The UNDP Montserrado Community-Based Initiative continues its Ebola Community out- reach to Muslim communities, and has now taken the sensitization to the Town of Jenewonde, one of the worst Ebola affected towns in Tewor District, in Grand Cape Mount County.
The Outreach was a special case for the MCBI Project given the severity of the Ebola situation in the County. Under the auspices of the Madala Incorporated, a group composed of Muslims, some of whom are UNVs Active Case Finders, the outreach is a continuation of similar activities in hot spot communities in Montserrado.
It seeks to among other things, sensitize Muslim communities on ways to prevent Ebola resurgence, encourage them to be vigilant in observing all preventive measures, and to use mosques and religious institutions for constant and consistent awareness on EVD.
During the Outreach in Jenewonde, Ebola preventive flyers with content written both in Arabic and English were distributed. Briefing the UNDP Out-reach Team, the Town Chief of Jenewonde, Jebbeh Sannoh said over 100 children made orphans as a result of the Ebola virus disease and more than 25 widows in the town are in dire need of food, clothing and other forms of assistance and support.
Madame Sannoh disclosed that between September 3and mid December 2014, over forty-seven (47) members of the community died to the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The tough talking female Town Chief said of the over forty deaths that occurred in the town, majority were females. “The 47 persons are people who died and were buried by the burial team….I’m not talking about the other people who were buried secretly by their family over night…” Madam Sannoh said.
She said since the death of her kinsmen, the houses in which they lived remain perpetually closed. “They told us that when our relatives die, we should bring all their things outside and burn…We’ve burnt everything but their places still remain closed….” Madam Sannoh said.
The Jenewonde Town Chief narrated that Ebola widows and orphans are finding life very difficult. “Today, the widows and orphans are sleeping on the bare floor in the homes of other relatives who are helping to host them”. She said out of the over 100 hundred orphans in the town, only five of them have so far received assistance.
In response, UNDP UNV Field Associate Varlee Sarnor promised to take all of their concerns to the appropriate authorities at the Ebola Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for redress. “I am not saying that I’ve come with the solution to all of your concerns…But I’ll take everything that you’ve said here to those who can make decisions about the Ebola situation in our country…” Sarnor said.
Sawou Saysay, 16, is seven-months pregnant. She said her boyfriend died from Ebola during the heat of the outbreak in the town. Ruth Karbeh, 19, also lost her 20 year-old boyfriend from Ebola. Ruth has a 3-month old baby boy.
Meanwhile, the MCBI Team under the banner of Madala Incorporated, has submitted its findings from the Out-reach in Jenewonde to authorities of the Ebola Incidence Management of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoH&SW) team with its recommendations.
Among the recommendations are the need for increased awareness, monitoring and evaluation, the need for psycho-social counseling to help develop citizens’ coping mechanism with trauma, provide food & non-food items, and support the creation of job opportunities for citizens to improve their livelihoods among others.
Jenewonde is situated in Tewor District, Grand Cape Mount County. It is near the border with Sierra Leone and the population is mostly Muslims. But there are other traditional groups which include people from the Poro and Sande societies. The very first Ebola case was discovered in the Town in August, but the current outbreak started in October 2014.
Jenewonde is about 50 miles (80 Kilometers) from Monrovia. Jenewonde lost about 10-15% of its population due to the Ebola virus disease. The recent outbreak in the Town came from Montserrado and Bomi Counties. There is still an on-going problem with cultural/traditional burials which are the root causes of Ebola still visible in Jenewonde.