Young Life, a Christian US-based humanitarian organization that reaches out to young people, has opened a weekend camp for Ebola survivors aimed at helping them to relax and find consolation following their ordeal with the deadly virus.
The camp brought together more than 100 young people from three counties, Montserrado, Bong and Margibi, all of whom have survived the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and also experienced the loss of loved ones to the virus. Baptist Youth Camp along the Roberts International Airport highway was the venue for the camp where 52 female and 50 male convened.
Young Life regional director, James S. Davis, II, said last Friday at the opening session that the camp is intended to support survivors who have had horrible experiences by giving them teachings of hope that would reduce the stress accumulated from contracting the deadly Ebola disease. He said the organization’s intentions are also to build the capacities of these survivors and help them to know Jesus.
Mr. Davis said he hoped that after each weekend camp survivors would be able to regain confidence and courage to withstand the stigma associated with contracting the disease. Another objective, said Mr. Davis, is to empower survivors to reestablish relationships within their families and communities and to fight Ebola where they live.
“We need to give them the courage and hope that they can go out there and contribute to society. As survivors, they can help us immensely in the fight of the epidemic,” he said.
He emphasized that Young Life was also focusing on helping the survivors to leave the camp knowing Jesus Christ, living and sharing His wonderful work of saving them from the EVD.
The Young Life Regional Director said that his organization has been working with the young people from the time they were declared Ebola-free, believing that with the messages of hope and courage, including other educational lessons, they will be able to help fight the disease and the stigma associated with it.
“These people are coming from places that were badly hit by the virus and had bitters experiences. We believed that having fun, laughter, and being together like this will help greatly in fighting the stigma with which they are confronted in their various communities,” said Mr. Davis.
“Young Life will also identify with survivors by giving them special packages of assorted foods and other items,” he disclosed.
He used the occasion to admonish those involved in stigmatizing and rejecting EVD survivors, to stop doing so and accept them as normal people.
Said Mr. Davis: “they did not buy, pray or request for the disease and they are human beings like ourselves.”
He hoped that his organization would be able to extend its youth camp to other counties.
Survivors who spoke with this newspaper expressed their gratitude to Young Life for the initiative which they said has given them hope.
Most of them said they lost at least one or more family members to the disease.
They all stated that their losses of brothers, sisters, children and parents to the virus have put them in an emotional state and the initiative of Young Life was helpful.
They called on the government and partners to help survivors with financial and other support, without which some of them would find making a living for themselves extremely difficult.