Since the first case of Ebola was reported in April 2014, our partners in Sierra Leone have been in emergency mode. While our philosophy here at Bread and Water for Africa UK has always been to partner with grass-roots organisations for long term change rather than dole out “aid” on an emergency basis – we knew right away that we had a unique opportunity to provide tangible relief to the communities that we had already been working with for nearly ten years, and so Bread and Water for Africa UK began its emergency Ebola response.

Thanks to our UK supporters, we were able to meet initial demands by providing funding for our partners at the Faith Healing Development Organisation to keep their clinics open and continue serving the non-Ebola cases that were being turned away from the major hospitals.

Shortly thereafter, in the late summer and early autumn of 2014, the full consequences of the country-wide quarantines and fear of Ebola became clearer. The Sierra Leonean economy came to a full stop as workers feared contracting Ebola, and workers that were not afraid faced limitations posed by the borders put in place by the quarantine. Farms were un-worked and un-harvested, and the country’s food imports began to cease as other countries placed temporary embargoes on shipping and flight to Sierra Leone. As the food supply diminished, the cost of local food and basic supplies rocketed and quickly became too high for many of the already impoverished citizens of the country. Families faced starvation with few recourses for action.

In response, Bread and Water for Africa UK was able to rally urgent support and, in partnership with Faith Healing Development Organisation, was able to purchase food and basic sanitation necessities in bulk and distribute it to hundreds of families in quarantined communities across the country in August and December of 2014.

Today, Sierra Leone is the only country that still faces emerging cases of Ebola while cases in Guinea and Liberia have plateaued and ultimately ceased. Quarantines are still being placed on districts that exhibit cases of Ebola and the country’s economy is still at a standstill. We continue to seek support for the food distribution that is still the lifeline for so many families.

In early February 2015, Bread and Water for Africa UK also partnered with local organisation, Glocal Forum- Yala Africa for a focused food distribution programme to 30 families in the capital of Freetown to provide relief and also track whether food distribution aid programmes ultimately help enforce the government’s quarantine measures by reducing the need for individuals to leave their homes in search of food.

Sadly, the lifespan of this Ebola epidemic has far outlasted any of our initial expectations. We are carefully monitoring the situation on the ground in Sierra Leone and hope for the day when we can join our partners and begin to rebuild and recover from this horrific crisis.