Fighting Ebola in West Africa
London, October 17, 2014—The Salvation Army is continuing to address the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, with particular focus on Sierra Leone and Liberia, currently the countries most affected by the outbreak. At least 2,220 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, with a further 890 deaths recorded in Sierra Leone.
The Army has the advantage of already having personnel on the ground. Its response to the Ebola epidemic is being managed through International Headquarters (IHQ), where a monitoring team is in daily contact with Army leaders and project officers running the Ebola response in West Africa. The team is providing a weekly report directly to General André Cox.
Commissioner Charles Swansbury, IHQ’s international secretary for program resources, chairs the Ebola crisis monitoring team, which includes representatives from International Emergency Services, International Health Services, and International Projects and Development Services. “We understand that people want to know what The Salvation Army is doing to combat this terrible situation. I can assure Salvationists and friends that we are acting in a responsive and appropriate manner, seeking to support the Liberia Command [which also oversees the work in Sierra Leone],” said Swansbury. “Reviews and briefings, both internal and with other agencies, have concluded that the Army is doing all that can be reasonably expected.”
In Liberia, the Army is working alongside the government, international and local agencies, and non–governmental organizations (NGOs), which specialize in medical response teams, such as Young Life, the Liberian Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders. These groups are mainly providing medical services, leaving the provision of food and other essentials to the government or other groups. An initial project undertaken by the Army is supporting 5,000 people with food parcels.
The Salvation Army is looking to attend United Nations–organized WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene promotion) and food cluster meetings, which draw together representatives from many NGOs and agencies.
Hygiene education and promotion are important factors in the fight to slow down Ebola. With this in mind, consideration is being given to using teachers from the Army’s 12 schools in Liberia to provide awareness and hygiene education.
In Sierra Leone, plans are in place to provide food support and disinfection materials.
Financial donations to The Salvation Army’s ongoing disaster relief work in Africa can be made online.
by Major John P. Murray
… In His hands.’
Major Pamela McKee (pictured above and below), educator and former principal of the Army’s School for Officer Training in Liberia, Africa (2005), has been serving there since her retirement from active officership in 2013. Via Facebook posts, she shares a story of a friend (not shown) who lost her battle against Ebola.
October 4, 2014—Last night, I had a dream about Leona. I have often worked with her husband, Paul. Yesterday, he drove her to the Island Ebola unit.
Although I didn’t know about her illness until this morning, in my dream, I saw Leona with an angel at each of her shoulders. And I began to pray in great earnest for her.
This afternoon, Paul told me he thought she wouldn’t make it through the night, but she did!
I am reminded of the story in Mark 9 where the disciples had tried to drive out demons, but couldn’t. Jesus’ response was, ‘This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.’
We must continue to keep looking up to Jesus and not become so focused on the problems. God help me to keep my priorities straight and to keep You in focus. Oh, how I praise You for your wonderful presence and power at work in the valleys of life. It is those valleys where we are called to live and to serve.
October 13, 2014—I just received word that Leona lost her fight against the Ebola virus. She was ushered into the presence of the Lord on Sunday afternoon. Please pray for her husband and their four small children. Things like this are so hard to understand. God’s ways are a mystery to me, but His presence is real.
I’m thinking of the words to Commissioner Stanley Ditmer’s song, “I’m In His Hands… I shall not fear, though darkened days may gather round me ….”