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MONROVIA: A newly formed community group, The Emancipation Project (TEP), says it is targeting to reach, within 21 days, more than 18,000 single households as part of its voluntary contributions in buttressing government of Liberia and its partners’ efforts in containing the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).

According to TEP, it hopes to reach 864 houses on a daily basis – meaning each of volunteer is expected to reach a milestone of 36 houses each day.

As of the 25th of August, Liberia’s Ministry of Health says it has recorded over 1,403 cases and 782 deaths resulting from the disease; and indications are that these figures may increase in the weeks to come.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 20,000 people may be affected by the virus in the countries that are affected. Earlier, the Liberian government has insisted that the virus outbreak has overwhelmed its capacities; and called on partners both at home and abroad, citizens and residents to play their part in the fight.

Against that backdrop, TEP says it is piloting its first intervention in Montserrado District #2 where it hopes to reach over 18,000 homes – thanks to the Liberian government that provided the group Ten Thousand ($10,000) United States Dollars through the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The US$ 10,000 grant from the government is being used to set up a command structure, underwrite some administrative costs and pay per dime to volunteers. As part of its contribution, TEP has provided vehicles and other logistics to support the initiative. Individual community members, too, have volunteered to help TEP fight the killer-disease.

District #2 is one of the hardest hit places in Monrovia and the group’s intervention is seen as the right decision, that’s according to Representative Sekou S. Konneh, who is, in –kind, supporting the initiative. The initiative is being launched from Rep. Kanneh’s district office located at Amegashi and is considered the command center where a team of professional organization-developers manage the project.

The initiative’s Lead Coordinator is Liberian journalist Samuka V. Konneh. In a press release issued in Monrovia over the weekend, Mr. Konneh said his group has recruited and already deployed more than 25 youth volunteers in twelve of the nineteen communities in district #2. He begun by lauding the Liberian government for the collaboration.

“We laud the contribution and collaboration of the Liberian government. Ten Thousand is a very small amount under the circumstance, however, just deciding to work with us as new as we are, is a very laudable step. We thank President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly for their leadership. We know there are difficulties.

“We have over 25 volunteers in the field already. We know this is not sufficient but we are inclined that saving even one life is a big success. So, if we are able to reach 18,000 houses, no doubt we can save a lot of lives and this is something we all need to do at every level of the communities we live in,” the Liberian journalist said.

The former Public Agenda newspaper editor, who now works as a management consultant for the USAID funded Civil Society and Media Leadership (CSML) program implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) Liberia, described the work of his team and the volunteers on the field.

“Apart from our awareness and education components, we have developed a database on contact tracing for would-be EVD carriers. This system compiles relevant data on people suspected of, sick from and / or dead from Ebola. It also traces people who might have come in contact with people infected with the virus. We’ve grouped these contacts as either primary and secondary contacts. Our intent is to share these data with the government of Liberian and its partners like the MSF, WHO, Samaritan Purse, etc, so they may know how many people might be at stake in these communities. No doubt, this is one thing that lacking in our fight against the virus.

“Our volunteers have these forms with them in the field, ensuring that they track every incident of a possible Ebola. They also have a system that collects data on their education and awareness efforts. This allows us to see how many homes are taking protective measures against the virus. It gives us a sense of the level of individual prevention. These are important data that inform government and partners’ decision making processes,” Mr. Konneh lamented.

He ended a passionate appeal to government, partners, organizations and individuals to support his group in reaching out to more people in time. “This is just a pilot. With more support and collaborations, we can do more. Ebola is not just about how many buckets and sanitizers, or how much chlorine or chloride one uses. We are now beyond that point. We need to know how many might be carrying the virus, where to find them, when and how to find them so they wouldn’t contaminate a lot more people. In the absence of this, I don’t see where and how we can stop this virus from killing more people,” the IREX consultant noted.

The Emancipation Project (TEP) was recently organized by a group of young people that often amassed for social purposes in the Stephen Tolbert Estate area of Gardnersville. The agreed that meeting to just drink atayee and argue sports and politics could be taken to another level where they may help and impact their community and society.

STORY BY:
Samuka V. Konneh

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