The many steps to an effective Ebola response.

Posted on by More Than Me

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.

Our ambulance in action.
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

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.

A comprehensive chart illustrating how our Community Based Ebola-Free coalition works.

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.

Iris our school nurse led the training today (she got her training from UNICEF). We are partnering with the Ministry of Health to make sure everyone in West Point has the facts around #ebola .
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

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.

Esther, an Ebola survivor whose parents both died of Ebola, receiving care at HOPE21.

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.

“Being a bystander to suffering is not an option.”
A photo posted by katiemeyler (@katiemeyler) on Sep 9, 2014

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.

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Meet Pearlina

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Every day our team works to fill the gaps in the Ebola response plan for West Point and other areas of Monrovia. Our staff sees heartbreaking stories, but also local heros stepping up where help is needed. On Monday, Katie decided to follow an ambulance to Redemption Hospital to figure out what happens when patients are brought to an Ebola Treatment Center. What started out as a curiosity to learn more, turned into a beautiful story of hope. (Photos and captions pulled from Katie’s instagram: @katiemeyler)

I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. This sweet pumpkin just watched her mom pass in the ambulance. She was not symptomatic. I pray with everything in me, she’s ok. A woman is looking for the rest of her family but in case they can’t find her, I told them we would find someone to care for her. #hard #reality

I can’t imagine what she was thinking. I got to talk to her a bit and made her smile small.

#precious #girl

This is Gideon. He’s a nurse at Redemption Hospital. He loves using a telescope to identify sickness. His dream job is working in a lab to do the results of #ebola suspects. He’s mega compassionate. He and Pearlina have a special bond already. I picked him up to check on kids from yesterday.

Remember that little girl from the ambulance who watched her mother die? Well, she’s healthy and showing no signs of #ebola . No one wanted to take her because they are afraid and it’s not safe for her at the hospital. So she’s going to be quarantined at the @morethanmeorg guest house with toys, love, Disney movies, and our social workers. Her name is Pearlina and she’s 3 years old. She’s our little pearl child. We are looking for her extended family in the mean time. #believing she will stay healthy! Please pray with me.

We bought her a bunch of clothes, food, a stuffed animal, a DVD player. She literally tried on all her clothes including every pair of underwear. It was such a joy to see her happy. I sat in the corner and just smiled with tears of happiness for her health and life. Dear God please keep her healthy.

Trying on outfit #3. She keeps calling nurse Gideon “Papa.”

Outfit #4 :)  

Beautiful Pearlina. Please pray for her health right now. We will keep you updated.

 

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Forbes Magazine Highlights MTM’s Fight Against Ebola

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“And she promised them that Ebola won’t win, ‘Our girls can and will be the next leaders.’”

Tom Watson, Forbes

Our team is working on the front lines, determined to lay waste to this horrible epidemic, but we remain steadfast in our mission to educate the future leaders of a country with so much potential. We will do everything in our power to ensure that our girls can return to school. We will not let Ebola or any other blockade stand in the way of our children’s futures. Now is the time to act. Help make my birthday wish come true.

DONATE NOW.

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The world is starting school this week, she is not.

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I met Patience Wesseh when she was 8 years old. She was selling bananas. She’s 16 now and she has epilepsy. During an episode, she was cooking and fell into the fire. Thankfully, we provide healthcare for our students, and Patience received life-saving treatment.

People make fun of her now, but she so easily forgives them. She’s always been very helpful and loving. So after the burned face, Macintosh news, and now Ebola, she just lost her house and all her belongings on Tuesday because of the ocean erosion. She’s staying with friends.

Patience doesn’t believe Ebola is real in West Point. I cried, looking into her eyes and said, “Do you trust me? If so, I just came from the MSF [Doctors Without Borders] Ebola clinic and they have patients who have Ebola from West Point. If you don’t believe me please, all I ask is don’t touch anyone, stay at home for the next 15 days, we’ll bring you food and whatever you need. I’m not the government, I’m not the police, I’m just a crazy white girl from the USA who cares about you and I’d do anything to keep you safe. Please. So many people love you.” She smiled. I hope I got through to her.

With all of these challenges, Patience needs us now more than ever. We are putting together a plan that will help her and all the other MTM students in West Point. So much still needs to be done – awareness, education, supplies, healthcare, communication, everything. As soon as we’ve finalized our emergency response plan, I will let you know how you can help. 

These girls are my everything. I’ll never give up.

Together we can #beatEbola,

Katie
racingheartblog.tumblr.com

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An interview with Regina

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We asked Regina, age 15, some questions about love, equality and being a girl. Can you relate to her answers?
We sure can.

What does being a girl mean to you?
Regina: If you are a girl then you must have encouragement and plan for your life. You must also have determination and self esteem.

What do you think about equality?
R: To my own understanding, equality means everyone is equal because God’s created everyone. Equality also means that you should give respect to everyone whether white or black, rich or poor, small or big, and smart or slow.

How do you show love?
R: How I love myself is by coming to school every day, studying my lessons, participating in class, listening to my teachers, following instructions, and showing every one love. I can also love my family by making peace when there is conflict, giving everybody my opinion when there is no good advice and helping them when they are in need of anything. I can also love my friends by caring for them when they are sad or upset, by helping them with their works when they are lot by also giving them good advice to make a rightful or good decisions.

What does More Than Me mean to you?
R: More Than Me means lots of things. Example, it means making a big difference, it means to help others who are in need, it also means to change the world, my country, and my community.

