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From Doubt to Belief

A communicator in Zwedru displays the ebola must go sticker

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that hit three West African Countries, Liberia Guinea and Sierra Leone left over twenty five thousand persons affected and well over ten thousand deaths.

In Liberia, over four thousand persons are reported to have died according to the US Centers for Disease Control case count for Liberia as of March 28, 2015.

The disease threatened the entire country from Monrovia to Cape Mount to Nimba to Grand Gedeh in the South East.

Through Swift intervention from local and international partners, the disease is being controlled in Liberia.

With the assistance of partners, Mercy Corps, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Population Services International (PSI), and other organizations involved in the fight against ebola, Grand Gedeh in South Eastern Liberia experienced few deaths and few suspected cases.

To help in the fight against ebola, the Liberia YMCA in collaboration with these partners and other stakeholders under the ECAP project organized a number of interventions which are: community stakeholders forum, public outreach campaign, door-to-door community awareness, promotion of treatment at ebola treatment units (ETU), stigma reduction, psychosocial training and door-to-door community awareness among others.

With these activities in 8 communities in Zwedru to include Disco Hill, Kanneh Road, Gbolleyville, Jensenville, Zambo Quarter, Webbo Quarter, Sinoe Road, Mandingo Quarter, Broad Street Community and Airfield Community by the Liberia YMCA and other partners in other communities of Grand Gedeh County, members of the communities now have knowledge on the spread and prevention of the ebola virus disease, behavioral change towards ebola, reduced fears about ETUs and reduction in stigmatization.

“One thing amazing about the communities we have worked with is that community members did not believe in that ebola was real, but the intervention by the Liberia YMCA and partners has brought communities to believe there is ebola.” Says Derrick Barshell- the Coordinator of the Liberia YMCA ECAP in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.

“People are now washing hands and communities are meeting regularly to discuss issues about ebola, all aimed at preventing the spread of the disease in their county. Says Derrick.

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On the Move with Ebola Prevention Messages in Gbarnga

Awareness in the Gbarnga CommunityBong County in Central Liberia is one area hit by the ebola virus disease.

With over three communities and several hundred people quarantined as a result of suspected cases, the county is now recovering from the outbreak and so is the rest of the country.

Thanks to the effort of the Liberian government and international partners. Ebola awareness and sensitization is being carried out in 27 communities in Jorquelleh and Suakoko districts, Bong County.

Some of these photos show public outreach campaigns by the Liberia YMCA in partnership with Mercy Corps under the Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP).

As a result of the intervention community members are adhering to the culture of hand washing and other ebola awareness messages to help stop the spread of the ebola virus.

A community stakeholder forum in Bong County

A community stakeholder forum in Bong County

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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.

ECAP Social Mobilizers undergoing training in Saniquelle

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 engagement in SaniquelleCommunity 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.

 

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