Hope and Healing

Call to Prayer for Those Facing Ebola Crisis

November 19, 2014General

Yesterday we heard the tragic news that Dr. Martin Salia, 44 years old, died of Ebola in Nebraska. Our prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. Dr. Salia was working in Sierra Leone at the Lowell and Ruth Guess Kissy Hospital, which shares the same compound as the Eye Hospital. cbm Canada is a partner with the Eye Hospital and has worked with the Kissy Hospital during this Ebola crisis.

We have heard so much about the effect of Ebola in West Africa. Currently the estimates are over 5,000 reported deaths. There is no other way to say it – this is a crisis! These are the reported victims of Ebola, yet we know that there are so many more and these include the most vulnerable in the community, those with a disability.

One example for me is the Eye Hospital that is part of Kissy Hospital. Normally this unit would be a buzz of activity with diagnoses and treatment of eye diseases, refraction services, and sight-restoring cataract surgeries. Now, because of Ebola, it is shut down. In the life and death struggle of Ebola, preventing blindness is considered a luxury.

cbm has other partners in West Africa. Partners that work together with and in communities, offering home-based services such as physical therapy, outpatient care, training for parents of children with disabilities, and referrals to health care. These much needed services have been discontinued.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand and agree with the temporary shutdown of these services. It is this very hands-on and personal care that our partners do, away from hospitals and sterile Ebola containment units, that creates the most risk in an Ebola crisis. Doctors in personal protection suits are having difficulty protecting themselves. Field workers going to homes in the community would have little chance.

As a result, I can only imagine the effect that Ebola is having on people with disabilities in West Africa – our clients – the most vulnerable and poorest families. The questions running through my mind are how many are still alive? How many have lost care givers? How many are suffering because they don’t have the ongoing daily care they need for quality life?

Many of these people are desperately dependent on others for their very survival, and are extremely vulnerable to isolation even without Ebola ravaging their communities. Ebola will cut off many of our clients from their most basic needs.

How many children, mothers and fathers with a disability are suffering because of Ebola, even though they aren’t infected? These are also victims of this terrible disease, and also need our prayers.

So yesterday when I heard the tragic news of Dr. Salia’s death, my prayers went out for this family. My prayers also go out for the unnamed people with disabilities – living in isolation, in fear, without caregivers, without services.

Can you join me in those prayers?