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Don Bosco Matadi - Monrovia

Home for the young


Salesians and members of the Salesian Family in English-speaking West Africa are healthy and highly motivated in the fight against Ebola. Salesians meet regularly to analyze the situation and plan strategies to deal with the issues.
Statistics show that the situation is deteriorating rapidly in Liberia (1386 cases and 754 deaths) and Sierra Leone (1050 cases and 392 deaths). In Nigeria the outbreak seems to be under control (16 cases, 12 confirmed and 5 deaths). Ghana remains the only country of our province which is “Ebola free”. The WHO stated today that up to 20,000 people could become affected by the virus. A worrying issue is that 240 health workers fighting the outbreak have contracted the disease and more than 120 of them have already died. We believe that the numbers are underestimated and not realistic: the number of infections and deaths is definitely greater. Many people do not report cases and keep the bodies for burial, which is extremely dangerous.
The Ebola outbreak is not only a sanitary challenge; it has deep and very severe social, economic and political consequences. Several hospitals and clinics are closed. Doctors and nurses are reluctant to report for work out of fear of contagion. People do not report new cases out of fear of the stigma attached to the virus. Many die at home for lack of treatment, frequently due to other sicknesses not related to Ebola. Several markets and shops have closed. All prices have increased, especially those of basic food items and disinfectants which are scarce. The sense of isolation is growing. Borders are closed and air companies have stopped flying to and from affected countries.  Big companies have closed their operations and withdrawn their personnel. Even some politicians, including a few ministers, have fled their country to seek safety. Crime and delinquency are on the increase and curfews have been imposed to maintain order and discipline.
Salesians remain in both countries, close to their people. Provincial and National Task Force groups have been set up to coordinate the relief efforts. Their interventions are focused on education, prevention and concrete actions as follows:
• Ghana: the main focus is on prevention.  In dialogue with the Ministry of Health, Don Bosco Youth Networks (DBYN) - our local NGO - is organizing a nationwide prevention campaign to educate the people  by video, audio, stickers, bill boards, text messages, etc.
• Nigeria: The Salesians are focusing on promoting awareness and educational programmes in Lagos to prevent the spread of the disease.
• Liberia: the situation is becoming very serious. Restrictions on gatherings and the movement of people are hindering relief efforts. However, people are in need of food and sanitary materials. Salesians are organizing a programme to feed more than 500 families, providing sanitary materials (chlorine, disinfectants, protective gear, etc).
• Sierra Leone: the situation is also worsening. The government has asked the Salesians to take care of an increasing number of orphans.  Preparations are advanced for an Interim Children Care Centre to receive 120 children who have been affected by the Ebola epidemic. The Salesians of Don Bosco will carry out the registration, in consultation with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health. Doctors Without Borders will collaborate with the screening of the children. The activities in the centre will include non-formal education, counselling, rehabilitation therapy through music, sports, games, etc. The main aim of the programme is to offer immediate support and to reunite the children with their extended families. Members of the Salesian Family will be involved in the day-to-day management of the Centre.
We are very grateful to all who have shown their concern for us and our people during these difficult times, especially our Mission Offices, some Provinces and Salesians, individual friends and benefactors who have offered us their support and concrete help.
A special thanks to Don Angel Fernandez Artime, Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, who has remained very close to our Province since the beginning of the emergency. He has blessed our initiatives and offered us his full support, insisting that “Salesians should be very prudent, not exposing themselves to unnecessary dangers”. On 8 September, Feast of the Birthday of Mary, Don Angel will have a chat on Skype with the Salesians of Sierra Leone and will impart the Blessing of Mary Help of Christians upon the entire Salesian Family. This will be just before the Interim Children Care Centre comes into operation.

Fr Jorge Crisafulli SDB
Provincial, Salesians of Don Bosco
English-speaking West Africa

AFW Press release n.2 - 28.08.14






30th August, 2014 by Laura Marchetti





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