SIERRA LEONE: Don Bosco Fambul Receives Sierra Leone’s Presidential Award for Its Efforts in Fighting Ebola Epidemic
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations located in Freetown, the country’s capital city, has been on the forefront of efforts to help prevent Ebola in communities throughout Sierra Leone and provide care for children left orphaned by the deadly epidemic. The organization recently received Sierra Leone’s Presidential Award in recognition of its contribution in fighting Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there were more than 14,122 total cases of Ebola and 3,955 deaths from the virus in Sierra Leone alone. During the Ebola outbreak, Don Bosco Fambul mobilized its staff and immediately began providing information about the prevention of Ebola. Salesian missionaries worked with local communities to provide food aid and education about Ebola while disseminating protective clothing including long-sleeve shirts and cleaning and disinfecting agents such as chlorine.
In addition, the organization provided 20 mobile hand washing basins fitted with taps and hygiene-related products to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs for use in Freetown. Brother Lothar Wagner, director of Don Bosco Fambul, noted that the mobile hand washing basins were placed in strategic locations around the city to act as a reminder that good hygiene practices are some of the best methods to prevent the contraction of the Ebola virus.
Since 2010, Don Bosco Fambul has provided a countrywide phone counseling service. The organization began advertising its free hotline as a preventative defense against Ebola in May 2014 and youth were encouraged to call to access critical information about the virus. Since that time, more than 25,000 calls about Ebola have been answered and fielded. The data gathered as a result of the calls helped the country’s national registration office identify Ebola hotspots and crisis regions. The head of Don Bosco Fambul’s telephone counseling department maintained permanent contact with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Social Affairs as well as the Ebola command center. In addition, food deliveries were organized to the quarantine zones identified by these calls. Through the hotline, Don Bosco Fambul brought hope to the children and adolescents of one of the poorest country in the world during a terrible time of crisis.
Don Bosco Fambul, with assistance from the Catholic non-governmental development organization, Manos Unidas of Spain, also transformed a school into a home for 120 boys orphaned by Ebola. This unique care center for orphans on the Don Bosco Fambul campus meets the children’s basic needs while providing schooling and education on health and hygiene. Precautions around health and hygiene, including a focus on preventative measures, are extremely stringent since the orphans have all been in contact with people infected by Ebola.
Youth who do not have extended family to go to are able to stay long-term at Don Bosco Fambul, attend school and participate in activities such as music, dance and organized games. Counseling is also available to help them successfully transition into adulthood.
“Salesian missionaries live and work in the communities in which they serve so they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis as they did during the Ebola epidemic,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In addition to all of the Ebola related services, Don Bosco Fambul was still able to continue all of its regular programming providing education and social services to children and families who live in poverty.”
Providing crisis intervention services, long-term counseling, shelter, nutritious food and an education, Don Bosco Fambul reaches out to an estimated 2,500 street children in the region each year, many of whom have been abandoned by parents, the government and those who were supposed to protect them. Don Bosco Fambul staff are also active in providing services to young prisoners at the Pademba Road Prison in Freetown.
Don Bosco Fambul has also been running a Girls Shelter for the past two years. Here, professional social workers and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been victims of sexual assault. Girls that access the shelter’s services are also able to attend educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network.
WHO – Ebola Stats