USAID Pumps US$290K in Recovery Plan for Ebola Survivors

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided US$290,000 through IREX to Search for Common Ground (SFCG) to sensitize communities on the negative impacts stigma makes on Ebola survivors.
Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Liberia, those who survived the disease have reportedly suffered stigma in various communities, thus causing them to feel discriminated against.
The stigma comes about because of fear that survivors could still be transmit the virus when they are touched since it is one way of contracting EVD.
During a 4-day workshop in Gbarnga, Bong County over the weekend, the Executive Director of SFCG, Oscar Bloh, said integration of Ebola survivors remains a challenge in the country. To address this problem, USAID through IREX provided the funds to work with civil society organizations and community radios in rural Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Lofa and Nimba Counties to educate and sensitize communities in order to eradicate stigma.
He outlined stigma, survivors’ benefits, and livelihood status as key issues faced in the recovery process through which the CSOs and community radios have to propagate messages about survivors’ reintegration into society in three months.
Mr. Bloh also indicated that the project will seek to sensitize communities hit by the virus to plan memorial programs for those who died of the virus.
According to him, many of the victims were not properly buried, and therefore, there is a need to assist communities to plan programs that will memorialize their deceased.
He said the project will be implemented through community dialogue in which women, youths and men will participate to have it done in the way they want, suggesting fixing of memorial plates bearing names of victims, feast among other activities.
He clarified that they will not give out money to communities for a memorial program, but when they (communities) design and begin an activity that will memorialize the victims, USAID and its implementing partners may come in with an affordable assistance.
At the workshop in Gbarnga, SFCG taught CSOs and community radio journalists messages that will be balanced between survivors and none survivors.
They also taught them to use messages that will not contravene issues about transmission, which is still under investigation, with emphasis on speculation that the disease can be transmitted from survivors through sexual intercourse.
A consensus was reached between USAID, IREX and SFCG on the one hand, and community radios on the other that the messages about reintegration of survivors and memorializing the victims begin early September and end late November 2015.

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