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Sierra Leone: the fight against Ebola

Tuesday 15 April 2014 by Voices from the Field

 

Francis

Francis, a Community Health Worker in Sierra Leone

Is there one thing  you never leave home without? For Francis, there are two: his toolbox and a first aid kit. As a carpenter, he was already used to fixing things in his community. Now he has been trained by Save the Children as a Community Health Worker, so he can also provide basic medical care.

“Usually when people come for treatment I leave the woodwork, get my hands washed and attend to them – then get back to work,” he says.

Francis’s robust attitude, skills and kit can do a great deal of good. But they can’t fight one disease that has recently broken out in his region: Ebola.

Great pain. No cure. And a fatality rate that can hit 90%.

Ebola virus affects both adults and children and there is currently no cure.  Fever, weakness and muscle pain lead to a rash, vomiting, loss of kidney and liver function, and in some cases both internal and external bleeding. Of those who catch this horrible disease, through contact with the bodily fluids of affected people or animals, up to 90% will die.

So far, there are 178 suspected cases across the region. 66 are confirmed in Guinea, 5 in Liberia. None are confirmed yet in Sierra Leone but we need to act fast to limit the virus’s spread.

“Korglor yia laygor eh kpokowa,” says Francis, which means “information about an impending war can save the aged from being killed”.

A clear plan

Save the Children is working with Sierra Leone communities to help them recognise the disease if it arrives. We are training over 2,000 community health workers who will cover all the communities in Kailahun and Pujehun, raising awareness of ways to prevent Ebola and making sure people know how to respond to suspected cases.

“First, we are going to ask the town chief to call all the people to a meeting,” says Francis. “Then we will continue with one-on-one sensitisation and in the event of a suspected case, we will immediately report to the health centre.”

“We alone cannot do the work”

Tahiru Abdulai, a Community Health Officer responsible for training health workers, knows how crucial it is that communities are supported in this way.

“The training of Community Health Workers is very important,” she explains. “We alone cannot do the work. They can help us prevent Ebola because they are living with the people in these communities. More importantly, they are now well equipped to start sensitising those communities.”

Francis will now teach others in the community to recognise the symptoms of Ebola so they can refer anyone who may be suffering from the disease to medical care, immediately. Together, we hope to win the battle against this deadly virus.

Central African Republic: “Thank you for saving her life!”

Monday 14 April 2014 by Mark Kaye

“It will only take 10 minutes – but it can be the difference between life and death.”

This is what Stella, a Save the Children midwife at Bambari Regional Hospital, tells me as Mariam is rushed into the operating theatre.

She has just given birth to her fourth child, a healthy boy already named Jonny.

But in the process she suffered from a serious vaginal tear and is now in danger of bleeding out or later catching a nasty infection; she needs stitches, immediately.

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Live Below the Line: the secret to the perfect shopping list

Thursday 10 April 2014 by Rachel Crews

There’s only one talking point amongst Save the Children staff taking part in Live Below the Line this month: what should be on that all-important shopping list?

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If the whole world was listening: the International Day for Street Children

Wednesday 9 April 2014 by Save the Children

We believe every child has the right to fulfil their potential. That’s why this month, on 12 April, Save the Children and our partner Aviva are supporting the International Day for Street Children.

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Rwanda: Remembering the past while looking to the future

Tuesday 8 April 2014 by Colin Crowley

Yesterday in Kigali thousands of Rwandan youth came together to march from the Parliament building to the national stadium in remembrance of the victims of the 1994 genocide. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this historic event – there to represent Save the Children and show our support for Rwanda’s children.

Thousands of people walk across Kigali in remembrance of the victims of the 1994 genocide.

Thousands of people walk across Kigali in remembrance of the victims of the 1994 genocide.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in which nearly one million people lost their lives in this small country in central Africa. Accordingly, a lot of the attention that is being placed on the country is focused on its tragic past.

Remember, Renuite, Renew

The official title of the national ceremonies marking the occasion is “Kwibuka”, which means “Remember” in the Kinyarwanda language. However, there is another part of the official slogan of the ceremonies that is equally important. In full, it reads: “Remember, Reunite, Renew.” These additional words demonstrate the resolve of Rwandans to come together and work towards a better future.

In our efforts to respect the victims of the past it is also crucial that we too focus on Rwanda’s future. Twenty years after we led a massive operation to reunite orphaned and separated children with surviving family members in the years following the genocide, Save the Children is still working to help the children of Rwanda grow up and have the future they deserve.

One of our most ambitious and exciting initiatives is an innovative education programme to boost literacy rates among Rwanda’s children. We are working with parents, teachers, and entire communities to make sure that children are given all the support they need – in the form of books, well-equipped classrooms and home support – to fulfil their potential as students.

Rwanda: After the genocide 20 years ago, we said ‘never again’. Did we mean it?

Monday 7 April 2014 by Justin Forsyth

Two decades ago, the world watched in horror as Rwanda was pulled apart by a brutal genocide. The international community, burned by a failed intervention in Somalia and distracted by events elsewhere, failed to intervene to stop the killing.

Led by the US and supported by Britain, the UN Security Council refused to deploy a stronger peacekeeping force. By the time it was galvanised into action, an estimated 800,000 people were dead.

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Rwanda: polaroid archive a documentation of country’s lost children

Saturday 5 April 2014 by Katie Bilboa

We recently re-opened an incredible archive at our office in Kigali, Rwanda: thousands of Polaroid images, documenting children whose lives – in 1994 – were changed forever. As the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda approached, we began to wonder what had happened to the children we helped to reunite with their families.

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Central African Republic: Prisoner in a displacement camp

Wednesday 2 April 2014 by Mark Kaye

The last few days have seen a resurgence in the violence in Bangui, capital of the the Central African Republic, mostly directed at the minority Muslim population. For Bernard*, 14, it means he’s effectively displaced within a displacement camp, too afraid to even leave our safe space in case he’s attacked.

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Syria: Where is our outrage and why does it matter that it’s missing?

Friday 28 March 2014 by Cat Carter

Among aid agency staff working on the Syria crisis, the levels of frustration are huge. And there is something else – a very real and visceral rage. It has many targets but it is no less potent because of it. Primarily, it’s anger at the world, for watching as a country tears itself to bloodied pieces and muttering phrases like ‘Well, there are no good guys in this one…’ or ‘Aren’t they all terrorists anyway?’. Pictures of eviscerated children failed to stir the indignation of the masses. Reports of the mass torture of civilians fell on deaf ears. Targeted killings of doctors, medics, journalists and aid workers skyrocketed and still – no outrage.

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India: Let’s make this election count towards saving newborn lives

Thursday 27 March 2014 by Pragya Vats

India is gearing up for the elections; this election will not be business as usual. We must demand answers from our political representatives, let us hold them accountable so they keep their commitments in the next five years.

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