The Africa Alliance of YMCAs stands in solidarity with our YMCAs in Liberia and Sierra Leone and their people as they continue to struggle against the deadly onslaught of Ebola. We have been deeply saddened by the spread and the fear that has gripped the nations.
In Liberia, the YMCA is focusing the Act2Live Youth Health Initiative on this deadly disease as peer educators from Liberia YMCA have been travelling to schools, market places and video clubs to raise awareness and prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, while leadership under Edward E Gboe have been involved in national awareness and sensitisation.
During one radio interview, Liberia YMCA Programme Director, Timotheus Kamaboakai, made some bold statements around the reaction to Ebola in the country. Here follows an excerpt from the show:
« Generally, people have moved from denial to fear. It is important that we adopt the right messaging so that people do not panic, but can be aware of the measures they can employ to keep themselves safe. This epidemic has paralysed our political and economic systems with many government workers now on compulsory leave, NGOs scaling down on activities, borders and markets near borders being closed, bustling urban centres being calm because people are trying to avoid crowds. Many young people live on daily chores and with this trend, the livelihoods of many people will be challenged in an already downward economy. The sooner we unite to kick Ebola out, the sooner we can get our lives back again. Young people should play leading roles in creating awareness in their communities. Government should enhance its response measures, establish a call centre to provide advice, support or referrals of issues reported. There should be efficient response to cases reported and incentives provided for health workers and young people to volunteer in assisting with recovery and burial of victims. We should be opening more health centres instead of closing them. Our health workers were not prepared for this and are taking the wrong approach out of fear. The Ministry of Health should ensure that they are adequately trained to differentiate Ebola from other illnesses with similar symptoms, and that they can provide care and support for people who go for medical attention. »
In Sierra Leone, the YMCA is also working hard in partnership with government and development agencies. The Sierra Leone YMCA is airing radio jingles to raise awareness, and peer educators will be trained this Saturday to work with communities. Of particular interest, the YMCA is working on a partnership with the motorbike riders association to conduct education and provide soap and water to community members. Further, NGS Christian Kamara reports:
“Ebola has brought us all together to enable us to fight a common enemy and as a nation we should be resilient to fight the Ebola Epidemic in the same way we fought the Rebel War and stood out as a united Country. We have lost lives and some families have been wiped out whilst some communities are greatly affected. As a youth serving agency we have decided to work alongside the Government and other development partners in raising the awareness and sharing the right information to our communities through the radio, TV and our peer educators and do encourage people to immediately report any case in the community to the nearest health centre. We have also provided soap and chlorine to certain communities that are most vulnerable. Our efforts will continue until we are able to eradicate this viral Disease out of our country. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation with MSF have provided more protective gears for health workers as they tend to have lost more personnel including the only virologist we had in the country.
It will be great if the right and positive messages are aired and shared and also if people could cooperate and ensure that those affected are not kept at home but rather taken to the hospital for early treatment and that health officials should ensure that laboratories and epicentres are opened in most communities to avoid taking people from one community to another. We currently have only one laboratory in the country to serve a population of 6 million.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow YMCA brothers and sisters and their country people as they deal with this shocking outbreak and the heartache it is causing. We remain ready to assist in any way possible, and we urge our YMCAs around Africa, and indeed the world, to do the same
Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary, AAYMCA
Ekow Rhule, President, AAYMCA