Rotifunk Leads Unique Community Ebola Prevention Effort

Dear Friends,

I thought I would be writing now to ask your support for Sherbro Foundation Sierra Leone’s girls scholarship fund. With the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, school is indefinitely suspended. Instead, I’m asking for your help on getting Ebola prevention supplies to the rural Sierra Leone area we work with.

CCET Exec. Director Rosaline Kaimbay demonstrates the hand washing station.

CCET Executive Dir. Rosaline Kaimbay demonstrates portable hand washing station filled with disinfectant solution.

In the last two weeks, SFSL has had to shift our focus from education to helping Rotifunk and surrounding villages fight the Ebola epidemic.  A second and bigger wave of Ebola is now moving through Sierra Leone.  Neither the Sierra Leone government nor any NGO’s have reached rural areas beyond the outbreak epicenter with Ebola prevention supplies.  Yet, it’s in these kinds of rural places the Ebola outbreak started.

The majority of Ebola cases continue to be in two areas in eastern Sierra Leone. A national state of emergency was declared last week, and these two areas have been blockaded. Everyone is effectively quarantined in place for 21 days, the Ebola incubation period. Only food, water and essential supplies are allowed in.

This is a necessary public health step to control the Ebola outbreak. But the disease had already started spreading around the country.  People who became sick in the hot spot areas feared they would get Ebola if they went to a hospital. Before the blockades went up, sick people ran to the care of relatives in other districts. Some of these sick people had Ebola and transferred it to other parts of the country, including Moyamba district where Rotifunk is.  This district now has four confirmed cases and fifty being tested.  This is how epidemics spread.  A frontline Scots aid worker describes the many direct and indirect effects the epidemic is having on an already fragile country.

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CCET, our local partner, prepares to deliver hand sanitizing stations.

There’s a misconception that the Ebola outbreak is being managed for the whole country by large nonprofit organizations like Doctors WIthout Borders (MSF). MSF is heroically fighting the battle to save people’s lives already ill with Ebola in the two epicenters, and tracing their contacts for quarantine there. But they are not involved in prevention activities to stop the spread of Ebola in the rest of country. The Sierra Leone Government’s actions have been limited to reactive steps and mainly within their fragile health care system; not preventive steps across the country.

Sherbro Foundation is equipping Rotifunk and surrounding villages with portable hand sanitizing stations.  This deadly disease can surprisingly be killed with soap and water and hand sanitizers.  People are being trained to frequently wash their hands, especially when in public places like markets, churches, mosques and health clinics.

Hand washing station delivered to the health clinic waiting area.

Hand washing station delivered to health clinic waiting area.

Rotifunk, like most of the country, has no running water.  There is nowhere to wash hands.  Preventive steps like hand sanitizing stations in public places are not set up in rural towns and villages outside the two Ebola hot spots.

SFSL sent money last week to set up over forty hand sanitizing stations like this one and a supply of disinfectant. Our Rotifunk local partner, the Center for Community Empowerment & Transformation (CCET)informed us today they need to reach more villages and have more disinfectant to go around. Prices on buying these portable sanitizing stations have gone up 50% in the last week, as goods are in short supply.

CCET Executive Director, Rosaline Kaimbay informed me today they are being seen as unique in Sierra Leone with this kind of grass roots community-led effort on Ebola prevention.  While towns across Sierra Leone are still waiting for Government and NGO assistance, they are taking charge on the fight against Ebola.

It’s understandable that limited resources are first going to the epicenters of the emergency.  But unless towns in the rest of Sierra Leone like Rotifunk are equipped for preventive actions to fight Ebola, the epidemic can continue to spread across the country – and beyond.  More lives will be lost.

Time is of the essence. Can you help stop this tragic epidemic for the cost of a dinner out or one concert ticket? To donate online, just click here: Donate   We accept all major world currencies. To send checks, contact us at sherbrofoundation@gmail.com.

You can help even more by passing this on to a friend.

Thank you!

Arlene Golembiewski
Founder & Executive Director

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