Liberia (EFCA) — Editor’s Note: many villagers are suspicious of official attempts to combat Ebola. Sierra Leone has just emerged from a controversial three-day curfew to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Although the following blog post focuses on work in Liberia and was written a month ago, author Jordan Mogck highlights several of the challenges facing Ebola Response Teams anywhere they work.
Given the recent attacks on Red Cross workers in Guinea as well as the eight murders of an Ebola health team, this article can help you understand what medical workers confront as well as how you can help.
The EFCWA Ebola Response Team (EERT) is a national church-based response out of the rising needs seen by the leaders of the Evangelical Free Churches of West Africa in response to the deadly Ebola Virus disease that has claimed over 1,000 lives in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
This fast-growing church movement with membership in the three countries agreed together with the leadership of ReachGlobal to responds to this national catastrophe. As reported from EFCWA leadership and the Ebola Response Team coordinator, these are the top three challenges they are faced with in their efforts:
Many people in villages and communities that we are reaching cannot read and write. The few educated cannot read comprehensively, and their messages are widely respected by the majority. The need for the church to engage in quality education with partners more intentionally after the Ebola crisis is of great need. Many are dying because of the lack of knowledge.
- Diverse religious perceptions
Diverse religious perception of the cause of Ebola in Liberia and their proposed religious solution have served to confuse and frustrate many. Many religious clergy consider the outbreak either as “a curse on Liberia because the president’s son and others are promoting homosexuality,” or “This is the end times, and there’s nothing we can do about it because God said it will happen.”
Others are promoting religiously-conceived hygiene methods at the expense of sound medical advice. For example, one church is calling on people to use salt for their protection. They are buying it at the expense of their life, which actively undermines our efforts. After three days of national fasting, Liberians woke up to the calls of relatives in Monrovia to “bathe with salt placed in hot water before 6 a.m. This will bring the spread of Ebola to a complete halt.” This rumor went wide across the country, and many participated.
- Travel limitations
Our inability to travel at our convenience and desire due to fear of riding in congested vehicles that ply the roads around Liberia. This will hinder our ability to educate and train the churches to respond as most of our own EFCWA pastors cannot adequately develop their positions for the battle against Ebola, and they live in remote villages that rental cars cannot go.
How you can help
Be in prayer for the teams as they educate people about the virus, assist them in protocols, and teach prevention. Pray for Gospel opportunities.