An Ebola Tsunami
Written by Adrienne Blomberg, International Board member of Micah Network living and working in Liberia with her husband Winston. Adrienne was the former Director of Siam Care in Thailand.
Ebola is all around and influencing every aspect of life; it is what we talk about all day, it is what we think about, it is what we hear about on the radio non-stop, it is what we worry about, it is what we plan our next move around, it is what the newspapers are filled with, it is what our prayer times and petitions are about, it is what those who grieve are grieving about, it is what the new orphans know all about, it is what the myths and tales going around are about, …...... in short it is about what dominates our lives at the moment.
Liberia as a country is going through a tremendous traumatic time and this trauma, even once it is over will take a long.... and I mean LONG time to get back on its feet.
Ebola has affected every aspect of society: economy, health care, education, family life, community life, work/jobs, food, traditions, religion.... everything. Nothing is normal, nothing is automatic, we think about everything we do:
• no I won't try on that shirt even if I'd like to buy it, who knows who tried it on before me
• oops, I wanted to flip your earring back into your ear, but no touching
• your are sweating - are you just hot or getting sick
• oh my little neighbour friend, thank you for running to me for a hug but stop right there where you are, no hugging
• yes I'd like for you to come and visit me but let’s wait till after Ebola
.... and so the list continues.
I was thinking about the time of the Tsunami that hit Thailand (and Southeast Asia) in 2004. Three waves hit in succession. After the first one, everyone was in shock but before they could really look around and take stock a second wave hit, it was only a matter of seconds, minutes maybe but it wreaked havoc. Those who survived were dazed, called out for loved ones, looked around at the destruction done, started climbing down trees, rooftops..... then a third wave
hit. Now they decided to stay where they were if the place was more or less safe, who knew what else was coming........! Rescue workers found 'frozen' people on hills and mountains, not willing to move for fear, large parts of the nation were severely traumatised, then the rebuilding started. I can't quite remember how long the tsunami lasted all together but less than a full morning – yet I remember how long it took to rebuild after that devastation. Rebuilding roads and buildings was one thing, rebuilding livelihoods another. Rebuilding lives was a whole different story.
In Liberia, the waves of Ebola have continued to come in over the country, they come from all directions, sometimes unexpected, and constantly we have to be on watch. We can't function in automatic mode any longer; no handshaking, no comforting hug to a widow, no spontaneous helping someone who is sick etc. etc......
How long will it take to restore the aftermath? Right now we can't even think about restoration, right now all we think about is stopping the waves, turning the tide and that is not an easy task. I still believe it can be done but it needs lots of work on all fronts; myths and superstitious beliefs will have to be tackled, denial and behaviour change will need to be met and wrestled with, traditional and religious harmful practises passed down over generations will have to be stopped, more treatment centres will have to be opened, more (food) support for those contacts who need to quarantine themselves will need to be available.....and again the list continues.
Oh Lord have mercy on this country!”
Let us stand with Adrienne and Winston as they serve in Liberia and pray for all who are involved in responding and surviving to this terrible outbreak. Commit to intercede daily and be willing to act as God leads in responding.
Women of Hope International have put together a prayer calendar
covering 21 Days of Prayer for ebola, from October 11th - 31st. Please download, use and share this resource with your colleagues.