In March 2014 the painful and deadly Ebola disease appeared in Liberia and in mid July 2014 it strongly hit the entire country causing huge death casualties. The fear within each resident of Liberia became a paramount concern.
The government of Liberia encouraged everyone to join in, in the fight against Ebola. Preventive tips and awareness flyers were distributed around the country and workshops were conducted to share information about the disease and how to prevent its spreading. The Liberia Ministry of Health also established a coordination unit. The fight against Ebola through awareness and preventive measures became a main assignment for all civil society groups in Liberia. Also international institutions in Liberia including Doctors Without Borders and WHO became active.
The IDEFOCS – Action10 Ebola Prevention Campaign
During the early stages of the spreading of Ebola throughout Liberia, there was a serious doubt among the population about the actual existence of such a disease in the country. Due to this doubt, which also created a negative perception towards the information shared by the Liberia government and the Liberia civil society organisations, the Ebola virus spread widely. In order to actively support the Liberia government action plan, and stop the rapid spreading of the virus IDEFOCS in partnership with Action10 launched an Ebola awareness and preventive measures campaign. The campaign was launched in mid June 2014.
The campaign holds by Action 10 and our local partner IDEFOCS in the ghettos
The campaign specifically addressed our targeted partners in the three ghetto communities were we are running the “reintegration of former child soldiers” program. But when IDEFOCS went to the ghetto communities to initiate the campaign, they found that there no more exist ghettos in these locations. IDEFOCS then learnt that the government of Liberia have given the police mandate to raid every ghetto around the country. The government did not offer an alternative settlement location for our Target partners. This was very unfortunate according to IDEFOCS and Action10, as by doing the environment became more unsafe for the previous ghetto inhabitants. Thus, instead of offering our Target partner a home, an employment, medical and rehabilitations programs, the Government actually chased our Target partners away from their ghetto environment. This behaviour is in fact expected to make other communities more unsafe in terms of crimes and violence.
IDEFOCS realized that as we wanted to cooperate with the previous ghetto communities’ dwellers we were force to accept the fact that their communities were no longer ghetto communities. Therefore in order to share the supplies and education we had prepared for the ghetto inhabitants, the IDEFOCS Action10 program must find and address the new communities where the Target partners were now staying.
Thus, ten new communities were identified; seven in Monrovia and three villages in the rural Grand Bassa County (Compound one, Little Bassa and Kpainh Town). Through workshops and awareness raising events we gave our contribution to the fight against Ebola. (It shall be noted that the number of communities was restricted to ten only to mirror the funds available. With a larger budget we had included more communities.)
Eight persons were hired to run the campaign. Both men and women were hired. IDEFOCS-Action10 provided training for the staff on the origin of the Ebola virus, the danger of the disease and on how to protect oneself, the family and the community. The training had a hands-on component, addressing how to make the protection measures in actual practice. The training also offered a physical illustration describing the origin of the Ebola virus and the danger of the disease.
After the training of the staff they went together with the IDEFOCS team to the ten communities and shared the knowledge with them. The prevention measures were demonstrated together with the participants in actual practice, for example the washing of hands each time re-entering the community from the outside. After the training each participant who had attended the training became an educator in promoting safety measures against Ebola in their own homes. IDEFOCS – Action10 also provided the materials required for the protection; chlorine, soap, water buckets, water barrels and gloves for each of the ten communities.
The IDEFOCS – Action10 Waste management Campaign
We decided to combine the Ebola campaign with the implemented the waste management program in the three ghettos, that had been agreed on prior to the Ebola outbreak. Thus, the campaign also provided wheel barrels, shovels, ricks, raincoats and rain boots. And we set up a management structure so that materials can be properly managed in the three targeted partners’ communities.
The campaign was proven robust and very successful. A very large amount of the communities’ dwellers choose to attend the campaign exercises. The participants were eager to learn about and to understanding the mechanism of the spreading of the Ebola disease. They were also eager attend and support the fight against the virus. The success was also measured as the campaign brought together people from all over a particular community. The people got united around the issue of prevent the community against Ebola. IDEFOCS-Action10 it truly excited about the exercise as it yielded such positive results.
Having completed the EBOLA awareness and safety campaign IDEFOCS-Action10 see a number of important follow-up measures:
- Create a community cell block on the education and prevention of the Ebola virus
- Address Little Bassa, where we are building the Reintegration Center
- Extend the awareness to other communities
- Share the information through radio