KELOWNA – A Kelowna based charity that has worked in Liberia for over 15 years is turning its attention to the Ebola outbreak that’s killed over 1500 people in West Africa.
Hope for the Nations, which typically focuses on children at risk, is taking steps to mitigate the impacts of the deadly disease.
“The reality of it is we just need to step up and do something because the lives are at risk right now,” says executive director Patrick Elaschuk.
Country director Karen Barkman says all aspects of life in Liberia are being impacted by the outbreak and food is scarce so the charity has begun distributing rice.
“Borders have been closed. Businesses are running at a very slow pace, most of them have closed. Schools are closed,” says Barkman.
“If they can have their basic care taken care of, their daily nutrition [and] their daily needs, they are more able to manage themselves, their families and their communities so that’s a huge first step,” says Elaschuk.
Hope for the Nations is also setting up sanitizing stations to try to prevent the deadly virus from spreading.
“This is a country where the health infrastructure was already weak due to poverty [and] due to years of civil war in this country and so it wasn’t prepared at all for this type of a horrific virus that cannot seem to be contained,” says Barkman.
On Friday, the World Health Organization listed 1300 confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola cases in Liberia.