Ebola waning - but situation remains so dire for thousands of orphans
WHO data on Ebola continues to encourage. Just 30 cases in the region last week, the lowest figure for 11 months – 0 cases in Liberia and only 9 cases in Sierra Leone, Street Child’s two focus countries.
This positive news in terms of the ‘big picture’ is small comfort to the orphans however. Even after Ebola has totally gone, they will still, of course, be orphans. And thousands of them are in hugely precarious situations, right now.
The majority of orphans in Sierra Leone have still not received any fresh support, from any source, since the publication of Street Child’s Orphan report in early March – i.e many of their situations are actually worsening. As such, Street Child were delighted to have the opportunity to re-emphasise the report’s key findings in an article in the Sunday Telegraph on Easter Sunday & an interview with CEO Tom Dannatt on the BBC World Service on Easter Monday. The Evening Standard also published a compelling story on Thursday
Street Child currently has 3 major areas of immediate concern for orphans:
1. Hunger and malnutrition. Distressing reports are reaching Street Child teams on an increasing basis of extreme hunger faced by Ebola Orphans. More food aid is essential now – it is a humanitarian imperative.
2. The imperative of rural livelihood support – NOW. The planting season has begun in much of Sierra Leone and Liberia. It ends in mid-May. Many farmers do not have the seeds they need to ensure a sufficient harvest to feed their families. The consequences later in the year could be horrendous. We have a maximum of 5 weeks to act *.
3. School support. Schools are open in Liberia and will open in Sierra Leone on Tuesday. Absent support, very few orphans will return to school. That would be a tragedy – these are the ones who need the hope and routine school life brings, more than any.
Street Child is flat out doing everything it can on these 3 issues. We are achieving a lot – for which we are hugely grateful to all our donors. But so much more needs doing than we are presently resourced for:
Street Child urges other organisations to do much more on these vital issues.
And begs further support for our own work from anyone who can.
* Families in urban settings who have taken in Ebola Orphans are also in urgent need of help to sustainably grow their household incomes. However, the need is marginally less pressing at this moment, as this support (which will typically used to boost or develop some form of trading activity –see here for examples) can be delivered at anymoment – whereas for most rural communities, planting season, a once a year event is now. Miss it and it is gone . . .