We’re thrilled that Sierra Leone has finally been declared free of Ebola. It has been 42 days since the last case of Ebola – a milestone set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggesting that the population is no longer contagious.However, we think it will be a long time before the country can really relax. There are still cases in neighbouring Guinea – a quick hop over the border. And, as we have seen with the Scottish nurse, health complications are still arising in those who have survived.
Although many in the capital of Freetown have been out celebrating, others are more subdued, reminding us of how many lives have been lost – nearly 4,000 in Sierra Leone alone. Mabinty Sesay, one of the Link Trustees in Newton has told us “Really this is not a moment of celebration, it’s a moment of praying and reflect our minds on the past.” Naturally there is still great fear that things could start up again and thousands of lives, families and livelihoods are needing to be rebuilt.
Olney Newton Link Tombola
Each year, the Olney Newton Link run a stall at Dickens of a Christmas – the big Olney Dickensian fair where all the traders dress in Victorian dress and there are plenty more things to see and do. A lovely Christmas event!
This year, come and support us at our Tombola – lots of lovely things to be won! Position of the stall to be confirmed.
Get your vocal cords ready for Christmas!
Join your neighbours and have a lovely evening singing to the residents of Olney and raising money for the town of Newton. We will be meeting at 6.30pm on the Market Place. It’s great fun!
Children’s Lucky Dip and Games
Make sure you come and support the Olney Newton Link stand – a brilliant lucky dip and games for the kids!
The Link is pleased to say that it’s been asked to support the Pineapple Plantation project. The Plantation is a crop being planted by the women of Newton which we first became aware of 2 years ago (when we managed to get a bit of sponsorship from a local company). The women are working really hard to plant thousands of pineapples which will provide an income for their families – a brilliant undertaking which we really hope will provide some badly needed funds.
The plan is to sell some of the fruit to the local juice factory and some will be sold in the markets. Although the project started off very well, things have been badly hindered, both by wildfire and by the Ebola outbreak which killed or disabled a number of the workers. Ebola also stopped social interaction – a serious problem when plantation and harvesting is carried out through teamwork. Last year’s crop was seriously lacking but we’re thrilled that they have started the project again with the usual energy and belief.
Our friend Mabinty from Newton has told us ‘Our business plan is, we decided to seek help from donors to plant 70000 pineapple suckers. We have already planted 20000 last year. This year we have planted 15000. We decided to do it by phases, – every year we do the planting as we continue to seek for funds. Out of those plants we will get suckers from after harvest. The first plants suppose to produce this year but was burnt by wildfire. The products we will sell to the factory and fresh market.’
Mabinty has told us that the cost of the pineapple suckers is 300 leones /sucker (5p/sucker) and that they have to pay someone to clear the land. They plan is to make the project self-financing. The ONL intends to send them funds of £250 for this year’s harvest.
As is common in Africa, the women are a major workforce who are often the only breadwinners within the family. However, they also expected to raise the family. You can read more about the PreSchool and how we are trying to raise funds to help them look after the children whilst allowing them to also work in the fields. See under ‘News – Post Ebola’
Sierra Leone down to a single chain of Ebola virus transmission
By Saffea Gborie (WHO) Aug 18, 2015, 17:06
Freetown, Sierra Leone – 17 August 2015: Use of rapid response teams and strong community involvement in finding Ebola virus disease cases and contacts is yielding results in Sierra Leone. An epidemiological week has now passed with no new Ebola cases for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak.
“This is very good news but we have to keep doing this intensively-working with communities to identify potentially new cases early and rapidly stop any Ebola virus transmission” said Dr Anders Nordstrom, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
The Ebola response has moved to ‘phase 3’, focusing on tracking each and every chain of Ebola virus transmission and close down the remaining chains as quickly as possible. Sierra Leone is now down to a single chain of transmission, which started in Freetown but sparked a cluster of cases in Tonkolili, in the northern region of the country.
Effectively tracking chains of transmission means finding every person who has been in contact with someone proven to be infected with Ebola, monitoring them closely for symptoms for 21 days and rapidly moving them to a treatment centre if they develop symptom of potential Ebola.
In Tonkolili, a young man, who worked in Freetown but returned to his home village every month to bring food and money to his extended family, died in a hospital where he was being treated for malaria. As is done with all deaths, to ensure no case of Ebola is missed, a swab was taken. It tested positive for Ebola.
