It is very early morning here in Freetown. Everything is quiet now, but only a few hours ago the whole city was experiencing bright lightening with earth shaking thunder which sounded like canon fire exploding in the air. The rain was torrential. This is the rainy season here in West Africa.
While we do need rain here for the nation’s water supply during the dry season, nevertheless it comes at a bad time – in the midst of the Ebola outbreak. You see the Ebola virus survives very well in fluid. So the risk of Ebola contaminated water rises. Once the dry season sets in I believe that the rate of Ebola infection will diminish. That is around December.
The news here is unfortunately not good at the moment. In a very real sense the epidemic is out of control. International medical help has been very slow in coming. They are now expecting that the death toll could soon rise up to 1000 per week. Some mornings when I wake up with a sniffle or a symtom of any type, I think to myself “this is it, I have EBOLA” and then laugh it off wondering if I make it to Heaven, will I be put in quarantine for 21 days before our Lord lets me in, hehe.
Bodies are being left in the streets and remain there . We had an incident a few days ago in Aberdeen a suburb of Freetown (this is the tourist section of Freetown where the up-market hotels are) where a body remained lying in the street without being collected by officials. This resulted in a huge demonstration by locals until eventually the body was collected. Near our compound in Waterloo (on the outer fringes of Freetown) a family died of Ebola. Most of the neighbours ran away in fright. However the bodies of the children remained in the house for several days. It was our chief nurse’s telephone call that eventually alerted officials to pick up the corpses. Part of the rapid spread of the infection is due to these bureaucratic rapid response lapses.
“Grim Reaper” on the prowl
The international community has let West Africa down, I listen to the BBC radio every-night and as close to 5000+ West African’s die of EBOLA it hardly rates a mention, but when two or three westerners die its headline news every hour on the hour, every day continuously.
The government here in Sierra Leone is doing its best, but they have neither the funds nor the experience to handle this evil EBOLA. A few weeks ago, in my meeting with the President his words were so sincere in thanking us for our small and insignificant help, I could see in his eyes the compassion for his nation, knowing the tidal wave that was to come and being helpless to protect his people of Sierra Leone.
However, in the midst of this nightmare I can convey some good news. None of the Orthodox Christian flock and workers here in Sierra Leone have been infected with the virus. This is the result of the grace of God, hard work and the assistance of our Mission’s international supporters and sponsors such as HADA, P4K / Australia & the USA; I don’t know where we would be without those gloves and mask you sent.
Who is most vulnerable?
As you are aware, the most vulnerable segment of our Mission’s flock is the disabled community that we are housing and feeding in our Waterloo Compound. A person with disability is in a higher risk category for infection because of reliance on others for their mobility. Since infection by Ebola is primarily from body contact a disabled person is in a serious disadvantage. Add to this their propensity to beg in the streets of Freetown over the weekends then you have a lethal possibility of contamination. If one of our disabled residents becomes contaminated then it follows, that our entire Waterloo compound could become Ebola contaminated – that is well over 100 families (including our nursing staff, clergy security guards and construction workers).
Thankfully we have managed to stop them from begging. This we have achieved through education, the distribution of protective items (gloves, face masks, chlorine etc.) increasing our financial assistance and providing them with rice supplies.
Soon, Eleni and Eric leave to take the arduous journey back to their homes, and I will miss them greatly. As for me this is my home, and as a shepherd I must stay with my flock, to care for them and to protect them from the evil that takes no prisoners, that doesn’t care how old you are, but as for me, “The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want.”
And even though, I personally have no need for anything, there is great need all around me.
Forgive me, but I must ask how your SL budget is, how is the container of food progressing and how is the container of medical supplies, we are running out of everything.
I am praying for your fund-raiser in Canberra and your Catwalk 2 Compassion fund-raiser in Brisbane. These funds are greatly needed.
Gratitude and an Appeal
I would like to express my sincere gratitude, please let all my friends and supporters know in Australia, the United States and Greece and especially our chief sponsor P4K / Australia/USA for the continual support. You were among the first international groups to send anti-Ebola assistance here in Sierra Leone. Well done!
We ask for your prayers and continued support as we enter the most critical period here.