Liberia reeling from Ebola

The Ebola epidemic in Liberia has led to the shutdown of many activities in the West African country.

A state of emergency has been declared, the capital Monrovia is under curfew, schools are closed, only essential government services are being provided and private businesses and offices have scaled back production and services.

The BWA sent an initial sum of US$10,000 to Liberia with additional sums earmarked to counter the growing menace.

"We are struggling through one of the most difficult periods in the history of our country," Justus Reeves, general secretary of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (LBMEC), told a roundtable hosted by the Baptist World Alliance. "Currently Liberia is the epicenter of the Ebola virus on the continent."

Unemployment, which was already 85 percent, got worse with the scaling down of government services. Government is the largest employer in the country.

Reeves said Liberia has only 51 doctors for a population of more than four million. There is a desperate shortage of medical supplies, including medicines for ailments other than Ebola.

Reeves told the BWA roundtable, which included donors and representatives from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, that the "disease has affected every aspect of our lives, politically, socially, economically, even spiritually...everyone lives in terror and fear of each other."

An immediate concern is the threat of hunger.

Liberian Baptists have been engaged in four initiatives: sensitization and education campaigns; the provision of sanitation equipment and materials to churches and communities; food relief; and trauma counseling for families and communities.

Thus far, LBMEC distributed 650 large bags of rice to three counties and 50 bags to a hospital that had run out of food for its patients. In addition to the food distribution, Liberian Baptists are preparing and distributing meals to Ebola patients.

Baptists have been directly affected by the Ebola outbreak, including the families of 25 Baptist pastors. Baptists, including pastors' spouses who are medical professionals and practitioners, have contracted the disease.

On September 8 the World Health Organization warned the number of new cases in Liberia was increasing exponentially. As of September 12, more than 2,000 Ebola cases have been reported in Liberia with more than 1,200 succumbing to the disease.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org or mailed to
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© September 12, 2014

Ebola takes toll on Sierra Leone

The Ebola outbreak has disrupted economic and other activities in Sierra Leone, causing widespread dislocations.

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent a total of US$20,000 to provide food, educational materials for the prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus, as well as materials and equipment to provide adequate sanitation for persons who have been affected by the crisis.

"The Ebola scourge in Sierra Leone is affecting the economy of the state, communities, households and individual family members," Samuel Conteh, coordinator of social ministries for the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone, told the BWA.

The outbreak, which began in March, occurred during the height of the farming season. Agriculture is roughly 58 percent of Sierra Leone's gross domestic product (GDP).

 

"This is the time rice farmers plant their rice fields and plantation (cocoa, coffee, etc.). The outbreak has not only abruptly halted these farming activities, but has also claimed the lives of farmers," Conteh said.

"Some survivors are either quarantined or can no longer frequent their farms or plantations thereby leaving the crops to perish, particularly in epicenters like Kenema, Kailahun and Bo, where the majority of the population depends on rice and plantation farming for their livelihood."

Conteh indicated "that most of the Ebola deaths are in the age brackets of between 15 and 45 years old, which fall within the active labor force, thereby leaving a huge population (children and the aged) as dependents."

As a result, there is food shortage and the price of basic food supplies has skyrocketed. There is urgent need for food, especially for Ebola survivors and orphans. Agricultural supplies for planting the next harvest are also a great need.

The mining sector, the fifth highest contributor to Sierra Leone's GDP, has also been negatively affected. Large mining companies "have all scaled down their activities leading to mass redundancy of a massive work force. Government revenue from this sector has also gone down," Conteh affirmed.

In other areas of the economy, people have been laid off or made redundant. Education is virtually crippled as schools are closed.

The health sector is also severely affected. Approximately 50 medical personnel have died, including three prominent doctors. According to Conteh, persons are fearful of visiting health facilities lest they are labeled as Ebola patients and, as a result, are dying of ailments other than Ebola. Pregnant and nursing mothers are not visiting clinics to receive necessary prenatal and postnatal care. Babies and young children are not receiving necessary immunizations to ward off other infectious diseases.

