The People of COVID Response - June, Liberia, thank
Daniel Matwey (Guelph, ON)
Jeremiah and Claudia Eastman (Brampton, ON)
Wendy Page (Dundas, ON)
For helping them complete health & hygiene training
A message from the community
it is by the grace of God that I can write this note of appreciation. Our government has been encouraging to move NGO's to distribute materials and to invest in COVID education. We are so happy that your gift has allowed us to participate in this important step to prepare people for the worst.
We have been designated as one of the Nation's essential services and asked to work throughout the pandemic. We also have experience working through the worst Ebola epidemic in history. As a result, we are in a perfect position to take your gift and bear good fruit.
We continue with assistance in making handwashing stations. And we are providing disinfection solution to clean pump handles between uses.
We continue to put in more water points, to bring safe water to those with no source that is good and to lessen the crowding in larger communities where there is a need for more pumps. The hygiene team has been busy and with the new handouts and display boards, their education workshops are going really well.
To spread the covid preventative measures even wider than our teams are capable of, the radio spots, social media promotion and Highway Billboards provide the broader sweep in areas more populated in the city and in areas where we do not presently have scheduled water projects.
We are doing our best, but our best got a lot better because of your assistance.
Rev Stephen Varfee
Some community details (provided by our in-country partners)
As this month begins, the number of confirmed people in Africa infected with COVID approaches 200,000. However, in countries like Liberia, the reported death-toll exceeds 40%. Both of these statistics point to one glaring fact: there are very few COVID tests done in Liberia, or all of Africa for that matter. The number of actual cases is much, much higher than reported and many people die and are buried in remote villages without ever being tested. As a result, there is a huge risk of the pandemic being spread widely if extreme cautions are not taken right away.
This is not just a Liberian or African issue. The global impact of this pandemic reminds us that we are truly living in a global village. Our “neighbour” is no longer just the person living next door, but includes everyone, everywhere.
We cannot disconnect ourselves from the plight of women and girls who can't socially distance as they draw water from crowded pumps; and we cannot ignore children who can’t frequently wash their hands because water takes so much time to fetch.
Lifewater Canada’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak began in early March, 2020. Lifewater Liberia Inc (L-Linc) proactively took a position of leadership starting work early to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when there were just a few known cases in the country.
In May, Liberia was shut down with the military enforcing a 3 PM curfiew. However, after just 1 week, Lifewater was deemed an essential service and was given special passes to move through military and policy roadblocks. COVID-19 continued to slowly spread in Liberia during the month. While the number of confirmed cases continued to grow to nearly 300, the real concern is the high fatality rate. This may be a sign of the lack of timely, effective medical intervention like patients in Canada receive. But there is also suspicion that the number of actual cases is dramatically higher than reported, particularly in remote "grass hut" villages which lack access to tests.
In June, the Lifewater team continued to host two workshops per week. Workshops utilized participatory lessons and ensured that people observed 6 foot separations. Workshop participants were taught how to:
These key messages were reinforced in June by erecting highway-side Billboards empahasizing social distancing and handwashing. This education promotion was joined by Lifewater radio adds carrying the same messages.
Lifewater's production of surgical masks was ramped-up with the goal of providing every workshop participant with a mask. The long-term plan is to provide masks for Vilage chiefs and Pump Caretakers at all Lifewater wells in Margibi and Montserrado County.
Lifewater continues to closely monitor the COVID situation to ensure that our teams comply with directions from local government and health officials.
The two L-Linc teams increased their efforts to drill wells. The goal is to reduce the number people gathering at any one water supply, reduce wait times, and maximize the amount of water available for handwashing and household sanitation. Lifewater Canada spent tens of thousands of dollars sending rig parts and drilling supplies to Lbieria to ensure that this critical work can continue uninterruped in the months ahead.
Safe water also helps people avoid complications arising from preventable water-borne disease. Our teams maintain community involvement without direct contact. Community members still assist on site, but during the pandemic local people do not provide meals or housing for the drillers, or work alongside the teams as in normal times.
Less than a decade ago, Liberia was the epicenter of the worlds worst-ever Ebola outbreak. People have not forgot the seemingly unstoppable spread and the suffering and death that followed. Many Liberian people are scared with a ominous sense of Deja vu.
But with your help and support, they now have the capacity to understand COVID and have clear actions that will help prevent COVID from devastating their country. Thank-you!