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Churches bringing hope to Goma as Ebola virus spreads

Officials confirmed the second death in the city of Goma yesterday, which has a population of two million people.

Approximately 1,700 people were killed in the region over the last year, making this the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.

Tearfund DRC Programmes Director, Hebdavi Muhindo told Premier's New Hour the people of Goma are in shock.

He said: "The situation in Goma as of today is that there is fear, there is panic, there is devastation and people are worried about what will happen now that the virus has reached Goma.

"People just cannot believe that it's been one year and the virus has not yet been contained," he said.

Mr Muhindo went on to say how the Church has been responding to the crisis.

"In the middle of that fear and all the problems that are happening the good news is that there is hope as well that we are seeing, and the hope is coming like a light in the darkness, through the work that the churches are doing to intervene in this situation."

Christian charity Tearfund have been working with local communities there to help prevent the infection spreading.

482 faith leaders have been trained in Ebola prevention and vital water, sanitation and hygiene facilities have been installed at vulnerable sites.

Mr Muhindo said: "It will take the whole community working together to bring this to an end. As well as faith leaders we have been bringing together representatives from across Butembo society to discuss the issues facing the community and improve dialogue and trust so that Ebola prevention messages and practices can be more readily accepted.

"Pastors are spreading vital advice on washing hands, seeking medical help at the first sign of symptoms, and issuing guidelines on how to handle dead bodies, to curb the spread of disease. Communities are rallying - some congregations are coming together to buy enough bleach for everyone in their church to maintain hygiene and where we can, we continue to provide better access to clean water."

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