Freetown, Sierra Leone, April 10, 2014
Ebola a European Threat!
The West African Outbreak of Ebola
The present West African epicentre of this non-curable killer infection is in Guinea (Sierra Leone’s northern and eastern border neighbour). Now it has started to spread beyond the Guinean borders. It is interesting that Ebola has never been previously recorded in Guinea. Precisely because it is an unprecedented phenomenon, some local Guineans recently attacked members of the French medical organisation Medecin SansFrontiere believing that they had deliberately introduced the virus into Guinea as part of a “foreign plot.”
Now we face this new deadly menace and preventive measures in our Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone have begin as we endeavor to protect its people.
Our Mission in Sierra Leone is now on an emergency alert footing. We are monitoring the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and taking various forms of preventative environmental, hygienic and spiritual measures to protect the people we serve here. What are these measures:
Spiritual Supplications: The Holy Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone consistently undertakes at least one church service per day. Orthodox Services are abundant with petitions for health, safety, avoidance and deliverance from various afflictions (including diseases) and threatening perils:
“For our deliverance from all afflictions, wrath, danger …. Let us pray to the Lord.” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; Matins and Vespers Services).
“No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague approach your house.” (Psalm 91.10; Great Compline).
Such or similar petitions are chanted by our Mission on a daily basis. Of course we also request your intercessory prayers as well. We therefore expect Christ’s mighty protection to cover us from this menacing plague.
Preventative Hygiene Education:
Our Mission possesses three large compounds in the Greater Freetown area serving over 2000 children, youth and adults throughout our various educational, ecclesiastical and medical projects. We have an obligation to keep them safe from this deadly infection which has no known cure or therapy. In this case prevention from infection is the best and perhaps only possible policy. Consequently we are providing a constant information outreach, discussions and updates to our pupils, parents and teachers, college students, lecturers, priests, parishioners and staff, concerning the nature of the infection and how to safeguard oneself from contamination. We have even enrolled the services of the Red Cross to assist us in this educational and preventative effort.
The basic prescribed preventative methods depend on:
- Proper diet (avoiding the consumption of bats, chimpanzee, gorilla, snakes and other types of bush meat which are eaten in certain regions of West Africa).
- Appropriate personal hygiene (washing of hands, washing clothes, boiling water, washing food before cooking etc.).
- We are ensuring that all our buildings are cleaned and disinfected; especially the toilet and washroom facilities.
- Furthermore we are discouraging any travel to Guinea or Liberia for the time being. I would also advise that all overseas visitors planning to visit our Mission in Sierra Leone to cancel or postpone their trip until the danger period has safely passed.
Appeal For Help
In case this killer infection reaches Freetown, of all our compounds perhaps the most potentially vulnerable is the Waterloo compound (at the outskirts of Freetown). Here we house a community of physically challenged people (mostly polio and amputees victims) together with their children and spouses – the St. Moses the Ethiopian Orthodox Village.
At this point of time we have no complete perimeter wall around the disabled housing area. That means that the community is exposed to all types of threats from the surrounding and neighboring communities. For example, it is not unusual individuals from the surrounding vicinity to trespass at night and without permission use the St. Moses Community toilet facilities (as well as at times harass and steal). That means that if the Ebola infection reaches Freetown this compound is at great risk of exposure to contamination.
Furthermore, while we are providing free accommodation, free medical services, free educational opportunities as well as financial assistance to the members of the St. Moses Community, nevertheless at the present time due to financial constraints the washing and bathing facilities are very primitive. This is another point of weakness in our compound which could attract the Ebola virus.
I am therefore requesting your help for the ensuing emergency measures to be implemented at our Waterloo Compound in order to provide a safe and hygienic environment for our Orthodox Community living there:
We need to build a complete perimeter wall to protect our Waterloo disabled community from outsiders using the existing toilet facilities and hence potentially infect the compound. Construction on this wall has already started but it needs to be completed.
To ensure optimal hygiene levels we need to provide decent washing facilities for our disabled brothers and sisters. This will consist of separate male and female compartments for personal bathing and for washing of clothes.
Finally, if we are to ensure safe and hygienic washing facilities we will need to build a permanent water well, pump and an adjacent tower holding a sizeable water tank. The water well would have to be deep enough in order to have the capacity of supplying water all year round. Water would then be pumped up from the well to the elevated water tank which would permanently supply its water through taps and showers into the washroom. Naturally we will ensure a constant supply of soap and washing powder.
I would like to thank the generous donor from “Canada”, who after hearing our situation sent us a much needed and most generous amount, along with “Paradise 4 Kids” who diverted funds from another project so that we could begin the perimeter fencing.
And, I thank you all in anticipation of your assistance in this matter so that we can protect our Orthodox Community in Waterloo in case the Ebola infection strikes.
We ask for your prayers.
Respectfully in Christ
+ Archimandrite Theistocles Adamopoulos