By Catherine Mahony, CAFOD’s Emergency Coordinator for West Africa, who is coordinating our response to the Ebola Crisis in Sierra Leone. Please donate to our Ebola Crisis Appeal>>
Today was a great day: for the first time in two months, all CAFOD’s national staff came back into the office to work on our programme of Ebola response operations. Until now, for safety, many staff have been working from home.
Everyone returned to the office with enthusiasm – it has been hard to be separated, at home, apart from our teammates. Sometimes the sense of powerlessness has been difficult, but we all felt it was a privilege to be able to contribute tangibly to stopping Ebola and help people when they need it most.
We started the day by sharing our hopes and fears. We’ve all been affected by the Ebola crisis in some way. Many of us are afraid: of the everyday dangers of infection, of risks to our loved ones and of what will become of the country. We were pleased to find that our strengths outweighed our weaknesses, and our hopes were greater than our fears.
Please donate to our Ebola Crisis Appeal>>
Some of the things we thought would make it harder for us are in fact the things that will make us stronger: Dennis, CAFOD’s programme officer for the safe burial programme, pointed out that Sierra Leoneans have come through a long and bitter civil war, and this makes them more resilient: they know that they have survived and learned from that. The country and its people have been rebuilt, so people know that they have what it takes to face this enormous challenge.
We also acknowledged the sacrifices people are making, small and large. We noted how hard it is to hold back the handshakes and hugs of greeting, how difficult it is not to travel to see families in other districts, and for children to stay at home, bored and restless, because schools are closed and they can’t play outside. But we saw that people are observing the safety measures, because they believe that by doing it they will end the crisis sooner: people are positive; they are making these sacrifices because they believe this crisis will end.
At the weekend, Dennis lost his uncle to Ebola. He wasn’t able to attend the funeral and his family have been shaken by the loss. Soon Dennis will be training new safe burial teams in Kambia District in the north of the country. I can only imagine how difficult this will be for him. But I know that his experience will help him to work with the teams to ensure that the burials are safe but dignified, so that families can say goodbye to their loved ones with the respect and care that they deserve. Continue reading