The Ebola situation has captured the world’s attention as an unprecedented number of people are dying and the spread of a very contagious disease continues. While the disease is deadly, early symptoms are much like Malaria or other common diseases in the region. Compounding the spread of the deadly disease is fear and beliefs more grounded in witchcraft than germ theory. The fear and lack of understanding of how the disease spreads is exemplified in this recent New York Times report, “…many across the region simply refuse to accept that Ebola is present. Several cases have been recorded here of families entering clinics to snatch away relatives with the disease and not abiding by new rules quarantining households…”* Sierra Leone, a country of 5.7 million people and the size of South Carolina, has recorded highest number of cases, 730, and 315 deaths as of August 9th.**
The growing fear and lack of local understanding related to the disease spread has compelled Dorothea and Garnett, our National Directors in Sierra Leone, to bring 60 additional children into the Transitional Home. Dorothea and Garnett have loved and cared for marginalized children in Sierra Leone for more than 40 years. Their task is large since Sierra Leone is one of the worst countries in the world to be a child.
- The under-five child mortality rate is the worst in the world, with more than 39,000 children dying each year.
- More than 44% of the children are stunted in their growth.
- More than 370,000 are orphaned.
- More than 6,000 children live with HIV/AIDS.
With so much uncertainty, misinformation and limited isolation of the sick, Garnett and Dorothea felt compelled to act and have taken in an additional 60 children to the Transitional Home during the day in order to keep them off the streets and reduce the possibility of any exposure to the disease. We hope you will stand with them to offset this unexpected expense in the midst of the outbreak.