An update on fighting Ebola in Liberia

By Samuel R. Enders, Rotary Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers, New York, USA

Volunteers organized by the African Dream Academy deliver containers of chlorinated water. Photo courtesy African Dream Academy
Volunteers organized by the African Dream Academy deliver containers of chlorinated water. Photo courtesy African Dream Academy

The rate of infection from Ebola in Liberia is slowly decreasing. It is a great joy to sit in my office, which is right next to the main road, and not hear every hour the sirens of pickup trucks transporting bodies to be cremated. It is a sound Liberians have come to know as the sound of sorrow.

Our campaign to prevent the spread of Ebola and save lives is now in its third phase. I am grateful to the board of the African Dream Academy, members of the Yonkers-East Yonkers Rotary Club, friends, and partners who have taken on a leadership role or assisted financially in our efforts. When others did not understand the significance of getting involved, or felt it was too far away for them to deal with, you saw the need for help and responded.

When I arrived back in Liberia in late June, I recognized the country was in a crisis. People were dying daily and health workers were abandoning their jobs for fear of their lives. The reality of the catastrophe became clear with daily news of people dropping in the streets and bleeding to death. Conveys of trucks passed by a few times every hour carrying bodies wrapped in black body bags.

The African Dream Academy took the lead and with a team of 347 volunteers, we delivered supplies and food with a donated ambulance and educated people on how to avoid infection. In the second phase of our campaign, we assembled a team of just under 600 helpers who provided more than 75 communities with gallon containers of chlorinated water, buckets, bleach, food, T-shirts, and counseling.

Our final phase involves 300 people working in 54 communities. Each volunteer is responsible for visiting 25 homes daily. Through contact tracing, we map the entire community to know all of its inhabitants, and then find out who is sick, who has died, who is left, and who is visiting. This helps reduce the spread of the disease and find adequate assistance for those in need. We also quarantine those who are sick or have been exposed to someone infected with Ebola, and provide food, medicine, water, and counseling for each family quarantined for 21 days.

We are slowly winning the battle, however there are three main problems we continue to deal with – lack of medication, hunger, and poverty. Things have gone from bad to worst with the economy; prices are rising daily.

But the success we have achieved could not have been possible without your help. Thanks for giving us hope through your support and guidance.

This post first appeared on Rotary Voices.

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