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Jun9TueAn interview with Commissioner Charles Swansbury June 9, 2015
The Salvation Army is an active member of the Ebola emergency response committee in Liberia, which includes all the government agencies and international donors. The committee meets regularly to help coordinate the work of responding to the pandemic outbreak.
- Filed Under:
- World Missions
When Ebola emerged in West Africa in early 2014, The Salvation Army worked to help prevent its spread, providing sanitizer and sterilizing chemicals; gloves, mouth guards and safety buckets; and protective wear for medical professionals.
Recently, members of The Salvation Army's International Headquarters Ebola Crisis Team visited Liberia to see firsthand the Army's ongoing work. New Frontier Chronicle spoke with Commissioner Charles Swansbury, international secretary for program resources, for an update.
How would you briefly describe or assess The Salvation Army's response to the Ebola epidemic?
Response has been undertaken within the capacity of The Salvation Army Liberia Command, using local teams and resources.
One of the greatest accolades was when one of the Liberian health coordinators commented that The Salvation Army has been filling the gaps that other agencies haven't been able to meet.
In response to the Ebola outbreak the Army has implemented several emergency projects:
- Ebola awareness campaign and psychosocial counseling for Ebola survivors
- Emergency supplies and food distribution
- Support of Ebola victims
- Hygiene promotion and prevention materials in both Liberia and Ghana
Much of this work has been the provision of food, water and emergency resources to communities that were restricted in movement or otherwise isolated because of Ebola, along with the provision of washing and disinfecting measures to combat transmission of the virus by contamination.
What are the long-term plans for continued response?
The following community projects are either underway or in the latter stages of planning prior to implementation:
- Food distribution in Sierra Leone
- Children Support Project for orphans and vulnerable children that have been directly affected by Ebola
- Farmers Support Project
- Back to school support
- Health center reopening
It is recognized that with all schools and small clinics in the country having been closed for eight months there have been huge needs to prepare the facilities for re-opening. Many of the buildings were used as temporary shelters; others have been vandalized, such that without additional support these might not recover.
What was the goal of the visit to Liberia?
A number of emergency projects are drawing to a close and other long-term redevelopment projects will commence over the next few months. A site visit was deemed as being helpful to assess and develop the concept notes.
Further, Salvation Army schools and the health clinic in Liberia have recently re-opened, such that it was beneficial to assess the effectiveness of the project support that has been allocated for these purposes.
A follow-up report will provide much-needed insight as to how the next phases of the intervention might be more effective and appropriate.
What is the current greatest need connected to Ebola?
The current needs connected with the Ebola outbreak are to restore the opportunities for people to resume their normal, everyday activities. People need jobs, homes, opportunities for education, health care facilities, resources—many of which have been disrupted over the past months.
Those bereaved and adversely affected need to have their trust rebuilt, their confidence restored, their motivation renewed.
The church can be part of that process—in fact it is the best environment in which these can be re-established.