What do you hope for for girls not in school?
R: The girls who are not in school I hope they should fight hard and make their dreams comes true by asking for support so that they can be in school, but I think they are lack of support so that is why they are not in school. But by the help of More Than Me, I think they will be in school.

Regina won her 1st class spelling bee this week!

Regina is right. A lot of girls in her neighborhood lack the support to go to school. If you’d like to be a support system for a new girl in school, you can change her story today. We wish you a Happy International Women’s Day, and we hope you celebrate the amazing women and girls in your life!

Love,

The MTM Family

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You text, she wins.

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What happens when you text to give? You donate $10 to our GlobalGiving Project – Change Her Story – Get 50 More Girls in School! Here’s a breakdown for ya:

We are adding 50 girls to the MTM Academy next year. We chose this number because we want to focus on real outcomes for the girls, rather than scale. We want to grow in a way that makes sense.

Last week we had a spelling bee and we thought, wow. Last year, a lot of these girls were on the street selling, and now they’re in school spelling. Competing in a spelling bee, even! Getting to read in a library and learn how to use computers. Mastering phonics, addition and subtraction. Receiving regular check ups and deworming pills. Eating two healthy meals and feeling safe each day.

We need your help. Give #50moregirls a chance at a brighter future by sending them to school at the MTM Academy.

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B’s Legacy Lives On!

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We experienced a tragic loss last semester. In December, one of our beautiful young women, Beatrice, lost her life due to an enlarged heart and worms that had infected her stomach and lungs. Beatrice fought up until the last moment and somehow grasped, at 13 years old, that her life and her pain could be about more than just herself. Three days before she passed, she said, “I am fighting so that no other student, no other young woman has to be in this condition, has to lie in this hospital bed.” Her death shook our community, but we refuse to let her strength and spirit pass along with her.
This month, we opened the “Be Your Best Self” Library in honor of Beatrice with support from the British Ambassador. And two weeks ago, we dewormed 124 students. It wasn’t beautiful watching our students struggling to pass the worms, but with every worm-free stomach comes the possibility of a healthier, longer life. We felt Beatrice’s spirit smiling down on us seeing that we are doing everything in our power to continue her fight that no student will have to lie in that hospital bed.

We will continue to grow our library and more and more books have been coming in. Thank you to everyone who has supported the “Be Your Best Self” Library thus far! If you’re interested in becoming a supporter, please email [email protected].

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Your App Questions Answered.

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What is the More Than Me App? The More Than Me App asks you to think more carefully about your daily purchases. Instead of buying a $2 coffee, you could #forgo that money and donate it to More Than Me. Did you know that $2 equals the price of one dose of malaria medication? Your daily decisions really can have a #BIGimpact.

Does the App use real money? Yes. When you decide to forgo an item, you choose the amount you would have paid for it, and that amount gets donated to More Than Me.

Why should I forgo? Besides the kudos you’ll get from all your friends, we have a special Valentine’s Day challenge for you. Forgo $25 this week and you’ll get a personalized valentine from the girls!

Why else should I forgo? Well, because it will make your heart smile. And that’s a promise.

Download the app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/more-than-me/id783497664?mt=8 and email [email protected] with any questions! #Forgo #forthegirls today. We know you want to!

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Princess Matters.

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Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Here are some facts that shed light on the context our girls live in:

AllAfrica.com recently wrote an article about the FIRST person convicted of human trafficking in Liberia. Our founder, Katie, wanted YOU to hear her response:

Dear More Than Me Family,

I just read the “All Africa” story about child slavery in Liberia. I’m angry. It’s just not okay the way these young children are being treated. I don’t need to read about it in the news because I know these children. Many of them were our girls’ stories before they came to the Academy. Princess, who at 8, lived with her Grandma, but had a full-time job selling water in the pouring rain or under the beating hot sun. She had never gone to school, but now she’s enrolled in the MTM Academy.  Or Musu, who at age 6 sold peanuts from the top of her head in the slums wearing her broken flip flops. She followed me and hid every time I’d look back at her. Now Musu is also enrolled in the Academy. For our 120 girls, it’s not just school. The Academy is the only safe place they have and they don’t ever want to go home.

Every single day other children walk past and stare through our gates. They have buckets or wheelbarrows of used clothes and it breaks everything in me, I wonder what they think. I wonder how they feel. Sometimes I go out and talk to them and kiss them and play with them. Other times, I try as hard as I can to ignore them. The needs inside our gates are already overwhelming. I think of Mother Teresa. She couldn’t physically help all the time, but she loved. I try to too; I want to be that. 

No young child, Liberian, American, Pink, Green or Yellow should be hungry on the street working. I’m the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I would give my life for these children a million times over. I don’t get it.  I want to scream, but since that doesn’t really do anything, may our work with MTM scream to the world. There is something so much bigger than just ourselves, and may its impact echo throughout the world.

Princess Matters,

Katie

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#GetStreet with us.

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We are in awe of your support. Thank you for spreading the word and helping girls get off the street. Tomorrow is Match Day! Where will you be at noon ET, 9am PT? (Hint: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/morethanme-girls-academy/)

Your #getstreet photos are taking Facebook by storm! (click on an image to make it larger):

How to #getstreet:

Invite your friends to join this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/547026155384944/

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 3rd, at noon ET (9am PT) give to get girls off the street – https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/morethanme-girls-academy/

Don’t see your photo up there? Post it to our Facebook page and we’ll add it!
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124

mtm girls in school

464,112

Global Supporters

106

countries represented