On Sunday, Bintu Salloh, a teenage girl from Kenema whose family were hit by Ebola last year and have been receiving support from Street Child filed her third report for the Observer newspaper.
In her first article for the Observer, a piece they memorably ran as their major front page story, Bintu described the horrors of facing Ebola. In her next article she spoke of the terrible impact of stigma.
In this, her third piece, which we encourage everyone to read, she focuses on the new enemy: poverty. She describes the way that Ebola has largely been eradicated in Kenema – but the awful legacy of poverty it leaves: for Ebola-hit families like hers, but also for so many.
Bintu and Kenema are not extreme cases – in fact they are typical. Ebola is on the decline across West Africa. But the increased levels of poverty brought about by the disease and measures to combat it (such as quarantines) remain. Unaddressed, these will spell ongoing disaster for many in the region, especially the poorest. Rising hunger and numbers of out of school children, two of the fears Bintu discusses, will be just two of the consequences.
Street Child is not waiting for the Ebola crisis to end before addressing poverty. We believe people can, and must, be helped towards sustainability now, wherever possible. Bintu describes in her article how Street Child has set her aunt up in a firewood business – with training, planning support, a grant and ongoing mentoring. This is what we have done, with superb results, for the families of thousands of former-street children in West Africa since 2010.
And this is what we plan to do for thousands of Ebola-affected families this year, including the families who have taken in orphans. In Sierra Leone we have given business support to 903 families in recent weeks, as reported yesterday in Awoko, a Freetown daily – and a similar programme is also underway in Liberia.
To learn more about Street Child’s unique and highly effective Family Business Scheme watch the video below filmed last March with Street Child patron and business guru, The Apprentice’s Nick Hewer or read more on our projects page.