Photo Credit: Christian Aid
Christian Aid is distributing essential household items to Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone this week as part of an initiative launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to meet Ebola survivors’ immediate needs and help them rebuild their lives.
The two organisations have formed a one-off partnership to donate UNDP solidarity kits to 68 Ebola survivor households in the Bo and Western Area districts. These kits contain food, household items and hygiene supplies to enable those discharged from treatment centres to start afresh, after returning to their homes to find all their possessions destroyed.
Nearly 900 people have survived the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, but they are now being stigmatised and treated as outcasts by their communities as fear of the disease grips the country. Those who become infected have their belongings either burned or disinfected with concentrated chlorine, in order to eliminate any risk of transmission of the virus.
Funded by the UNDP, the solidarity kits include foam mattresses, kitchen utensils, crockery, shoes, fabric, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, female sanitary supplies and laundry powder, together with food items such as beans, sugar, oil, powdered milk, baby food and eggs.
Jeanne Kamara, Christian Aid Country Manager for Sierra Leone, said: “Those fortunate enough to have survived the Ebola virus are left with next to nothing. The joy of surviving the devastating virus is quickly overshadowed by the pain of having everything they own destroyed during the decontamination process.
“In addition to losing all their possessions, survivors and their families find themselves facing stigma in their communities and with little means of rebuilding their lives. Those living hand-to-mouth simply cannot afford to replace all their belongings – particularly in homes where the main breadwinner has died from the virus. That’s why Christian Aid is pleased to partner with UNDP on this initiative, so that together we can ensure that Ebola survivors, who have already suffered so much, can start afresh without the added anxiety of having no clothes, bedding, cooking utensils or food.
“By working through our existing structures and local partners in the districts of Bo and the Western Area, these UNDP solidarity kits will reach those who desperately need our support to get back on their feet. Christian Aid plans to replicate and scale up this work using appeal funds, so that we can reach even more people.”
The project is targeting deprived rural communities and the most vulnerable households, including homes with children under-five and homes with pregnant women or lactating mothers.
Saskia Marijnissen, Programme Manager of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources at UNDP Sierra Leone said: “The Ebola crisis is impacting everybody’s lives, in many different ways. Although they beat Ebola and won back their lives, in many cases the survivors have lost their livelihoods.
“UNDP works together with partners who are on the ground, like Christian Aid, to reach out to the people who survived Ebola with some extra support that can help get them back on their feet. We provide tailored kits to help empower survivors and by doing so, we also hope to send a message that survivors should not be stigmatised and excluded – but instead they require extra support and solidarity.”
Where possible, Christian Aid partners and UNDP are working to ensure that they reach all survivors in a particular locality, rather than servicing larger settlements where only a fraction of the target group can be reached.
If you would like to donate to Christian Aid’s Ebola appeal visit www.christianaid.org.uk/ebolacrisis