When More Than Me began, our mission was clear: to get girls from the West Point slum in Liberia off the street and into school by providing them with an education and supplementary services like healthcare and meals to support them for long-term success. Our goal was to ensure that when they graduated, they would decide what came next in their lives.
Our More Than Me Academy did just that last year for 124 girls. But since Ebola came to Liberia in March, it became clear that to ensure opportunity for our students in the future, and to keep them safe, our goals would have to evolve. As a result, we are now working with a coalition of community groups, local leaders, government offices, and NGOs to stop Ebola in Monrovia.
We know that as long as there is Ebola in Liberia, our girls and other vulnerable children are at risk. So we are fighting with everything we are made of to end this epidemic that terrorizes our children and their communities.
This shift has been rooted in our knowledge of the communities in which we work and our network that has been built through years of experience. After meeting with residents and leaders in West Point during its quarantine and assessing urgent needs that were not being met by existing services, More Than Me formed the Community Based Ebola-Free Coalition to fill these gaps. With our partners, the coalition provides an immediate response to life-saving community needs in order to end the Ebola epidemic. This coalition is working aggressively and relentlessly to educate and provide information to the community about Ebola, identify and treat the sick, cremate the dead and help reintegrate survivors — while also supporting children and families of those affected.
Our coalition home base at the More Than Me Academy serves as the headquarters of this project. Meetings and trainings to keep staff safe are held here, meals are served to field workers, and supplies are stored for long-term inventory. Alongside the Ministry of Health and the Intensive Ebola Outreach Team, we have seven team leaders who coordinate our 240 outreach workers to educate the community of West Point. If any outreach worker comes across a sick individual, the home healthcare team comes in and works to properly diagnose the illness, and then transport any suspected cases via our ambulance to an Ebola Treatment Unit.
Our household communication team is made up of licensed social workers who work directly with patients to provide support and stay connected with their families to provide updates on their health. If and when Ebola is confirmed in a family, our coalition partner Action Against Hunger (ACF) works to quarantine the household and takes all measures to prevent the spread of Ebola within the community. The Liberian Red Cross provides safe and timely cremation services that treat deaths in the community with dignity, and families that have experienced a loss receive additional counseling and support. Our goal is to ensure that all survivors are reintegrated, and that no families are left alone in coping with Ebola and its aftermath.
Since our coalition was set in place, we’ve seen major results that prove our model for fighting against Ebola is working. During the week of September 19th, there were 30 suspected Ebola cases out of 49 ill West Point residents, and 12 residents resisted treatment. Four weeks later, suspected cases fell to 14, with no runaway patients. Our educational outreach teams have reached over 3,472 homes, and counseled over 7,458 residents. Our work was so effective that the Ministry of Health asked us to replicate this model in 5 more Monrovia communities.
Beyond the coalition, we’ve identified the need for children who have been abandoned by Ebola to have a place to go. We are in the process of turning our guest house into HOPE 21 (Housing Observation and Pediatric Evaluation for 21 days), an observation and care center for children under 18 who have been exposed to and orphaned, abandoned, or neglected as a result of Ebola.
Children who have been exposed to Ebola will be taken in under observation for a 21-day quarantine. After 21 days, they will be reintegrated back into their community with the help of family tracing and guardian identification by social workers. While under care, the children will receive medical, educational, and recreational services and have access to emotional support for healing.
Our work is far from over, but we’re fully committed to stopping the spread of Ebola and helping the survivors and families impacted. THANK YOU for the support you’ve given us this far – it’s made it possible for us to act quickly and decisively in a fluctuating environment – and to save lives.
We will continue to update you on these projects as they evolve. If you’d like to support our ongoing efforts to end Ebola, please do so here! In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest updates.Tweet