Awareness training and support for Ebola affected communities
The grave effects of the Ebola epidemic on society in Sierra Leone are complex. The country is one of the poorest in the world, even before the outbreak of the disease, marked by civil war, severe poverty and hunger. However, the biggest problem that Ebola-affected regions face is supply of food and medical aids, as well as lack of information on the to date only remotely known disease.
At the beginning of the epidemic, Rugiatu Turay, director of our partner organisation AIM, immediately instituted first emergency measures. Employees of AIM provided over 150 households with food and medical supplies during the first three-day curfew in September 2014. The acceptance of the community was enormous, so Rugiatu trained another 200 volunteers, wo then went to surrounding villages in order to educate people on Ebola. Furthermore, thanks to the support of PfefferminzGreen, an educational brochure with pictures on how to protect oneself from the virus, as well as what to do after infection could be produced and distributed in hundreds of villages. In the following months, AIM supplied thousands of people with drinking water and rice, especially those that live under quarantine in confined spaces with large families. At this stage, the significance of local helpers when it comes to acceptance within the communities became clear. Villages cooperated with each other and helped Rugiatu and her team with the identification of new cases of Ebola infection. It was especially important to provide affected families with psycho-social support in order to eradicate some of their fears, as many families go so far as to hide their relatives, for one due to concern but also due to incomprehension.
AIM also developed a relief program for Ebola survivors, helping them to return home to their village community, but also offering support with the numerous complications the affected reported of in the following weeks.