The tiny edifice of the Christ Kingdom Harvest Church located in the New Georgia Community was a scene of sober reflection and the revelation of heroism yesterday when church and community members along with government officials and members of the diplomatic corps gathered to add another dimension to the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
The occasion was the “Ebola Must Go” campaign, which was launched by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The edifice and community were chosen for the occasion for a more significant reason — their exemplary role play in the fight against the Ebola scourge.
The church congregation sang and danced to the famous choruses, “We are more than conquerors. Greater is he that is in me and victory is my name,” etc. One might wonder what might have prompted the original authors to pen these songs, but the community and Liberians in general, have reasons to sing as EVD is now receding after several calamitous months. Victory is indeed their name as they are yet to report new cases in the past three months.
Though Ebola is yet to be finally eradicated from the country, success stories have begun to emerge and the New Georgia community stands out amongst many, owing to the early measures its leadership put in place when the area was initially hit by the virus.
When the first few cases were reported, the entire community was in disarray, but the community in collaboration with the church quickly formed a strong partnership to better manage the crisis.
A community taskforce was formed; people began to move from house to house with the message and identifying and getting out the sick, consoling and caring the infected. These things (community residents) did with their own resources and efforts.
The community chairman, J. B. Walker Dennis, said the community was hard hit in August with 12 persons dying, though five were actually confirmed Ebola cases. It was predicated upon this that the community decided to take action to ensure its safety.
He said since the formation of the taskforce and the rigorous exercises of awareness and identifying the sick, when the family of 17 was also quarantined, the infection rate began to decline. Mr. Dennis said presently the community has eight survivors.
Though the community lost about 12 persons to the virus, it could have been more if they had not stood up as a united force to combat the virus.
The government and international partners, specifically United Nations Mission Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER) have hailed the community and church’s significant contribution to the fight.
These were specifically hailed for their heroic efforts for putting in place their own stringent measures that have led to the safety of the area for the past three months without new cases.
They have also been lauded for embracing the Ebola survivors, caring for families in quarantine homes and finding a home for six children who lost their parents to Ebola, with the church at the forefront of these initiatives.
President Sirleaf lauded the community for its heroism, and noted that Liberians need to take responsibilities in their communities if Ebola is to be eradicated from Liberia, as this community has done. “Follow all of the preventive measures; keep sick people away from others. Speak out if you know that someone is sick.”
She said Liberians have made great progress in stopping Ebola, but “we know that the disease is still in our country. We all have to intensify our efforts to travel that difficult, very difficult last mile.”
“I heard someone say to go from hundred to ninety is hard, but to go from ten to zero is even harder. Through our efforts, the disease has retreated into places that are hard to reach.”
“This is why I’m joining this community that has been such a strong group in fighting Ebola. We are launching it in a place that has made the difference. So the banner says stopping Ebola is everybody’s business.”