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IN LIBERIA THE SCARS OF EBOLA ARE EVERYWHERE, BUT THERE IS HOPE AMONG THE HARDSHIP

This blog post originally appeared in the Huffington Post, click here to read

It's one year since Liberia was first declared free of the Ebola virus. In Dolo's Town, one of the first places to be severely hit by Ebola, the news crews have gone home and people are trying to get used to a new normal.

For many, it's a way of life that they were not ready for.

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STREET CHILD’S WORK WITH LIBERIA’S YOUNG TOMB DWELLERS: THE INDEPENDENT

The Independent on Saturday has published a major magazine article on the plight gruesome situation of young people reduced to living in a disused Monrovia graveyard – and of Street Child’s brave, solitary, attempts to help this often under-represented group.

The article introduces us to a number of these vulnerable young people, including  Junior Toe, a veteran tomb dweller. "There was a body there, but I took it out and threw it away,"  he says, standing on the worn edge of an open tomb, he peers into his second-hand bedroom. The empty space, about two-metres deep, is finished with stained green tiles crossed by vines. "When you look for a tomb, the body can't be too fresh," he advises. "It has to be really dead, then you can clear it away into a bag."

 

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OBSERVER: STREET CHILD'S BINTU IS BACK IN SCHOOL

But only with 30% of her colleagues

At the peak of the world’s interest in the Ebola crisis, Bintu Sannoh, a teenage girl supported by Street Child whose home in Kenema was hit by Ebola, wrote a diary article on the front page of the Observer.

She described the misery Ebola had brought to her family. In subsequent Observer articles, published in November and January, she depicts the stigma and poverty her family still faced – but how, through their own efforts, supported by Street Child, they were managing to cope.

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BACK TO SCHOOL IN SIERRA LEONE AND LIBERIA: STREET CHILD 'SURGE'

As Ebola dims, the focus of children, and of Street Child in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is increasingly turning to the vital issue of returning to school.

Liberia was the first to announce its intention to re-open schools, with an initial date of 2nd February – this has now been pushed back and it is likely that schools will open now on 2nd March, though some still maintain hope that it could be as early as 16th February.

Sierra Leone has announced a desire to re-open most schools as early as March – though no date has been set yet.

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"STREET CHILD'S EBOLA EDUCATION OPERATION HAS SAVED MANY LIVES" – JMK TALKS TO THE GUARDIAN

In his third article for the Guardian Global Development website, JMK, Director of Street Child’s Ebola education programme talks in forthright terms about the impact he is sure his team has had – and the lives it has saved. 

As one example, he describes the key actions that Street Child’s educators played when Ebola entered Tambakha, one of Sierra Leone’s poorest and most remote chiefdoms. He notes how Ebola only ended up causing 16 deaths there, as against the carnage that has ensued when Ebola has landed in other comparable remote areas, such as Nieni in Koinadugu, where Ebola education was minimal prior to the disease’s arrival.

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OBSERVER: BINTU SALLOH ON THE IMPACT OF POVERTY

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. 

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