100 ‘Ebola Orphans’ Appeal for Support

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About 100 “Ebola orphans, along with their guardians, yesterday gathered before the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection asking for support from the Liberia government.

The orphans are presently sheltered at the Taffi Dollar Children’s Welfare Center in Disco Hill, the Roberts International Airport highway in Margibi County.

Speaking to journalists, Mr. Julius S. Jarwou, Principal of Abundant Life Chapel (ALC) School, which is currently caring for the children, explained that more than 75 percent of the children, who totaled 140, were seriously affected by the Ebola virus disease and need support from the government and philanthropists, to survive.

The children, who are survivors and orphans, had originally come from Dolo Town and surrounding towns within the Firestone concession area before they were housed at the welfare center. All of them had placards with different messages written on them.

Joshua Karngar, one of the orphans from Dolo Town, told newsmen that he lost more than 20 members of his family, including his father, mother, aunts, uncles and siblings.

Another youth, Bendu Dumbai, lost at least 13 members, including her father and mother, to the deadly virus.

James Garmonyou from 72nd Community, where the Ebola case that landed in the United States originated, lost at least four members, including his father, mother and two siblings. His father had come in direct contact with the pregnant lady who was helped by Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who took the virus to the US.

Mr. Jarwou, the ACL school principal said, “For the last four months, ALC has been taking care of the children affected by Ebola. We are here to appeal to the government because their guardians or caretakers have said they don’t have the means to care for the children of their relatives who lost their lives to the virus.”

According to him, the government, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, had informed the welfare center’s director, to return the children back to their “aunties and uncles,” so that the government can send support to those homes for the children.

However, Principal Jarwou further stated that the guardians of these children have told ACL they can’t take the children back because they won’t be able to provide the necessary support the orphans have already gotten used to over the last four months at the welfare center. Most guardians said they are faced with serious financial constraints.

One of the grandmothers, who had come along with her grandchildren to plead with the Ministry, speaking in broken Liberian English said guardian don’t trust the government.

The grandmother, who only called herself Ma Annie, said if they take their children home, the government might support them for two or three months and then stop the support but if their kids are at the ACL, they would be cared for throughout.

Bendu Dumbai, who lost 13 of her family members to the deadly virus presented the children’s concerns to the Deputy Gender Minister for Administration, Mr. Peter Roberts, who came along with Mrs. Lydia Mai Sherman, Deputy for Children and Social Protection.

Dep. Min. Roberts assured the children, guardians and Abundant Life Chapel (ACL) that he will ensure that their plight is addressed.

From the Ministry, the orphans and their caretakers, marched up the road to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

After waiting in the sun for a while, with their placards high up in the air, asking that specialized UN organ to help address their plight, UNICEF ushered them and their guardians into the compound.

The UN staff served the children cold water and soda and promised to liaise with the relevant government agency to address their plight as it doesn’t offer support to individual institutions. It can only do that when such recommendation comes from the government.

Meanwhile the director of the Taffi Dollar Children’s Welfare Center, Rev. Wilmot Yarlatai, has disclosed to the Daily Observer that every penny spent over the few months on the children’s upkeep has come from his “own pocket and not someone supporting the home.”

He thanked Dr. Creflo Dollar and his Creflo Dollar Ministry (CDM) in the US, for helping to construct the facilities and hoped that the CDM, too, will provide funding for the children’s upkeep in the future.

Rev. Yarlatai’s clarification comes as some believe that the home and the children are being supported by Dr. Dollar in whose wife’s honor the center is named.

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