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Christian charity delivers food to ebola survivors

The two organisations have formed a one-off partnership to donate UNDP solidarity kits to 68 Ebola survivor households in the Bo and Western Area districts.

These kits contain food, household items and hygiene supplies to enable those discharged from treatment centres to start afresh, after returning to their homes to find all their possessions destroyed.

Nearly 900 people have survived the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, but they are now being stigmatised and treated as outcasts by their communities as fear of the disease grips the country.

Those who become infected have their belongings either burned or disinfected with concentrated chlorine, in order to eliminate any risk of transmission of the virus.

Funded by the UNDP, the solidarity kits include foam mattresses, kitchen utensils, crockery, shoes, fabric, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, female sanitary supplies and laundry powder, together with food items such as beans, sugar, oil, powdered milk, baby food and eggs.

Aminata Fofanah, 25, lived with over 10 members of her family in a two-bedroom house in Freetown's Waterloo suburb.

Her mother became ill, and like many families they initially tried taking care of her at home. Believing that it wasn't a case of Ebola, all the family members did what they could to support her. Neighbours close by also visited her from time to time.

After approximately two weeks, Aminata's mother died. The case was reported to the authorities and the house was quarantined.

During this quarantine period Aminata lost 17 members of her family, including her husband. She and her two children are the only survivors.

Aminata, like many other Ebola survivors now faces discrimination and stigma in her community: people are afraid of her and have refused to accept her and her children. They have even refused to continue buying goods from her petty trading business.

Aminata is now concerned about how she and her children will survive. "Life has become unbearable for me: no-one to turn to, no-one to support me and no family to depend on. My world has fallen apart," she said.

Jeanne Kamara, Christian Aid who's partnering with UNDP in Sierra Leone, said: "Those fortunate enough to have survived the Ebola virus are left with next to nothing.

"The joy of surviving the devastating virus is quickly overshadowed by the pain of having everything they own destroyed during the decontamination process.

"In addition to losing all their possessions, survivors and their families find themselves facing stigma in their communities and with little means of rebuilding their lives. Those living hand-to-mouth simply cannot afford to replace all their belongings - particularly in homes where the main breadwinner has died from the virus".

"That's why Christian Aid is pleased to partner with UNDP on this initiative, so that together we can ensure that Ebola survivors, who have already suffered so much, can start afresh without the added anxiety of having no clothes, bedding, cooking utensils or food."

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