Young Life Africa Helping To Integrate Ebola Survivors Into Communities
By Varney K. Sirleaf
Young Life Africa, a US faith based International Non Governmental Organization (NGO) is doing a great work in the fight against the deadly Ebola Disease which has taken more than 7,000 lives in West Africa.
The Regional Director for West Africa Mr. James S. Davis II said his organization is working tirelessly to help de-traumatize people who were once affected by the deadly virus but survived and now have to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the communities they came from.
He said the organization first approach was to help the government to sensitize communities through community mobilization to observe the preventive measures outlines by the Ministry of Health, and was also engaged in contact tracing and surveillance for people who were exposed or came in contact with suspected and confirmed Ebola patients.
In furthering the process, he said his organization distributed hand wash buckets and disinfectants to several high schools, universities and communities in Liberia as well as assorted food items, medical drugs, etc. to families who were quarantined.
“We have also been reuniting and reconciling the survivors with communities that have discriminated against the survivors,” he said.
He stated that young people were mobilized in their various communities to gather information about suspected Ebola cases to have them reported to the relevant authorities.
Mr. Davis further narrated that in the first weekend of December, 2014 the organization had her first ever camp for 117 young people who survived the deadly disease.
“We brought survivors from Grand Bassa, Bong, Margibi and Montserrado Counties to the camp where they were able to have fun and once more have a sense of belonging,” he explained.
He said some of the survivors after the camp were able to be reunited with their family members and love ones, while some of them have lost all of their families to the deadly disease, but they were happy because they have survived a tedious battle.
“There were great testimonies told by some of the survivors. Some are now being converted into Christianity because according to them, it was only God who brought them from Hell,” Mr. Davis narrated.
Young Life West Regional Director stated that the organization is undertaking the same initiative in Sierra Leone as is being done in Liberia.
Mr. Davis recorded how difficult it was to imagine that people will survive this deadly epidemic and one day have fun.
“In October, when people were dying all around us and bodies were left in the streets and nobody was allowed to gather or even shake hands, I never could have imagined that we would be having a camp in December; a camp full of Ebola survivors,” choked up, “But it happened. It is a miracle. Only God could have done that. With tears of sadness and joy and smiles of hope, 117 Ebola survivors boarded buses on Monday and said goodbye to the Ebola Survivors Camp,” Mr. Davis joyously explained.
Lorpu, one of the survivors who lost her family of six people said she has started a life at the camp.
“My life started anew right here and now,” 19-year-old Lorpu said.
She survived the virus after spending the “worst days of her life” in the Ebola treatment center where she saw dozens of people die daily. “But these are the best days ever. I have a new family now,” she concluded.
“Every staff person and leader I talked to after the camp fumbled to find words to convey the power of the weekend; it was like no camp ever. Not even close. And we’ve had many, many great camps. Like no camp ever,” Area Director Zinnah Yallah struggled to explain.
He concluded by saying that his organization braved the storm during the ravenous days of Ebola when he entered into communities where families were quarantined to give them hope.
He is noted for his hard work and dedication to the betterment of the lives of the people of his country, demonstrating good leadership ability something that even prompted the INQUIRER Newspaper to Award him as the INQUIRER Student Leader of the year Award in 2010 when he served as the President of the graduating class from the University of Liberia that year. Currently, he is the President of the University of Liberia Alumni Association. Also, a group under the banner of Liberians for Democratic Advancement recently presented him a certificate of award for his immense contribution in the fight against Ebola in Liberia. In January 2015, the Russian Television named Young Life and few other organizations in Liberia in a documentary as Ebola Warriors.
Recently, Mr. Davis paid a visit to neighboring Sierra Leone to meet with Young Life leaders who are also buttressing government efforts in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in that country.
According to him, over 27 participants from different regions in that country were trained by Young Life to help to eradicate the disease.
“The people of Sierra Leone are hopeful and resilience to kick out Ebola out of their country”, he said.
He said that he is looking forward to the day Liberia will sent experts to help other countries. But Mr. Davis also quick to warn that Liberians should not be carry away by the positive news in Liberia, stating that Liberia and Sierra Lone share the same cultural values and traditional practices, therefore people should be careful and observe the preventive measures outlines by the Ministry of Health until the Mano River Region is free from Ebola.