A message from our CEO, Tom Dannatt
It is with the greatest of relief that I write to share the long-awaited news, for those who have not heard it already, that today, Sierra Leone has hit the magic mark of 42 days with no new cases of Ebola and therefore officially joins Liberia in being declared . . . Ebola free!
Or to put matters in Krio: “Ebola don don!”
Of course Ebola has been coming progressively under control since early this year and the number of cases in recent months has been very low – but there is a world of difference between being ‘nearly Ebola free’ and actually ‘Ebola free’. It really is a day for celebration!
When you think of the sheer horror of the situation this time last year, and the apocalyptic predictions being made – it is such a day for celebration. It is also a day for everyone connected with and who has supported Street Child to puff their chests out a bit: we played our part in this day coming about.
At the height of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Street Child had 1,700 ‘Ebola educators’ deployed, on top of our 300 regular staff, in remote communities and grim slums going house-to-house telling their people what Ebola was and how to avoid it. We reached over 300,000 people with this vital information. There is no doubt this exercise saved many lives.
And we reached out to the orphans too. This was different to slowing Ebola itselfbut this is still an appropriate moment to salute the remarkably brave work of our field teams who, even at the height of the chaos and fear, sought these children out, befriended them and provided support. At the time, no-one else was doing this on any scale. We did it. In Sierra Leone we reached out to 12,000 children in their darkest moments and made things just a little better for them.
And of course the challenge for the orphans gets no smaller just because Ebola has gone – Ebola has already done its damage for them. Likewise for many others affected by Ebola in different ways, including survivors and the hundreds of thousands whose businesses and farming were critically hit by quarantine and other restrictions.
But we really want to celebrate today! Although the nagging concern remains that public attention and support will now draw a line under Ebola and move on. Which is like saying after a war, ‘OK, the war is finished, now we can all get on with our lives’. That’s not what happens – everyone knows you need reconstruction after a war and likewise, post-Ebola Sierra Leone, needs so much. So, in many ways the ‘Ebola crisis’ lives on – and will do until the last orphan or Ebola-affected child gets the support they need.
Nevertheless, today, Ebola the virus that caused all this chaos, is gone. And for that we are grateful and justifiably excited. Today, I encourage you all, wherever you are, to raise a small glass to this wonderful news.
Once again, I want to take this moment to thank each and every one of our supporters who has helped us in the crisis to date – your support has helped make a massive difference!