Monday November 24, 2014
Across the country, the deadly Ebola virus outbreak has left thousands dead and many children parentless.
Today, our Ebola response team is out to visit Clara Town, a community in Monrovia which was hard hit by the Ebola virus. Hundreds lost their lives in this community. We are taking emergency food and sanitation supplies to orphans who lost their parents to the virus.
As we arrive in Clara Town we encounter a bustling crowd which seems to deny the toll of the deadly Ebola virus. We make our way down a pot-hole ridden dirt road, looking for signs of the intersection where we need to turn off the road into a small cul-de-sac where the family where are here to see lives. We are here to see a family that’s caring for three Ebola orphans.
As soon as we pull into the family yard, a large group of children gather. They stand, watching, fascinated by the ActionAid pick-up truck. When our team begins to unload the food supplies from the truck, their faces light up with excitement.
We are greeted and welcomed into the family home by Ma Hawa. She introduces herself as the aunt of the orphans; their mother was her sister. After she welcomes us in, she introduces us to her older sister, Zoedwa.
Before I can ask for the children we are here to see, a shy little girl, wearing a striped green and white sundress, with her hair in an African braid style, peeks out from behind Zoeduwa’s skirt. When I ask her for her name, she replies, “Old Lady”. She is just seven years old. Her older brothers, Adbullah and Ibrahim, were both out at the time of our visit. The three children had lost their parents in September 2014, when the Ebola outbreak was at its peak.
My colleague, Jestina Kanneh, steps up to present the supplies to the family. As she hands the items over to Ma Hawa and Zoedwa, she tells them that the donation, carried out under our emergency aid response plan, was to help the children and the family as they cope with losing their parents and loved ones to the horrifying Ebola virus disease. Zoedwa is almost in tears as she thanks us for the support and concern shown to her orphaned niece and nephews.
I look at little Old Lady’s face as she happily struggles to lift the large bag of cornmeal we brought. There is a look of joy on her face that is indescribable.
As we leave the family home, I cannot help but feel some sadness mixed in with my gladness. We have made a difference for one family today, yet many more still need our support. I am reassured only by the knowledge that we at ActionAid will continue to do all we can to support as many as we can.