Survivors and those that have been rendered orphans by the Ebola Virus Disease in the worst hit county of Lofa, are pleading with the government of Liberia, through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, local and international Non-Governmental Organizations and philanthropists, to help them re-establish their lives.
The survivors and orphans, under the name “Ebola Survivors and Orphan Association of Lofa (ESOAL), which reportedly has membership of over 300, said that they had been hard hit by the outbreak of the virus, thus rendering their lives pitiful and difficult.
Lofa County, where the Ebola virus initially crossed over to from neighboring Guinea early this year, was considered the epic-center of the outbreak in Liberia after hundreds of people lost their lives and several others became orphans. Though the county is on the verge of being pronounced as a zero case zone, the virus has left many scars behinds, some of which need immediate attention.
Speaking to newsmen on Monday October 20, at the Air Strip in Foya Lofa County, the heads of ESOAL outlined the difficulties that members of the organization are presently facing. These have now compelled them to seek external help in order to relieve the pains that they are undergoing, especially after losing their loved ones and coming through a rigorous recovery processes.
The head of the organization, Anthony Fayiah, appealed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, INGOs and NGOs for what he termed as basic support, such as food, clothes and shelter, as some of the homes were burnt as a means of containing the spread of the virus in the county.
Mr. Fayiah also called for the provision of opportunities for members to further their education through scholarships and others means, as some of them no longer have the means to go back to school when the schools are re-opened. This is because they have lost their parents and sources of income.
“This is a very serious situation for us. We want to call on the President, the government and its international partners as well as other well meaning Liberians to come to our aid because most of our members have been rendered vulnerable as a result of the outbreak.”
“I am a survivor of the virus, which I contracted through handshaking. It has not been easy for us. I’m looking at my situation but I’m deeply worried about the many children that have been orphaned by Ebola.”
Most of these children, between the ages of one to eighteen, lost all of their parents and have no opportunity to live a decent live anymore, the ESOAL boss said, disclosing further that all of the orphans are members of the organization.
“So we are urging our government and these international organizations to come a help some of our children. We don’t know what the future holds for them now, but these are Liberian children and there is a need for them to be supported and given opportunities like all other children,” he said.
The members of ESOAL are also calling on government for them to be placed in the national budget, as most of them no longer have means to sustain themselves, indicating that every other hope of livelihood has been lost.
Another survivor, Tamba Kullie, who is also an orphan, stressed that the most terrible experience he had ever faced has been this Ebola. “I lost all of my people. I lost my father and mother and all of my brothers and sisters. As of now, I have no immediate relatives. I’m an orphan now and have no means to sustain myself as I have lost everything. Sometimes I sit and cry endlessly. It is very difficult to understand.
Mr. Kullie, 16, said the only focus he has now is to obtain a scholarship and focus on his education in order to build a life for himself, He added with faith and confidence, “I know with God Almighty above, all is not lost. Though I lost all of my people and everything, I still know that I can live a better life when I’m able to obtain a scholarship and go to school.”
“As members of ESOAL, which is really catering to some of us, we want to call on government to intervene and come to help us. I’m really in need of their support. Most of our members are children like me and we are vulnerable.”
The regional Director of the Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for the Africa Zone, Alasan Senghore, said that the Red Cross has a post- Ebola plan that has to do with catering to children orphaned by the virus, though he indicated that more support is needed.
Meanwhile, President Sirleaf’s visit to Lofa was in continuation of her assessment to the Ebola situation in the country. She used the opportunity to hold discussions with community leaders on the essence of working collectively to contain the virus. She also met with healthcare workers in the county and encouraged them to continue to exhibit commitment in the discharge of their duties.