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Soap, chlorine and plastic bags: The fight against Ebola in Liberia is about ordinary things

Finn Church Aid is implementing Ebola awareness programme in Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. The work is organised in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, where FCA’s regional office is located.

  • FCA is distributing hygiene and basic necessities to Liberians, who have been trained in increasing awareness on Ebola. FCA’s Monrovia office’s driver, David King, and the security guards have been irreplaceable in helping acquire and distribute the materials. In the photo they’re counting buckets and water taps, which will be distributed to the area 10 of Monrovia.

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  • ”If you want Ebola to go away, you must wash your hands”, the participants of Mother’s Club are singing in Buchanan, Liberia’s third largest city. Mother’s Club is run by FAWE, FCA’s local partner. The mothers have composed the song themselves, and added a choreography in which instructions on washing hands is performed.
    Photo: Leena Lindqvist

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  • One of the mothers is telling about how Ebola has affected her life and community. The fear is palpable, when mothers and Buchanan’s regional leaders share their experiences. The psychological impact has been severe in the city.
    Photo: Leena Lindqvist

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  • Alicia Bkallon, 27, is learning how to protect herself when treating patients. Admission to hospital, especially in the rural areas, is very difficult. They often do not have appropriate supplies either. Therefore it is crucial, that the volunteers and community members know how to protect themselves while tending the sick. In the photo Bkallon is demostraing how to use plastic bags as rubber gloves.

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  • Schools remain closed, except when they’re used to give Ebola awareness training to volunteers. When the schools are closed, children spend the days by themselves. Usually they spend time around schools. In this case, they learned a few things on avoiding the Ebola virus.

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  • Emmanuel Sandi, FCA’s Programme Coordinator, was showing good hand washings methods with the help of a volunteer. In order to prevent Ebola, washing hands with chlorine has become mandatory in all public places in Liberia; schools, shops, offices and administrative buildings.

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  • Anaïs Marquette, Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, is helping a volunteer from PNO, FCA’s local partner, to stick FCA’s stickers into buckets, which are distributed in Kakata area. In addition to buckets, chlorine, soap and posters and t-shirts on Ebola are distributed in Kakata, in the county of Magrib.

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  • The distribution event of hygiene materials held in the end of October in Kakata village was attended by approximately 70 villagers, PNO’s staff, community’s spokesperson, religious leaders, UNICEF’s local staff and the representatives from Magrib county’s health work group.

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  • Ma Bea, PNO’s Executive Director, gave the opening speech at the distribution event in Kakata. The speech was recorded and broadcasted live in four local radio channels.

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  • Village children learning how to wash hands effectively.

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  • An Ebola prevention poster at SLPP’s office in Grand Cape Mount. The poster shows the main symptoms of Ebola and how the disease is spread. It also shows how to protect against it. Work to ending Ebola has become the main focus of NGO’s. Other issues like violence against women or protection of forests and wildlife has had to move to the background. This can be seen concretely as the Ebola poster is covering other posters on the wall.

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FCA shares information about Ebola with the help of 60 trained volunteers in Liberia. The volunteers work in 200 communities in five counties. They will go door to door and increase awareness on Ebola’s characteristics and distribute hygiene materials. FCA’s local partner organisation SLPP has organised an additional training for 30 volunteers.

Increasing awareness is the most effective way to stop the spread of viral disease, especially in regions where health care facilities are insufficient.

Text: Anaïs Marquette and Satu Helin
Photos: Anaïs Marquette and Leena Lindqvist