Today, West Africa has been declared free of the Ebola virus after 42 days without a confirmed case of the disease in Liberia.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been the most severe outbreak of the disease in history and resulted in over 11,000 deaths.
YMCAs in Sierra Leone and Liberia trained young community volunteers who reached more than 80,000 people in their communities with life-saving information on Ebola. Meet the young people who took direct action to help end a humanitarian crisis.
Jenneh, 20, Liberia
Survivors of Ebola worked with Liberia YMCA and their peers to ensure others in their community understood the risks of Ebola, and to reduce stigma and discrimination against survivors. Jenneh went from being in intensive care to overcome stigma in her community to become a peer educator and help fight the outbreak.
“I told the YMCA peer educators I was sharing my story with other survivors to make them strong. They told me it was good, but they could train me to do it even better and I can also work with other young people in my community. I received training support as a peer educator for the YMCA and I became a peer educator in my community to increase awareness of Ebola. I’m proud that I became part of the YMCA family, because it allowed me to help prevent the spread of Ebola and work with people affected by it.” Read Jenneh’s story…
Jestina, 25, Sierra Leone
Jestina is a young peer educator trained by Sierra Leone YMCA. Her efforts helped change attitudes and perceptions in a period of uncertainty caused by fear and misinformation.
“Doors are being open to us as peer educators in order for us to tell them the reality about the disease.
“Chiefs, Councillor, religious leaders, representatives from different youth groups and other key stakeholders in the community are embracing our message.” Read Jestina’s story…
Ramulutai, 19, Sierra Leone
The peer educators, trained by Sierra Leone YMCA distributed posters and leaflets and organised mass mobilisation events in their communities to help end the spread of the lethal virus. The young peer educators’ actions meant slum dwellers, some of the most vulnerable to the outbreak, had a better understanding on how to prevent the spread of the virus. They are also now better prepared to stop other disease outbreaks in the future.
Nineteen-year-old peer educator Ramatulai reached people in Oloshoro slum community with this key information at the start of the outbreak.
“I was so happy when we came up with the initiative to sensitise our community about Ebola virus,” she said “I enjoyed it because I always loved talking and advocating to people in the community. Ebola is a deadly disease and has nearly killed 200 people in Sierra Leone and it is alarming. That is why we appreciate the support from YMCA.
“Leaflets and posters were distributed around every part of the Oloshoro especially in areas where people mostly congregate such as water points, mosques, schools and where groups of young people like to spend time. I believe the sensitisation will help to prevent the spread of the virus especially in the coastal slum settlements. That is why we are happy to tell people about the disease and how deadly it is so that our Oloshoro community will be safe.” Read Ramatulai’s story…
Thank you for your donations to our Ebola Outbreak Emergency Appeal. The impacts of Ebola have been far-reaching for young people and their communities and we will continue to work with YMCAs in West Africa to help them to rebuild their lives.