CHICAGO (ELCA) – Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has provided $275,000 to support the work of Lutheran companion churches in both African countries.
The funds were disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response International to ELCA companion churches and partners responding to the immediate needs of people impacted by the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 8,500 people have died due to Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“There are some signs the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone is getting better, (but) Ebola is more than just a health crisis. Ebola also has a devastating impact on the livelihoods in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for Lutheran Disaster Response International. “Women and children are particularly vulnerable.”
“One of my proudest moments as a Lutheran came when Mrs. Roselyn Kawah, (chairperson) of a concerned women group in Monrovia, enthusiastically expressed her gratitude to the Lutheran Church at a presentation ceremony a few weeks ago,” said the Rev. Jensen Seyenkulo, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. “Mrs. Kawah spoke of the enormous challenges the country faces and how the Lutheran Church has been a shining ray of light in this bleak situation.”
“Although we still have the aftermath of Ebola to deal with, there are very few new cases in Liberia today,” said Seyenkulo. “Liberians have learned a lot. Even these improvements can partly be attributed to our partners’ accompaniment. We are grateful, very grateful.”
The ELCA has responded in the following areas:
+$10,000 helped cover air-freight costs for Global Health Ministries to ship personal protective equipment to Monrovia. This was at the request of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Global Health Ministries provides medical supplies and funding for health care programs in Lutheran churches in 20 countries.
+$85,000 to the Lutheran Church in Liberia provided food assistance of oil, rice and fish to nearly 3,000 households in six territorial areas. Food supplies were necessary because many areas were under quarantine in an effort to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.
+$50,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone provided oil, rice and fish to 4,750 individuals who were under quarantine.
+$50,000 to Lutheran Development Service in Liberia to help raise awareness and share messages about Ebola symptoms and prevention methods to 4,500 individuals in Liberia. The funds also provided for a contractor to ensure that the construction of an isolation center at Phebe Hospital and the School of Nursing meets WHO standards. Phebe Hospital is a Lutheran hospital and is the largest public health institution in Liberia.
+$80,000 to the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone to support the prevention of the Ebola virus in two districts and 180 communities through various activities, including awareness and distribution of bleach and water containers.
Vorona said moving forward Lutheran Disaster Response will “shift its major Ebola efforts from immediate response to primary attention to recovery needs.”
He said the ELCA will provide $146,500 to support the following programs:
+Strengthening health systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone as an essential component of an ELCA long-term strategy
+Support to orphans and youth affected by Ebola in Liberia
+Promotion of proper hygiene and safe drinking water in Sierra Leone
+Income generation and job creation in Liberia and Sierra Leone
Lutheran Disaster Response provides assistance to survivors of natural disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. This support is carried out, both domestically and internationally, in coordination with local affiliates – social ministry organizations, agencies, partners and international companion churches – located in the disaster-affected communities.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com