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Ebola – How your donations are spent

When the first deaths from the Ebola virus occurred just ten weeks ago in Waterloo, Sierra Leone, it was impossible to imagine what havoc the coming epidemic would create in everyone’s lives. With movement restricted, farmers unable to get their produce to market, employees unpaid, and the economy in collapse, both money and food are in short supply. Famine is stalking disease.

17 year old old Joseph wrote to tell us that: ‘Financial problems coupled with food shortages are the major crisis. Adults, children, and old people go out onto the streets to beg for food’. With schools closed and our farmers unable to get to their fields, our usual projects are ‘on hold’, our charity has had a change of focus, and is now concentrating on humanitarian relief.

By mid-October the number of deaths in Waterloo had reached about 300, and as the toll continues to double every 2-3 weeks, the number of people in quarantine rises too. The figures are staggering: one street alone has 97 families in quarantine, and about 300 more people in that area will go into quarantine as soon as they have been supplied with food. At the moment Waterloo has no less than 500 families confined to their homes for 21 days, because they have been in contact with Ebola; and those 3,000 people all need supplies to ensure that they do not leave quarantine to search for food, so possibly spreading infection.

Thanks to your donations, our partners in SL have this week delivered a 21 day supply of bottled water and basic food to 400 people, many of them children, in 80 of those quarantined families – rice, onions, palm oil, stock cubes, sardines, sugar and powdered milk. Our partners have made similar deliveries twice before, but now ‘Veronica’ buckets are being supplied as well, to promote hand hygiene and hopefully prevent the spread of infection. The number of homes supplied with food may well increase.

Alieu Mansaray, the Chair of Waterloo Partnership Sierra Leone, has fortunately had training in safety measures, and he takes careful precautions when he distributes supplies to affected families with his colleagues. He has to wear wellingtons, which can be disinfected with a chlorine spray, and washes his hands with either soap and water or a dilute solution of chlorine after each distribution point. Conversations take place while Alieu keeps a safe distance outside the home’s rope cordon. Because he is well known locally, he is often able during the course of deliveries to glean useful information about potential new cases, and deaths that have occurred. It must be very stressful work for all those involved.

These life-saving interventions would not have been possible without very generous donations from Merseyside and beyond.

This epidemic is not going to end quickly, and so we are extremely grateful for all your support.