Sarah Culberson fears for family in Sierra Leone Ebola region

By Jennifer Schlueter

“Everyone is at risk and more than 300 death cases! We are all scared,” Hindo ends his email from Sierra Leone to his sister Sarah Culberson in California. He had sent the email at the end of July asking Sarah for support so he could educate the people in his district and thus prevent the dangerous virus from spreading. In November alone, there have been more than 1,500 new cases in Sierra Leone.

Before Ebola suddenly blew up on the news, Sarah Culberson, founder of the Kposowa Foundation (which builds schools in Sierra Leone) didn’t believe that it would become such a widespread, dangerous epidemic. She had first heard about the disease from her adoptive parents in West Virginia, medical alerts, and the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/). However, thanks to the early information, Sarah and her brother Hindo were able to quickly send out teams to educate villagers in the Bumpe district, where Hindo and the rest of Sarah’s family live.

Hindo briefing his team about strategies to fight Ebola - Courtesy Photo

Hindo briefing his team about strategies to fight Ebola – Courtesy Photo

Because Ebola became so present in the country where Sarah is from, she feared for her family, and felt hopeless. She wanted to fly there and physically help, but realized it was best for her to stay safe, and mobilize as much money as she could to support Hindo and his teams in their sensitization efforts. Despite the alarmingly rising numbers of new infections, Sarah tries to stay positive.

Oakwood School in North Hollywood, the partner-school of Bumpe High School in Sierra Leone, held a bake sale and raised about $200 which Sarah forwarded to Hindo so he could print more posters and purchase buckets and hygiene products for hand-washing stations. Sarah is also in regular Skype contact with students in Bumpe who tell her that they want to go back to school, but can’t, because schools are closed.

Bumpe district is now closed off to visitors and also prevents people from exiting in order to prevent Ebola infection. Hindo’s prevention methods have a huge impact on the region, because, until December, the Bumpe district has only had fivce Ebola cases since the outbreak, all of which came from outsiders, but were quickly contained. Compared to other areas, this is the lowest number of outbreaks in Sierra Leone!

However, as Beacon Media is in constant contact with Hindo, he told us that just a few days ago the number of infected people in the Bumpe district has risen to an alarming 27; partially because the government fails to trace people who have been in close contact with the ill. His most recent email reads: “Our people are always scared of strangers doing investigations about them, and thus, it is only we on the ground who can dig up facts and bring to light suspected cases in our communities. People hide away from strangers coming to line list them -because of the thought that Ebola is a conspiracy. When we meet them, they tell us the truth and say ‘I was in contact with such person who has passed away as a result of the virus.’ The government most times takes a week to quarantine homes or villages where the outbreak has occurred. For this reason, containing the spread is another issue! I am sure resources are still not enough!

“At the moment, we have taken on the lead to do quarantine and isolation immediately there is an outbreak. Three days ago, as we were waiting for the government to quarantine Kamarun village, we quickly distributed buckets and chlorine for hand washing to each household in suspected villages to prevent further outbreak.

A villager holds a bucket - a simple hand washing station - supplied by Hindo - Photo by Hindo Kposowa

A villager holds a bucket – a simple hand washing station – supplied by Hindo – Photo by Hindo Kposowa

“So far, from the 27 infected, we have five infected people in the chiefdom who are undertaking treatment. Many have survived and few have passed away – 45 possible contacts that are not yet infected! See the last photo of a house where both husband and wife have died of the virus!

House in which a couple has succumbed to Ebola - Photo by Hindo Kposowa

House in which a couple has succumbed to Ebola – Photo by Hindo Kposowa

“We are sure of bringing this to an end in the chiefdom in the shortest possible time! Your help to provide food to isolate possible contacts and survivors will be appreciated!

“Have a great weekend and keep us in your prayers!”

Hindo’s sister Sarah believes that what happens in Sierra Leone impacts us in the United States as well, and with little money and effort, WE can make a difference: “It’s important for us to support all parts of the world. We are all connected. It will impact us all if something happens somewhere else.” All of us can help to prevent Ebola from spreading even further and claiming more deaths by providing Hindo with more education and sensitization materials (for a detailed story on Hindo, see last week’s paper). Support Hindo’s mission, which is supported by Beacon Media, by visiting the following link: www.healwestafrica.com

More information and updates with pictures from Hindo can also be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Education-and-Justice-Network

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