Street Child is greatly saddened to learn of the overnight quarantining of Makeni and many other areas in Sierra Leone.
Whilst Street Child is a truly national charity in Sierra Leone with a presence in every corner of the country, the charity’s origins and deepest roots lie in Makeni – home to the ‘Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon’ for the past three years. Street Child also has a broad, longstanding footprint in Port Loko and a brand new project in Moyamba – both Districts now quarantined along with Bombali.
We have no reason to cast doubt on the need for these kind of measures: clearly the Government of Sierra Leone has taken these decisions, drawing on the information and advice before it, in the best interests of the areas and the nation. Indeed, recent Street Child field reports have indicated the ineffectiveness of many of the existing measures, especially the quarantining of individual households – suggesting the need for more aggressive measures.
However we are fearful for, and wish to draw attention to, the consequences for the people of these areas, and especially the most vulnerable, including but not limited to, street children. Street Child’s team in Kenema, an area which has been quarantined since July, has reported toughening conditions for all but especially the poorest, those who only just ‘get by’ in normal conditions, dependent on day-to-day strategies. It is vital that the humanitarian needs of the entire population, not just direct Ebola victims, are recognized by all – measures such as this deepen economic crisis, alongside the obvious acute health crisis.
Street Child will be re-doubling its efforts to provide support in Makeni and these affected areas. And we urgently call on all, but especially our supporters, hundreds of whom have been to Makeni, to rally round at this acute moment, to enable us to maximize what we can contribute.
Our staff will be working closely with the local Ebola taskforces and authorities to coordinate activities. Our actions will focus on the four pillars of our Ebola response strategy:
1. Ebola education – beyond surface level awareness: promoting ‘deep’ knowledge of Ebola and how to protect oneself and loved ones;
2. Support to individual quarantined households – to ensure they are adequately fed;
3. Holistic support to Ebola orphans and households without a breadwinner;
4. Livelihood and business support to families acutely affected by either Ebola itself or Ebola-counter measures (such as quarantine) – with a focus on our existing beneficiary families and children.