A group of women engaged in farming and small businesses across Liberia have described how the Ebola epidemic has affected their living conditions and increased their responsibilities due to the deaths of family members. The women say they now have to care for the many children who have become orphans.
Speaking during a one-day meeting hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with women’s groups in Kakata, Margibi County, Annie Woeyea said, the women have to cater to the children of brothers, sisters and other family members who died from Ebola.
Annie Woeyea, is from Quadu-bonu District in Lofa County, one of the areas worst hit by the deadly Ebola virus in Lofa County.
She said, “We are taking responsibility for children from one-year upward who lost either one or both parents or other close relatives to the disease. You cannot see your brother or sister’s child and other family members and not care for them,” said Woeyea.
According to her, the added responsibilities of caring for Ebola orphans has caused the breakdown of businesses and regular farming activities since the outbreak of the virus, making it difficult to survive and fully care for the orphans.
“We are also worried about how to re-establish ourselves so we can take care of the children and their schooling as well.
“If we are empowered,” said Madam Woeyea, “they will receive the proper care from us. We cannot, however, take care of these children if our businesses and farming activities are not functioning and everyone is waiting for papa to come first. But in most cases, papa will not come because Ebola has taken him away.”
She called on the FAO and other international bodies to help the women to re-establish themselves in order to improve their living conditions.
According to her, the women were no longer feeling the pride they had before the outbreak of the Ebola disease, saying, “We are not doing anything again. Regular farming activities are no longer taking place.”
“We were taking loans from other organizations and we are not paying back and carrying on our farming activities. Ebola has caused us to use our business money. We still have money for some of these organizations and are no longer able to pay back,” said Madam Woeyea.