SIERRA LEONE: Food Aid Helps Ebola Orphans Thanks to Partnership between Salesian Missions and Stop Hunger Now
(MissionNewswire) Fortified rice-meals have been donated to Salesian programs in Sierra Leone to help feed orphans of the Ebola epidemic thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Stop Hunger Now, an international relief organization that provides food and life‐saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable.
The rate of Ebola in Sierra Leone is on the rise with the number infected with the virus each day nine times higher than it was two months ago, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO data in early November shows that there have been 4,862 cases of Ebola with 1,130 deaths in Sierra Leone alone. Transmission also appears to be increasing rapidly in Freetown, the capital city, where the average number of daily cases is six times higher than two months ago. The WHO says Ebola transmission remains widespread and intense across West Africa including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus has so far infected over 13,000 people and claimed at least 4,951 lives.
Starvation is a concern in the affected countries. A new bulletin on the economic impact of Ebola from the International Growth Centre (IGC) has warned that the number of rice traders in some areas of Sierra Leone affected by Ebola has fallen by almost 70 percent. According to reports from Salesian aid workers in the field, local markets have been shuttered and many farmers have died. Children who could previously count on at least one meal a day at Salesian schools are left hungry because schools have been ordered closed by the government in an attempt to contain the outbreak.
“Because of the Ebola health crisis, the price of food has risen in some areas and many people are at risk of starvation, especially orphaned children who are no longer in the care of their parents and other relatives” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The partnership with Stop Hunger Now allows us to feed those most in need and provides us other necessary supplies to help prevent the further spread of Ebola.”
The most recent shipment of emergency food aid has allowed Salesian missionaries to provide meals for more than 150 poor youth three times a week. Many of the children relying on the food aid have few options to turn to for meals and are very hungry. The lack of proper nutrition has left them susceptible to getting sick and at a faster rate. Salesian missionaries are also providing education about Ebola and medicated soap for preventive measures.
The Salesian Missions partnership with Stop Hunger Now was developed in 2011 and since that time, 58 shipping containers, including more than 16 million rice meals, have been successfully delivered to 19 countries around the globe. Recent Stop Hunger Now shipments have provided food aid and emergency medical supplies to Salesian missionaries working to help Ebola victims and their families in Sierra Leone and Liberia. These donations provided an avenue for educational workshops about Ebola prevention and preparedness.
Salesian-run Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations, has been on the forefront of the efforts to help prevent Ebola in local communities and provide care for those children left orphaned. Promoting the welfare of children has remained a top priority for staff at Don Bosco Fambul as they work to tackle issues affecting street children, in particular educating them on Ebola prevention. Social workers from the organization have been meeting with homeless children on the streets of Freetown in the evenings while other staff offer group counseling, mediation and family tracing services in an effort to return children to their relatives. Following the outbreak of the disease, Don Bosco Fambul has provided much-needed items for children affected, including those living in quarantined homes.
“There are more than 1,560 children in quarantine because they have lost their parents or because they have been rejected by their families,” says Father Crisafulli, provincial of the Salesian province of English-speaking West Africa. “They are children who have experienced trauma such as the loss of family members, have been discriminated against, separated from their families and in some cases, accused of being the cause of evil. Although Salesians remain focused, it has not been easy to start a center for children orphaned by Ebola.”
Headquartered in New Rochelle, New York, Salesian Missions has launched an Ebola Emergency Fund to assist Salesian missionaries in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone who are working to help contain the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. To raise money for the fund, the Catholic nonprofit aid organization has launched an emergency fundraising campaign and is issuing an urgent appeal for donations. Go to www.SalesianMissions.org/ebola to give.
International Growth Centre – Economic Impact of Ebola