a school for deaf children. The church has also taken food into especially impoverished neighborhoods where where people are struggling to make ends meet.
This church’s work to distribute food has not gone unnoticed. Local and national television and radio stations in Sierra Leone have been doing stories to spread the word.
In addition, the church continues to reach out to those affected by the stigma of Ebola. Quarantined individuals and their family members are ostracized from the communities they were once a part of. Local churches have been working to fight that stigma and minister to those who are actively quarantined through a campaign called “21 and Free,” a reference to the fact that someone is declared Ebola-free after showing no signs of infection after 21 days.
“God is taking us to new levels,” says Rev. Vidal Cole, who serves as a pastor and district superintendent in Sierra Leone. “Thanks so much for your love, support, and prayers.”
CAPTION: In this video, women celebrate the arrival of food for those in need and pray God would bless it and use it to meet needs.
To learn more about or support the church’s efforts to address the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, visit ncm.org/ebolarelief.