On Tuesday 10th April, the Swiss-Sierra Leone Development Foundation welcomed three journalists from GEO Magazine, Germany.
The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the mental health effects of the Ebola epidemic, 2 years after Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola transmission. As a result of our work with Ebola affected children who are enrolled at the Magbenteh Community Boarding School, it was a perfect opportunity for us to share our knowledge and project with them.
Despite the students being in Easter holidays, we arranged a visit to Patebana Marank, a village where 60 of our students currently reside and where 119 people died from the Ebola virus; 99 adults, 10 children under the age of 5 and 10 children between the ages of 6 and 15. Each of the 60 students is either an Ebola survivor themselves or they lost all members of their immediate family, and therefore are now cared for by guardians.
Mrs Kanu, the Headteacher of Magbenteh Community Boarding School; together with Michaella the SSLDF Education Officer, and Charlotte the SSLDF Project Coordinator, accompanied the team on the field visit. Upon arrival our students were neatly dressed in their uniforms, eager to return to school on Monday!
The village Chief and the local Community Health Monitor shared with us the impact of the Ebola epidemic on their village and the long -term health problems still suffered by survivors. These include psychological effects due to the traumatic course of the infection, fear of death, the experience of witnessing others dying, depression and anxiety.
The team met with several students and their guardians, including a young student called Ibrahim who now lives with his auntie and cousins after loosing his parents and siblings to the virus.
SSLDF look forward to sharing with you the article which will hopefully be published in the coming weeks.