Scores of female Ebola survivors who are beneficiaries of a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) funded psychosocial support project have expressed mixed reactions upon hearing news that the project is coming to an end.
The UNICEF funded project, titled, “Resilient Boosting for Children affected by EVD,” is a six month project that is implemented by two local organizations, Renewed Energy Serving Humanity (RESH) and Play to Live (PoL) with a US$196,000 grant. It comes to an end of this month.
According to the supervisors of the survivors, Jessica T. K. Sampson, the project has helped to reignite the lives of the survivors, who are referred to as Project Associates (PAs), especially psychosocially, after their horrible experiences in the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) in the country.
During an experience sharing retreat at a resort in Monrovia, she said survivors were recruited and trained by RESH to provide Play and Therapy Services (P&TS) to children affected by the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The children, 857 in number, were placed into four categories; child survivors, those who lost their parents, and others living in communities that were heavily impacted by the EVD. This project, she said, “has made us one big family. We have gotten so used to the children and with each other that we now consider ourselves as one family.”
She said the project has been great not so much for the money they were receiving, but the close bonds that have been created during the course of the project.
“Some of our colleagues were neglected and discriminated against after they came out of the ETU, but we all have found solace in this place and found new bonds of friendship after some of our friends suffered rejection. We have found peace of mind and we cannot just see this coming to an end.”
She said when they came out of the ETUs, some of them were constantly indoors crying, grieving over the horrible experiences they had been through, but the project brought some sense of relief to them.
She pleaded with UNICEF for the continuation of the project, adding, “We want this project to continue so that we can have more impact on the children. Some of them lost their parents and became resentful and were traumatized but we have done a great job with them and they are responding positively. So if this comes to an abrupt end, we will not get the kind of results that we want.
RESH founder and executive director, Ernest G. Smith said, “We all know that during the height of the crisis and thereafter, children’s development was hugely affected, with some of them losing their parents and others living in communities that were heavily affected. Children could not play any longer and we all know that play is an integral part of every child’s development.”
RESH has also worked with 400 parents, of which 160 have been effectively trained under the project. “They were trained in child rights, child rearing and trauma awareness,” Mr. Smith, who described the project as successful, RESH Program Director, Praising Johnson said.