Ebola: Fighting While Surviving

GregDuly

Greg Duly

Country Director

Liberia

March 2, 2015

 

SavetheChildren_Ebola_Liberia_Blog_March_2015As I reflect on the three weeks of my assignment thus far in Liberia I continue to be impressed by the dedication and sacrifices made by the Liberian national staff. We’ve had tremendous support from expats who’ve come from all parts of the world but our team is nearly 90% Liberians. Demonstrative of the incredible sacrifice and effort that the country has made. 

Unlike international personnel, these staff have had to “live” the reality of the Ebola epidemic in ways the rest of the world cannot contemplate. Not only are our national staff expected to work each day – and for the first few months of the epidemic this meant working seven days a week and 14 or more hours a day – they have also had to keep their families safe or find treatment for them. Simultaneously fighting the epidemic while being victims of its brutality. 

SavetheChildren_Ebola_Liberia_Kebeh_March_2015

Locals like Kebeh, a midwife in our Community Care Center, make up 90% of our aid workers in Liberia

The entire team has done an incredible job across a number of sectors, addressing the direct causes and problems of Ebola Virus with initiatives such as Emergency Treatment Units, Community Care Centres and Active Case Finding/Contact Tracing] while also addressing the indirect issues such as getting schools in shape for children to safely learn in them and aiding those children who have been orphaned.

Ultimately it will be Liberians who rebuild the country but that doesn’t mean the international community can’t help. I am very proud of the dedication & commitment of our Save the Children colleagues who’ve courageously left their current postings and offered to serve in Liberia, but I am humbled by the wholehearted commitment by our Liberian colleagues who have really stepped up to tackle this dreaded scourge.

To learn more about our Ebola response, click here.

Ebola: Coming to Sierra Leone

DanS

Dan Stewart, Humanitarian Communications Project Manager

Sierra Leone

September 25, 2014

 

The first sign is as you enter the terminal building. A crowd forms around a large bucket of water with a tap coming from it. Every passenger joins, and one by one washes their hands before going inside. As soon as you get close to the water you can smell the chlorine, stronger than any swimming pool.

Welcome to Sierra Leone in the midst of an Ebola epidemic.

The second sign is immediately after passport control. An official points a small plastic-handled device at each person’s temple, looks at it and gives a curt nod, before showing it to the new arrival and waving them through. When it’s my turn I see the digital display reads 36.4 °C. Normal. So on I go.

Ebola is tearing through West Africa. It’s infectious and deadly. This epidemic is killing around half of the people it infects, as though their lives depended on the toss of a coin. Sierra Leone has had over 1,500 cases.

The airport itself is on an island a twenty minute boat ride from the capital, Freetown. It’s 5am and still pitch black as I climb aboard, while rain hammers down and the boat rocks from the wind. From the front seat I can see that visibility is zero. You can only tell we’re moving from the way the boat rears every time we hit a wave.

So much has been said and written about Ebola but there’s still a sense the situation here is equally shrouded in darkness. I know the signs and symptoms and I know the steps to take to stay safe.

But I don’t understand. Not what it has been like for this disease to exert an increasing stranglehold over society, seemingly under the world’s radar. Not what it’s like to weigh up the safety of every journey you make.

As we close in on Freetown it slowly begins to become light and I start to make out the city through the murk, stretching away up the shore. I hope that in the coming days and weeks we can say the same for Ebola and its impact. Demystifying the disease is vital. A lack of understanding, fear and misinformation make the perfect breeding ground. Save the Children has so far trained over 3,000 community health workers who go from house to house explaining how to prevent the spread of the disease.

But this crisis is at a tipping point. There are new cases every day and we have a small window to contain the outbreak. Without a dramatic increase in the international response, cases could reach hundreds of thousands.

The third sign comes every time you meet someone. Hands twitch almost imperceptibly and an awkward look is exchanged. Nobody touches anyone they don’t know well now, not even to shake hands.

These signs are positive – they are necessary to help slow the spread. But there is far worse. Basic services are taking the brunt. Pregnant women can’t get the healthcare they need. With schools closed children are at risk of losing their education and with it the futures they dream of. We must shed light on Ebola – to the people at risk and the world at large – and we must stop it now.

To learn more about our Ebola response, click here.

Sandy Hook Tragedy: Volunteering for Save the Children in Newtown


Lacey-head-shotKristen Lacey, Senior Director, Marketing and Brand Management

Newtown, Connecticut

Decmeber 20, 2012


Working at Save the Children, I thought one day I’d help
earthquake survivors or war refugees in some remote land. I never thought I’d
be part of our relief efforts in my neighboring community.

When Save the Children was called on to help families in
Newtown, there was no hesitation. Responding to requests by community leaders
and the American Red Cross, we sent teams to do what we’ve done around the
world for decades – help children in crisis. 

Kristen and puppy

Kristen cuddles with a fellow volunteer in Newtown. They've both been helping kids cope with the tragedy in their own way.

I’m part of a team that works in our Child Friendly Space in
a large art classroom next to the counseling services in Reed Intermediate
School. It’s a place where kids can be kids again; comforted by trained adults
who can help them open up and give them tools to cope with their feelings.  

What we've done in Newtown is some of the most important
work we've ever done.  We provided
children who were frightened, confused and in some cases not speaking, with a
safe and warm place to play, feel protected and express themselves. 

One child said to me, “I like it best right here”.

We created an
environment where the kids became content and did not want to leave…painting,
playing with play dough, making ornaments, writing on our mural and creating
bracelets brought a calm and peace to these kids, and actually created a
setting they could partially control. 
These kids stepped back into a school in a way that was constructive and
healing, the opposite of what so many experienced that dark Friday in Sandy
Hook. 

As a parent, I also value that we gave parents a reprieve to
get much needed counseling while their children were in good care. 

Save the Children is unique because we can focus 100% on
kids and their needs – that is what we do. 
In Newtown, we provided exactly what the community needed for their
precious children, the moment they needed it.

I am humbled to be part of our volunteer effort. It gives me
comfort that I can help my neighbors in need.

Parents, click to read our 

Ten Tips to Help Children Cope With A Crisis

my
neighboring community