15 Ebola Survivors Get Cash to Start Businesses

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Fifteen survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease are now putting the horrors of the virus behind them to start their lives afresh, venturing into meaningful activities that would help rebuild their lives.

Medica Liberia, (formerly Medica Mondiale), a local non-government organization (NGO), through its After Ebola Assistance Project, on Tuesday provided cash assistance to 15 survivors to help them establish businesses.

Each of the beneficiaries, four males and eleven females, received US$250.

The head of program, Josephine Tengbeh, said the cash is intended to help them reestablish their lives and there is no better way to do this than through entrepreneurship.

“We want them to do their own businesses; this is why we decided to provide this little cash for them to start. We want them to get involved in something that will bring their dignity back,” she said.

“They lost everything. Some of them lost their entire families and their stories are so heartbreaking and we felt that we could not let them go just like that without any assistance,” Madam Tengbeh said.

Throughout the Ebola crisis, the organization provided psychosocial counseling to victims of the outbreak, said Yah Parwon, assistant to senior management, disclosed.

“We have been working with them for a period of time now and we know that they are truly in need of assistance,” she said.

She indicated that the organization worked with the survivors for over nine months.

“Many of these people lost their breadwinners. The psychological damages caused by the virus are still visible in them, but our psychosocial team really did a good job. That’s why you see most of them have now recovered,” Ms. Parwon said.

She hoped that the beneficiaries would make very good use of the cash to help them get back on their feet.

“Their stories have always broken my heart. I share tears whenever I hear each one of them explain their ordeal, it is so painstaking. But I pray that God will take them through,” she noted.

Psychosocial counselor Florida Clarke also noted that in spite of the psychosocial help offered the survivors; there is the need for the institution to follow it up with financial assistance.

“Because this is how it works. When you deal with the minds, it has to go with empowerment and I highly appreciate this initiative,” she said.

The beneficiaries lauded ML, which they said has always been there for them-providing them food and material supports during the crisis. They promised to do their best to ensure that the cash help them rebuild their lives.

Sampson Kanuway, an Ebola survivor and a carpenter who has now decided to establish his shop on the Old Road, was very happy when he received the cash. “I really want to be grateful to the organization for this help.”

Mr. Kanuway, who previously learned carpentry through apprenticeship at his uncle’s shop before attending a vocational school, said he has always thought of establishing his own shop but had never had the support.

Madam Tengbeh also taught the beneficiaries some business skills that would help them become successful in their businesses. She taught them how to be focused, time conscious, flexible, realistic and fair in dealing with their customers and fellow business people.

The organization has been working with over one hundred Ebola survivors during the crisis, but decided to choose the 15 because they were in dire conditions.

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