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US/Salone Volunteer Wants Survivors Employed In Fight Against Ebola

DECEMBER 16, 2014  By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

Retired veteran of the United States Army, Saidu Jabbie, proposes that Ebola survivors should be employed at every stage in the fight against the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as this will help them integrate smoothly into their communities.

“I believe Ebola survivors should have a role to play to help eradicate Ebola. This will make their reintegration and community acceptance a lot easier,” says Jabbie, adding that it will also lower stigma associated with the disease.

However, before such employment Jabbie also suggests that survivors should be kept in a safe home for 90 days, provided with three meal course daily, conduct training visits and address the psycho-social impact of the disease.  He says after the 90 days the survivors are released back to their communities (in consultation with other stakeholders) and given roles to play in containing the disease, having been through it all.

“I believe this will not only cut down the chain of transmission in terms of sexual intercourse, but it will also help reinforce the fact that Ebola survivors no longer have Ebola and they are the safest people to be around,” says Jabbie.

Officially there are more than 1,000 Ebola survivors that have been released back to their communities since the disease broke out in the country in May 2014.

Saidu Jabbie’s proposition is informed by more than three months of humanitarian volunteer work in the remote Koinadugu District in the Northern Region of Sierra Leone, where he hailed from. To Jabbie, it’s not enough to say: “I’m a Sierra Leonean, not a virus” or to display the statement on your Facebook page or Whatsapp profile; you need to translate that into action. In October this year, in the midst of all the screaming horror headlines of the Ebola outbreak in his mother land, Jabbie braved it out of his cocoon in the US and travelled to Sierra Leone to volunteer his services as well as his resources in the fight against Ebola.

“It’s unfair if we leave the bulk of the responsibility to foreigners. Yes we need their help, but this is our problem; we should take the lead in finding a lasting solution,” says Jabbie.

Personally, Jabbie donated 50 bags of rice to the Koinadugu Ebola Task Force and one drum of fuel to the Bintumani FM Radio to help the station stay on air and promote sensitization.

In partnership with his friend in the US, Lamin Bah, they provided 15 bales of warm used-clothing which they shared among the people manning the checkpoints at Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom and Sengbe Chiefdom with five bales each. He donated another five bales of used clothing, hand wash buckets and some cooking ingredients to the people of Mongo Chiefdom at the border with Guinea, where he visited to do a need-assessment survey to determine the kind of support that the people in that part required in the fight against Ebola.

Earlier, Jabbie coordinated the donation of USD 5000 from the Koinadugu Ebola Task Force (KETF) in the US to their local counterpart; and the donation of 160 bags of rice from the Koinadugu Sisterhood Movement in the US which was distributed to about 80% of the homes in Kabala town. The KETF also provided Le2.5million as stipend to local volunteer youth, who are manning checkpoints and coordinating safe burials in Kabala.

Travelling with his convoy of bike riders, Jabbie also visited epicenters at Neini Chiefdom, 41 miles from Kabala, and donated another 26 bags of rice at Kumala Town.

During his stay, he worked extensively with the paramount chiefs in the area of enforcement of bye-laws and he initiated a house to house count to determine the household sizes, which data he said would be useful in the allocation of resources donated.

At the end of the year, Jabbie will return to the US where he owns Jabs Group Inc- a tax and accounting service Company, and will volunteer himself on landing for quarantine. This is a safety routine that will keep him away from his family for 21 days.

“I’ll definitely miss my family but that’s a little price to pay when you consider the amount of doctors that have been killed by the disease,” says Jabbie.

He continues: “But at the end of the day, I’ll be proud to say ‘I am a Sierra Leonean, not a virus’ because I have been there and seen it all.”

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