Christian World Service has launched an appeal to support church and community efforts to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Churches in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are playing a critical role in countering the virus. Trainers have been trained to reach people with clear information and practical advice using an experienced group of educators already working in communities. The World Health Organisation has identified community engagement as one of the key mechanisms for preventing further infection and asked for the assistance of the World Council of Churches.
ACT Alliance trained workers are answering questions, providing pastoral support and distributing chlorine supplies to kill the virus. The appeal will help fund psychosocial support to Ebola survivors and their families, break down the stigma associated with infection and provide food items to quarantined families and communities.
“People are afraid and they need to know how to stop the virus spreading further. Churches are a trusted part of the community and can pass on accurate information as well as distribute food safely to people in quarantine. Please support them in this vital work,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.
In Sierra Leone some churches are adapting church practices, for example placing their hands on their hearts and bowing rather than embracing when passing the peace. Churches are developing alternative funeral rites where no body is present. The human body remains toxic in death. Hand washing facilities are available at the entrance of churches. Church leaders are working with mosque leaders to protect their communities from the virus.
In affected countries many people are unwilling to seek medical treatment for fear of contracting the virus. Existing clinics are struggling and need protective equipment and money to pay their staff. After losing five nurses to the virus a few months ago, the Phebe Hospital operated by an ACT Alliance member in Liberia has opened a fully-equipped isolation unit and is treating patients again. The Curran Hospital is also being equipped against Ebola.
There is widespread economic hardship in the region with many markets closed. Families have been left without food and some have been compelled to break quarantine to get something to eat.
The WHO reported a total of 10,141 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal) up to the end of 23 October. There have been 4922 reported deaths.
Donations to the Ebola Response Appeal can be made:• On line and by direct deposit• By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72• By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
Christian World Service has been doing a world of good since 1945. It works with local groups in 20 countries who are making change happen so people can live a life free from poverty. CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), a global coalition of more than 140 churches and church related organisations that work together in the areas of humanitarian assistance, advocacy and community development in 140 countries.
28 October 2014