Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A huge step forward: OICCs Operational

“Not everybody who sees this will realise just how hard it might be to secure such a letter.” The letter in question is the Certificate of Authorisation in Port Loko. In this post we’re going to try and give you an insight in to how important this single piece of paper is for our ambitions in combatting Ebola. This letter enables us to do so much of what we have wanted to do, but as yet have not been able to.

As we hope that you’ve gathered by now, we have 3 phases of our Ebola programme:

Phase 1: Ensure security of students and staff on our sites from Ebola.

Phase 2: Continue the education of our students that are on and off site.

Phase 3: Provide for the orphans of Ebola by preparing for their integration in to EducAid schools.

Up until this point, we have not had a single case of Ebola on any of our school sites – by restricting movement to only absolutely necessary travel, and educating our staff and student population for the rare occasions that travel is necessary, we have achieved this feat. This is an on-going phase, and will not be complete until Ebola is eradicated from Sierra Leone in totality. Phase 2 is in full swing. We are recording lessons on to mp3 players, distributing the lessons by WhatsApp, Bluetooth, and any other means possible. We estimate that we’re reaching over 100 students per week, and many others that are not formally part of our network. Phase 3 is now beginning to get in to swing, and the letter mentioned at the top of this post is essential to enabling us to effect real change on the ground.

That letter means that we are able to fully open our Interim Care Centre (ICC) for low-risk orphans, and Observational interim Care Centre (OICC) for at-risk orphans. Here is a brief overview of what each centre will do:

Observational Interim Care Centre – Rolal

The OICC will be taking in the at-risk orphans of Ebola. Up to 24 children needing close medical observation will be accommodated in the smallest groups possible, for example 8 groups of 3. Medical observation will include temperature checking every 3 hours and close observation for any other symptoms. If spotted, an immediate isolation can be achieved and the children will be taken for treatment, maximising their chances of survival. The small groups mean that if one student is diagnosed with Ebola, we do not have to hold back the entire group for a further 21 days – only the children within the same group need to re-start their quarantine period.

EducAid Rolal has isolated one school building and freed up a 10 room staff quarters block for an OICC. A new latrine has been constructed so that the OICC will be self-contained, and some minor adjustments have been made to doors and windows to ensure it’s security.

As soon as children have cleared 21 days, they will be free to go to another home and restart life. Some may want to go back to their communities if they are confident that they will be cared for well there. Some, knowing the poverty in their families, will prefer to stay in EducAid and go to school and make their home with us, only visiting the family periodically.

The centre will be staffed by trained survivors including some nurses. Our newly recruited ‘survivor’ staff were being trained by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) last week and have been operating since Monday.

We anticipate being able to help at least 30 children a month to re-enter society safely.

Interim Care Centre – Maronka

In addition to the Observation ICC for high-risk cases, we have been running an ICC for low risk but vulnerable children. These might be children who have no carer since their parents died. They may well have already been through quarantine and have in any case not had recent contact with any Ebola sufferer.

There will be far less need for medical observation but temperatures will be checked each day. The children will mingle more normally but stay away from the rest of the village and school until they have cleared 21 days without symptoms, at which point they will be free to join one of the EducAid schools.

Maronka has a teacher training centre that is far away from the rest of the school and has been fenced off. There are latrines on site and water will be brought to the centre by the school community.

We expect to be able to bring at least 25 children in every 21 days. There are currently 29 residents and as some leave others will come. 10 came in yesterday from a community that lost 82 people to Ebola a few months ago.


Neither of these projects would have been possible without the authorisation of the local authorities, so we are hugely thankful to everyone that has made it possible for us to achieve this. We know that we are in a great position to cut out Ebola from the very earliest stage, reducing each sufferer’s impact to the bare minimum. With a coordinated local approach to the fight on Ebola, we are sure that we can get it done.

As you can imagine we are severely in need of financial support. All of our programmes are draining the resources of the charity and without the appropriate funding in place our effectiveness will be reduced.

Please consider increasing your direct debit this Christmas, or giving a one off donation.

We are fighting for a life #AfterEbola, please help.

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