THE TOLL OF EBOLA ON NATIONAL STAFF
Ebola has been spreading in Sierra Leone like a bush fire and now covers all 14 districts in the country. The impact of EVD on this beautiful country is as disastrous as the virus is itself to the human system.
Not only has Ebola killed more than a thousand people, but also thousands more have been infected, many children have been orphaned, the health system has been drained and the economy has been severely impacted, especially the agricultural sector. Efforts to contain the crisis resulted in the Presidential declaration of a State of Emergency that includes but is not limited to quarantining the epicentre and suspected homes, and curtailing all public meetings and gatherings with the exception of Ebola related events.
Everyone has been affected in one way or the other and as such, our lives have been dominated by fear, the fear of being the next victim or fearing our loved ones, family members, friends or colleagues will be next.
Save the Children’s intervention in Sierra Leone started just when the outbreaks occurred in neighbouring Guinea and Liberia and focused mainly on prevention and preparedness sensitization trainings with Community Health Workers (CHW) and Community Health Officers (CHO). But alas! The outbreak here was confirmed in May this year and Save the Children has been on the forefront of this response, giving support at different levels- at the national, district, and community levels. Colleagues have been vigilant, working tirelessly like frontline soldiers to ensure Ebola is defeated in Sierra Leone.
Perhaps the peak of our intervention is the running of the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) now operational, providing much needed care to people infected with EVD. “… A momentous occasion for Save the Children and our ability to provide front line medical assistance during an acute humanitarian emergency,” said Rob MacGillivray, our Country Program Director.
However, coping with trauma in our emergency response operation has been a very challenging moment for all staff. Already a good number of our colleagues have lost their family members in all our three offices. Usman Lahai, the Education for Youth Empowerment Program Officer, lost his mother and 15 other family members to Ebola. “It was too much for me to bear. I have lost so much to this dreadful virus. This really disturbs my focus on anything I’m doing for the moment but Save the Children and my colleagues have been with me all the way. That is why I am back to work.” said Usman.
A good number of other colleagues like Eliot Fayia, Mary Quee, Isata Mansaray, and Morrison Jusu also lost their family members and is going through a similar ordeal while continuing to work on the Ebola emergency. We are all deeply affected by the epidemic. We share the same fears surrounding Ebola but it is with great courage, love for our country and work that keep us fighting EVD in Sierra Leone. We are committed to kicking Ebola out of Sierra Leone.
Thank you to Save the Children Management team for being so concerned and supportive of the welfare of staff at this crucial moment. The stress management training for staff has been a very useful consideration by the management – a kind of bulletproof vest in tackling the Ebola Virus Disease.
Last month, Senegal and Nigeria, two countries that had also experienced an EVD outbreak, were declared by the WHO Ebola free. I suppose everyone now is `longing for that moment when Sierra Leone too will be declared Ebola free!
I imagine how it will sound. It will be like a very big shout of joy. A joy for things returning to normalcy, of children being able to go back to school, a time when we can return to the things we used to do, like handshaking, hugging, the list goes on and on. I just can’t wait any longer to see this happen- it could be tomorrow or next week or soon after and we are now determined more than ever to make this happen! Ebola can be beaten.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
SAVE THE CHILDREN IN SIERRA LEONE.