Liberia YMCA in the Fight against Ebola in Saniquelle
The Liberia YMCA in partnership with Mercy Corps in December 2014 began work under the Ebola Community Action Platform, (ECAP).
ECAP is a large social mobilization program, funded by USAID and developed by Mercy Corps and Population Services International, which works in partnership with over 70 community-oriented NGOs.
Intended to support the government of Liberia led response, ECAP’s partners have been delivering critical messages of the Government’s ‘Ebola Must Go campaign in their communities, helping to mitigate risks from Ebola, address complacency and reduce stigmatization of health care workers, survivors and their families.
With structures already in place in Bong, Margibi, Lofa and Nimba Counties, Community forums, awareness and sensitization were few of the many initiatives held in all project communities.
Activities in these communities were intended to help allay fears and concerns with regard to EVD and actions to remedy any issue of concern to the community with regard to the ebola virus disease.
Saniquelle Mah District in Nimba County, North Western Liberia is one of the many districts in Nimba where ECAP activities are being implemented. Communicators as they are known interacted with the communities and individuals raising awareness on the spread and prevention of the Ebola virus.
Training is a core component of the ECAP project. Communicators were trained preparing them to effectively engage communities in executing the task of effecting behaviour change in community members regarding Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) and stigma reduction.
Social Mobilizers and Communicator also collaborated in disseminating safe school and ebola prevention messages to communities and schools.
From Animal Farm to Sehyi Geh to Sugarhill to Nempain in Saniquelle Mah and from Blamein to Karyee to Voipa in Yarwein Mensonnoh District, community leaders and members benefited from awareness and sensitization or public outreach on ebola.
In Gboa Gbalasonnoh District, one community resident expressed delight about ECAP’s work, adding, “engaging the communities through discussion helps us to easily find solutions to our problems, especially during this ebola crisis.”
Community members are now proactive and are adhering to preventive measures in their communities.
Steven Menklay is a resident of Gboa Darvoryee in Saclepea Mah District, had doubted the existence of Ebola and had never organized a hand washing facility at his home. After several weeks of intervention, Steven now has created a structure for hand washing.
“The intervention by YMCA and partners has brought changes to our communities and from the interactions; I now believe that ebola is real.” Stephen says.
These communities attached high importance to the forums and mass meetings where experiences and opinions are shared.
Community members of Boyee, a community in Yarwein Mensonnoh were unanimous in not allowing their children return to school as a result of fear, that their kids might become vulnerable. After several community meetings under the ECAP program , community leaders agreed to allow their kids return to school.
Community residents are also adhering to ebola messages about sick people, not touching dead bodies and even informing authorities about sick people.