Following on from UNICEF’s report yesterday that there were already over 3,700 Ebola orphans in West Africa, Street Child is announcing a pledge to immediately commence long-term support to 1,000 children orphaned by Ebola.
The charity will ensure, in the short term, that children have their basic rights met, especially in terms of nutrition and psycho-social care. Longer term, Street Child will ensure that every child is settled in a sustainable, caring family environment and, critically, is able to access education. The majority of families who take in Ebola orphans will receive family business support to help sustainably grow their incomes.
Kelfa Kargbo, Director of Street Child of Sierra Leone commented: “The challenges of supporting this category of children are not underestimated. It is clear that many of them are facing great stigma and this is proving a barrier to some of the usual positive responses you would expect from the child’s wider family in these situations. However, our staff and organisation has extensive experience of overcoming sharp prejudice against groups such as ex-combatants, teenage mothers, amputee children and street children. Over the years we have succeeded in reuniting thousands of such cases with families and assisting children to stay in school – and these reunifications have endured and the children been retained in school, many doing very well. I have no doubt that we have the strategic insight and resources to lead the way with this important work.”
Tom Dannatt, International Director of Street Child commented: “We will focus our work in Sierra Leone, where we have excellent social and family business teams already active in 15 different towns in the country. This reach offers an ideal platform for a truly national response. In addition, we will operate a response from our base in Monrovia where there is obviously a massive need. Our teams in Kenema and Monrovia are already working on this issue and we aim to be actively supporting 1,000 children by the end of October. We will be intensifying our cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare in Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Gender and Development in Liberia, UNICEF and any other relevant agencies. We know the need is greater than 1,000 children already and grows daily; however we look forward to other agencies coming forward with their own firm commitments. Meanwhile, if the need remains and we can access the funds, we absolutely will increase our commitment. This is an issue upon which we as an organisation have the desire, experience and capacity to make a significant impact.”