Church activities have been drastically reduced. "Church attendances are dwindling. Baptist activities are being slowed down, particularly in [the] epicenters. The traditional embracing and handshake among members after church service have disappeared," declared Conteh.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org or mailed to
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© September 10, 2014

Appeal made to Baptists to fight Ebola

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is appealing urgently to Baptists to make generous contributions to help in alleviating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The BWA sent an initial sum of US$5,000 to Sierra Leone to assist in a public education campaign about the disease.

Donations will be used to provide food, educational materials for the prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus, as well as materials and equipment to provide adequate sanitation for persons who have been affected by the crisis.

 

Baptists in Liberia, one of the countries affected, will focus on areas where economic conditions are difficult and are expected to get worse in the weeks and months ahead as the Ebola crisis deepens in the West African country. Those who have been internally displaced and laid off from work since the outbreak will be specially targeted.

Sierra Leone Baptists will assist persons that have been quarantined with food and medical supplies in areas such as Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Lunsar. Other initiatives include sensitization of church members on the signs and symptoms of Ebola, provision of plastic buckets with chlorine and educational workshops on Ebola.

The current Ebola outbreak first began in Guinea in March and has since spread to the bordering countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. By August 20, the World Health Organization reported 2,615 suspected cases of Ebola with 1,427 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org or sent to
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© August 27, 2014

BWA sends aid to displaced Iraqi Christians

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent an initial sum of US$20,000 to assist with Christians displaced inside Iraq.

Funds given by the BWA will be used to help provide food and other urgent relief supplies to approximately 500 Iraqi Christian families who fled Mosul and Karakosh to Irbil city in Kurdistan state.

Christians fled in haste without their possessions, including clothing. Money, jewelry and other valuables were stolen or confiscated.

A sum of US$90 is needed for mattresses, blankets and a two-week food supply for an average family of six persons.  Baptists and other Christian groups providing assistance expect the need to last through several months.

 

 

Mosul, Iraq's second largest metropolitan area after Baghdad is an ancient city in Northern Iraq that has had a significant Christian presence going back almost 2,000 years. Karakosh is in close proximity to Mosul.

Problems faced by Iraqi Christians escalated in June this year with the Northern Iraq offensive, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sometimes referred to as the Islamic State (IS), and aligned forces, began a major offensive in Northern Iraq against the Iraqi government. The same protagonists attacked Kurdish-held territory in Northern Iraq in August.

Christians and other minority religious groups have been specially targeted by IS.  A decree was issued in July that all Christians in the area under IS control, including Mosul and Karakosh, must pay a special tax of approximately US$470 per family, convert to Islam, or leave. It was later announced that all Christians needed to leave or be killed.

Many Christians have fled to Kurdistan.

Christians have been leaving Iraq in droves after the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq. Violence against Christians by radical Islamist groups rose dramatically, including abductions, torture, bombings and killings. Christians were pressured to convert to Islam under threat of death or expulsion, and women were ordered to wear Islamic dress.

By 2007, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis were displaced to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, with a large majority being Christian. Another two million were displaced internally.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org or sent to
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© August 29, 2014

BWA accepts new members

Four new member organizations were accepted into membership of the BWA during the Annual Gathering in Izmir, Turkey, in July.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo now has 13 members after the Baptist Community of the Faithful in Africa, established in 1958 and having 30,146 members in 136 churches, and the Baptist Evangelical Community in Central Africa, formed in 2009 and comprising 40,000 members in 150 churches, were accepted as members.

Ethiopia now has three members with the addition of the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Ethiopia, which has 20,000 members in 49 churches. It was established in 1962.

Chin Baptist Churches USA is the 19th BWA member in the United States. Formed in 2004, it has 8,500 members in 63 churches.

 The Irish Baptist Network was granted associate membership status.

The BWA now has 231 full member organizations in 121 countries and territories.

Baptist World Alliance®
© August 19, 2014