About a month ago, my colleague Solome Lemma and I started looking at the international response campaigns to ebola in West Africa and got to wondering why all the attention was on international governments and NGOs. Very little of Africa’s front line efforts to stop the spread of ebola is visible in Western Media and as a result, very little material support is going to these organizations.
The only organization working in Liberia that I was personally connected to was Africare, so I reached out to find out what their efforts were and what was needed. In the meantime, Solome reached out to her network or organizations that needed help in the area.
Long story short, we identified four community organizations working on the ground in Liberia in dire need of assistance. THINK, HOPE, FACE Africa and Africare have been at the forefront of the response from the start.
Here’s a little about what each organization is focusing on during this crisis:
- In addition to supporting families with food and cash assistance, Africare will work with community stakeholders in Nimba and Bong counties to improve prevention, identification, and monitoring practices. Africare will also launch messaging campaigns in partnership with local community and government leaders, adapting Ministry of Health and WHO resources so they are easily understood. The messaging campaigns will focus on non-contact communications like radio, television and visual media such as billboards, print materials, and fliers.
- Working directly with the Rivercess County Health Team, FACE Africa will target all 8 districts of rural Rivercess County and reach roughly 3,000 households through social mobilization programs focused on prevention and infection control at the community level. It will also distribute hygiene kits, train its local WASH Committee to assist in county efforts to trace and monitor active cases of EBV using the Ministry of Health guidelines and provide a stable supply of personal protective equipment to frontline responders in the county.
- In addition to providing families with food and sanitation kits, HOPE’s emphasis is on equipping community leaders with appropriate knowledge and tools to conduct first response and ongoing support to quarantined and at high-risk communities. HOPE will coordinate and train networks of community leaders in Montserrado, Grand Bassam and Bom counties to spread prevention education and identify at-risk and active cases for monitoring and psychosocial support.
- THINK will use the support to found a transit center for children and adolescents affected by the virus that houses them for the advised 21-day period of observation to diagnose Ebola. Then, it will facilitate referral to treatment or integration into foster families. THINK will train foster parents and alternative care providers. It will provide food and cash assistance, and conduct regular monitoring visits to facilitate the transition.
We cannot forget that, while supportive, it is ultimately not the CDC or experimental drug companies that will overcome the disease. We, as Africans, have to break the mentality that responding to crises on our continent is the mandate of the international community. The four organizations above represent a small part of Liberia’s civil society responding to this crisis. Supporting them will play a major role in helping the country strengthen its health infrastructure.
The virus has done a lot to reverse gains in Liberia’s health infrastructure. Over 500 workers have lost their lives in service to saving many in their communities in West Africa.
It will be Africans themselves who win this war on the ground. With proper support and resources, the Community Health Workers on the frontline can stop the spread of Ebola, local economies can recover, and families can heal. Let’s empower them to do it. Please DONATE to Africa Responds today. Give what you can–$100, $50, $25, $10 or $5–all levels of giving make a difference.
I want to challenge Africans and friends of Africa to step up to the plate and DONATE to this cause. If you believe in African agency, then step up to the plate and DONATE. It is because I find our role as Africans in this response extremely important, that I will be dedicating the next few week talking about our efforts. If you want to help in any way, let us know. But first, PLEASE DONATE.