PRESIDENT SIRLEAF LAUNCHES YAI LED COALITION AGAINST EBOLA
A new partnership of community based organizations and groups working through a coordinated fight against Ebola has been launched in Monrovia. The partnership, which is being coordinated by the US based organization Youth Action International currently includes more than 75 organizations and 1,500 community groups working under the banner “Coalition of Organizations Against Ebola in Liberia (COAL).
The launching of the new coalition was held at the Mamba Point Hotel last week and brought together several dignitaries including H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senators Geraldine Doe Sherriff and Jewel Howard Taylor, Representatives Acarius Grey and Saah Joseph, as well as head and representatives of international partner organizations including the U.S. Embassy, UNICEF, CHAL amongst others.
In her remarks at the program, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf admitted that the start of the fight against the Ebola virus disease was rocky and difficult due to the strange nature of the virus, limited capacity, and the lack of initial tools for healthcare workers who are the frontliners in the fight, but pointed out that the fight is now well on course and would be strengthened by the engagement of young people who she said were taking their future into their own hands.
President Sirleaf stressed that the country’s death rate has reflected high numbers because people who died from other illnesses due to the initial impact on the regular healthcare system have been recorded as victims of Ebola due to the circumstances of their deaths and assured that efforts are being made to improve the situation.
The Liberian leader thanked the Youth Action International Executive Director Dr. Kimmie Weeks and the young people for the initiative and promised that with all hands on deck, Ebola will soon be history in Liberia. She rejected projections from international organizations that over one million persons across West Africa will die by January, adding that steps are being taken to reverse these projections.
Speaking earlier, Montserrado County Representatives Acarous Gray and Saah Joseph, Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) head Patricia Kamara and representatives of the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and the U. S. Embassy in Monrovia thanked the coalition of young people for the initiative and expressed the hope that the virus will soon be history in Liberia. They committed to standing with the government and the young people to eradicate the virus from Liberia.
For his part, Youth Action International Executive Director Dr. Kimmie Weeks pointed out that the understanding was not a Youth Action International Initiative, but different youth organizations that have been assembled under the guidance of his organization. He indicated that he made a personal commitment not to leave Liberia until the Ebola virus disease is contained and eradicated from the shores of Liberia.
He pointed out that all member organizations of the coalition numbering over 75 with over 1,500 youths are already working on Ebola-related programs in various communities around the country. The goal, he indicated, is for every person to know how to prevent themselves from the Ebola virus disease and thereby break the chain of transmission.
“Young people are most times efficient, but often get limited or no support. The international community and the government must ensure the empowerment of youth-based organizations that are committed to playing critical roles in the fight against the further spread and eradication of the virus,” Dr. Weeks urged. He admitted that the Ebola battle is a fight for life and survival and that all must be done the end the devastation of the country from the disease.
“UNITED AGAINST EBOLA”
YAI directs resources to to combat deadly virus
The Executive Director of Youth Action International (YAI) Dr. Kimmie Weeks has announced that his organization has increased funding allocations and operations in Liberia in support of efforts to curb the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia. Weeks says that his organization in collaboration with key international partners including SpryteLorianoGlobal, Waves4Water, The Messengers Network, the Burt Family Foundation, Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) and a host of others will work on a series of new initiatives, which are expected to have a significant impact on efforts to eradicate new cases of the deadly virus.
Dr. Weeks outlined that at the grassroots level, the organization will begin training close to 400 of its teachers to form part of community awareness efforts. The organization will partner with close to 100 youth organizations to ensure proper coordination and targeting of community awareness efforts. Weeks says the community awareness programs are essential to ensuring that the average Liberian not only fully believes Ebola is real, but also has hard facts for preventing the virus or understanding how to handle the matter if a family member becomes infected.
“What we really need to ensure is that every single person understands all aspects of Ebola. Everybody knows that name Ebola, but a quick survey we conducted shows that many people do not actually understand it and are ashamed to claim ignorance to something that everybody seems versed about. This is one of the reasons why there is so much confusion and disbelief and we need to work to overcome that.”
In addition, Weeks says YAI and its partners will support other areas including the use of technology to track and monitor cases, the distribution of relief items to target communities, and donations of protective gears to health workers. “We understand that government has a major task on its hands, and strongly believe that this is the time that all sectors of society needs to come together as one to overcome this major crisis,” said Dr. Weeks. He outlined that Youth Action International chapters in high schools and universities in the United States would be heavily engaged in collecting supplies and materials for use in Liberia.
Youth Action International was founded by Kimmie Weeks in 2005 with a mission to support the needs of children and young people in post war African countries. The organization is an international organization based in the United States and has implemented projected in Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
SPECIFIC YAI ANTI EBOLA EFFORTS
Food support for orphanages: As a result of the national focus on Ebola, most of government’s resources have been dedicated to the national crisis and orphanages reported difficulty getting subsidies and supplies for the upkeep of the children. In continuation of its long standing support for orphaned and abandoned children in Liberia, Youth Action International has extended its Ebola response to the provision of monthly food supplies to six orphanages in Monrovia. Read more and see photos
Food support for teachers: In the wake of the Ebola crisis, the Liberian Government announced the indefinite closure of all schools. As a result, hundreds of teachers were left without a source of income. Youth Action International in collaboration with SprtyteLorianoGlobal has set a goal to provide food aid packages to a total of 108 teachers. Read more and see photos
Beds for Liberia: With the numbers of new cases of Ebola rapidly increasing, containment centers have reported that they simply do not have enough beds. When launched, this program will target providing 1,000 beds to support Liberia’s fight against Ebola. Read Kimmie’s commitment to this cause
Community awareness programs: One of the key ways to reduce new cases of Ebola and preventing the spread if the disease is to ensure that all communities in Liberia have access to information about the disease and basic means to prevent infection.
YAI has formed a coalition of close to 75 organizations and community groups with a total membership of more than 1,500 people to carry out an unprecedented awareness campaign in Montserrado and Grand Bassa Counties. Read more and see photos