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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

ChildFund opens first care centre in Liberia for children orphaned by Ebola

ChildFund Liberia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), has opened the first dedicated children`s Interim Care Centre in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, for children who have lost one or both parents to Ebola.

An initial 20 children moved into the centre on Monday, 6 October. Eight Ebola survivors have been recruited as temporary caregivers, and a nurse, social workers and a mental health worker will provide additional support for these children.

“More than 2,000 children have been orphaned by Ebola in Liberia,” said Billy Abimbilla, ChildFund International`s national director for Liberia and Sierra Leone. “In addition to the tragedy of losing parents, these children are being traumatised by the stigma associated with the virus. They have nowhere else to go.”

The centre will provide care, support and protection for affected children for a quarantine period of 21 days from the time they last had close contact with a person diagnosed with Ebola. In addition to housing and meals, the children will be provided with play and reading materials and receive counselling from carers who have survived Ebola and are now immune.

Staff at the centre will closely observe and monitor the children for the development of Ebola symptoms, through twice-daily testing of temperature and using a checklist of symptomology, and take immediate action to refer such children to the nearest Ebola Treatment Unit or Ebola Care Centre as appropriate.

There will also be active tracing of children`s relatives to facilitate family reunification after the quarantine period is over. If extended family are not willing or able to care for the child, alternative options such as foster care will be sought.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said: “The number of children orphaned and stigmatised by Ebola is increasing by the day. A centre like this is critical to provide a protective environment for these children and help them process the grief and trauma they are experiencing.”

The MOHSW together with ChildFund will be establishing additional Interim Care Centres in Liberia to support the increasing number of children orphaned by Ebola.

Additional funds provided by ChildFund Australia will also be used to establish an Interim Care Centre in the hard-hit Bombali district of Sierra Leone.

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