The founder of a children’s organisation based in Sierra Leone is concerned the spread of Ebola could reach some of those ithelps to carefor.
StevenArgent, who lives in Campbells Creek near Castlemaine, iscalling on the public to raise funds to help his organisation, OrphFund, take steps to prevent theEbola outbreak reaching villages of children inSierra Leone.
Mr Argent founded OrphFund in 2005 and has used the organisation to helpbuild traditional homes, primary schools andsecondary schools for children in remote villages, mostly in Sierra Leone andKenya.
The not-for-profitconductsinterviews with familiesin remote villages to determine who the most vulnerable children are, sends in teams of unpaidWestern volunteers to set up appropriate facilities,which arethen run bylocal,paid workers and teachers.
Mr Argent said the organisation had started out with 40 children in the remote village of Kamakwie, and now had about 2000 children across about five different schools and villages across Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is consideredone of the two most affected countries caught up in the Ebola virus’smost recentoutbreak, whichis causing concern among health authorities because of its spread.
Mr Argent describedSierra Leone as being close to the epicentreof the outbreak and the worst hit.
He said sanitation issues were a concern in some of the villages, especially because of some aspects of localculture.
“It’s not unusual to shake hands for the entire time you are speaking to someone,” he said.
“We’ve gotwater tanks full of chlorinated water so people wash properly.”
He said another concern wasthe rising cost of food and supplies.
“The costofchlorinated soap hastripled,” he said.
“We do need money for it, the cost of essentials is going up, we can’t just increase what we’ve got coming in (without additional help).”
He said initially, about five or six weeks ago,his local team did not think Ebolawas an issue, but that had changed when aboutthree weeks ago a leading doctor inSierra Leone died because of the virus.
“That made people react,” Mr Argent said.
“It’s something we’ve had to set up an appeal for, we’reconcerned we won’t be able to protect our kids if it gets into our centres.
“All of them are a concern, you realise they don’t have the resources. Here we can stamp things out quickly.”
Mr Argent said what struck the biggest chord with himwas seeingpictures of “absolutely empty, desolate streets” inSierra Leone’scapital, Freetown.
“When I saw the photos of the capital empty, it just seems really apocalyptic,” he said.
“That’s scary in a place so usually full of bustling streets and busy markets.
“There is talk now of a 30-day curfew.”
To help Orphund’s Ebola campaignappeal, visit www.mycause苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au/page/79501/emergencyebolaresponseforourkidsinsierraleone
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