At least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have lost one or both parents to Ebola over the past year. Government officials estimate 25,000 orphans are at risk. These children not only face the grief and fear typical to all orphans, but also face being shunned by their communities. Most people are too afraid of contracting Ebola to care for the children of Ebola victims.
Ten year olds Gonda and Esther, pictured a few weekends ago with Dr. Susan Hillis of the CDC, lost their parents to Ebola.
UNICEF says that as of November 14, 2014 there were 14,413 cases of Ebola with 5,177 deaths. According to the World Health Organization, there could be as many as 10,000 new cases per week by December.
Just a few days ago, a villager with Ebola walked five hours through a dense forest, only to collapse when he got to the capital. According to him, people are dying in droves in his rural village and villages like it.
In Sierra Leone, young children ages 1-3 are wandering the streets after their parents die because no one wants to care for them. Babies whose mothers die of Ebola are sometimes just abandoned. Others are afraid to pick these babies up, hold them and feed them, because of the probability that the children have the disease. Often there is no formula available, even if someone is willing to touch and feed them. Food is very scarce right now due to people not working and roads are too bad to get the food to some remote villages. Churches are trying to help but because people are not working, they are having a hard time getting offerings.
As the Ebola crisis grows, the number of orphans will continue to grow too.
A Family for Every Orphan has partnered with Christian leaders in Liberia who have prepared a thorough plan of action with accountability measures in place. These Christian leaders make up the Liberian Orphan and Widow Care Ministries (LOWCAM) from 10 local churches in 5 communities around Monrovia, Liberia. LOWCAM has identified 163 Ebola orphans that need IMMEDIATE placement. The highest need after placement is food. There are families in these communities willing to care for Ebola orphans if they just had the food to feed them. They have a growing team of Ebola survivors (who are now immune to the disease) who have volunteered to care for children whose parents have died of Ebola.
- 4 months of food available for the identified 163 Ebola orphans
- Accountability for all food given
- Estimated cost= $40/child/month
- That amount equals $6,877/per month to feed these 163 orphaned children. This also includes transportation costs to get the food to the villages.
Strides are being made to establish similar networks in Sierra Leone. Many of these children are actually starving because people are too scared to bring them food.
To learn more about Esther and Gonda and the Ebola orphan crisis, read this article* from the Wall Street Journal.
*if you do not have a WSJ subscription, search the article title: "In Ebola-Afflicted Liberia, Orphanages Make a Tragic Comeback" in any browser for a web copy
We encourage you to also read this article* about the affect Ebola is having on the children in West Africa. Dr. Susan Hillis is featured as one of the doctors who visited and treated Ebola victims just recently. She gives her insight and expertise as a senior staff adviser in global health with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during an interview from Freetown, Sierra Leone.