Tonkolili had not seen a case of Ebola virus disease for more than 150 days, but the lessons learned during their outbreak in December 2014 had not been forgotten. The government, WHO and other UN and international partners sent a rapid response team into the district and worked with the village chief and village taskforce to identify and monitor everyone who had been in contact with the young man.
The entire village of Massessehbeh was then put in quarantine for a period of 21 days, as was Masenga Hospital where the young man died. A water supply was established in the village and food was brought in daily. Psychosocial workers and social mobilizers provided information and support, while contact tracers checked everyone daily for symptoms of Ebola.
Two more people, both of them from the young man’s family, developed symptoms and tested positive for Ebola. They were treated at an Ebola Treatment Centre which had been on standby and run by International Medical Corps (IMC). There they were cared for by a team that included Ebola survivors, who provided much of the physical and psychological care they needed. Both are now recovering.
Last Friday, 595 people ‘graduated’ from quarantine in Tonkolili. This included patients, pregnant women, nurses, doctors and other staff who were released early on Friday morning from the hospital where they had been confined for 21 days. Later the same day, a formal ceremony was held at Massessehbeh during which the President of Sierra Leone formally cut the quarantine tape.
Joyful villagers streamed through the cut quarantine tapes, women linking arms to dance along the road, children beating water bottles in time to the singing and dancing. However, the occasion was not joyful for everyone. 43 people remain quarantined until the end of this week. Another 38 people remain in quarantine in Freetown until the 29th of August.
The Link are thrilled and relieved to hear that a vaccine to end Ebola has finally been found. Trials which have been taking place in Guinea (neighbouring Sierra Leone) have proved to be 100% successful.
We say ‘finally found’ as nearly 4,000 people have died in Sierra Leone (3585 quoted on National Ebola Response Centre, 3951 quoted by the BBC and Centers for Disease Control). 11,284 people have died internationally. However, scientists have heralded the vaccine as remarkable due to the ‘unprecedented speed with which the development of the vaccine and the testing were carried out’ (Guardian newspaper, 31 July 2015).
Yet again, the country will have to rebuild itself. This is desperately sad as following the horrific Civil War, Sierra Leone felt that it was finally getting back on its feet. Although listed as number 183 out of 187 countries on the United Nations ‘Human Development Index 2013’ – a rank which shows how a country compares to the rest of the World in terms of life expectancy/poverty/education etc. – Sierra Leone had expectations of great improvements and was slowly climbing the list.
The 2015 UNDP index is yet to be released. However, we suspect that this upward trend has been brought to a halt. Life expectancy was quoted as being 45.5 years in 2013 – a terribly young age. What will it be in 2015?
One of the biggest catastrophes in Sierra Leone is the number of orphan children that have been created. These children have watched their Mums, Dads, brothers, sisters and community surrounding them die – they must take priority. Because of poverty levels (72.68% below the poverty line in 2013), taking on care of the children is a huge undertaking. Even though Ebola has hopefully been wiped out, we mustn’t stop helping!
Trials of the vaccine have been funded by the World Health Organisation and a number of countries such as Norway, Canada and Great Britain. The British Government provided £1m of funding and has pledged more to ensure testing continues and is started in Sierra Leone and other countries.
For more information on the vaccine, follow this link to the Guardian newspaper website:
A large portion of this consignment was First Aid; very relevant to their current situation.
In Newton, 105 children have lost parents and are now being looked after by single parents, extended family or friends. Many of these people are working or have other things which keep them from full time childcare. There is no such things as a ‘State Benefits’ system in Sierra Leone – you have to work to stay alive.
We need your help now. Can you help us to raise £10,000 to build a new ‘Preschool’? This school will provide care during daytime hours. The Committee in Newton (Olney Newton Link) have told us that it’s desperately needed.
The scheme proposes that a building will be constructed (sketch above) to accommodate 105 children. There will be 3 rooms (20x30ft) with a large covered veranda, staff room/ office and store room (10x15ft). At the present rate of exchange, it is expected to cost approximately £10,000 to build – not a large amount compared to UK prices!
Please help! It’s desperately needed – lives have been devastated.
See the page on this website titled ‘how you can help’