22 Sep Sierra Leonean UBs Respond to Ebola
John Pessima (right), Bishop of Sierra Leone Conference
It all started in May this year when Ebola entered Sierra Leone through Guinea and Liberia. We appealed to Global Ministries for help, so we could do sensitization and prevention training in the Sierra Rutile and Mattru communities, where the majority of the United Brethren schools and churches are located. We targeted our pastors, teachers, and medical practitioners—persons who have large constituencies. We knew that if they stood before their congregations or students and talked about the disease, the information would get around quickly.
We thank God that Global Ministries responded immediately to our cry.
We put together a team of professionals who conducted a workshop on sensitization and prevention of Ebola. This occurred September 15 in Sierra Rutile, and September 16 in Mattru. Altogether, we trained 165 people, who were then instructed to train others in their own communities.
After the two days of training of trainers, participants were provided with a T-shirt, materials on the causes and prevention of Ebola, and a bucket containing medicated soap for their schools and churches (it is now a routine to wash hands with either soap or chlorine before entering homes and public places, including churches). The programs were successful. Participants returned home fully aware of what to do to prevent this virus.
Bonthe district is the location of Mattru Hospital, a nursing school with over 450 students, two high schools, and many primary schools. This district is not too affected for now. As a precautionary measure, the tuberculosis ward at Mattru Hospital has been prepared in the event that it is needed to treat Ebola patients. On September 18, there were 29 current cases of Ebola in the district. However, this only reflects confirmed cases. Many more may exist but have been kept hidden.
The total number of deaths for the whole country is 483, an alarming number that rises each day. We have a moral responsibility as a church to continue with the intervention and to help our people with food and other relief items. Businesses have closed temporarily, churches have suspended services, and schools have suspended classes. Imports and exports have been halted. The crisis is far from over.
Kenema is still quarantined. They need food and other related items which they cannot easily get.
We want to conduct similar sensitization and prevention programs for the members of our various churches in Bo and Freetown, the country’s two largest cities. The virus is spreading quickly because of the influx of people from Port Loko in the north. We are still continuing with our appeal and prayer request for these two conference districts.
We also keep getting requests from our brethren in Liberia. Please don’t forget to keep them in your prayers, as this is a new congregation that is also suffering from Ebola.
As a church, we believe in reaching out to people in need just as our Lord Christ Jesus went out preaching the Good News, giving hope to the hopeless while also healing the sick and feeding the hungry.
Sierra Leone’s economy is down, but we still have hope in the Lord that He will bring this to an end very soon.