Rotarians are supporting the efforts of a St Andrews post graduate to provide a vital relief to families experiencing the horrors of Ebola.
Zik Conteh, from Sierra Leone, spoke to a group from St Andrews Rotaract, and St Andrews and Kilrymont Rotary Clubs.
He was able to give a personal account of the difficulties, cruelties and hardship faced in his home country as a result of the Ebola epidemic, which has so far killed more than 8000 people, mainly in west Africa.
His heartbreaking reports of the devastation caused by this deadly disease – which has so far killed more than 8000 people, including around 3000 in Sierra Leone – prompted members of St Andrews Rotary Club to support households in one small village.
Hamish Tait, chairman of the club’s international committee, said: “We are all familiar with the images on television of health workers clad in protective clothing, of the various health facilities dealing with the victims and the awful pictures of dealing with the dead.
“Zik focussed on an issue we don’t hear much about – the impact of quarantine.
‘‘When a case of Ebola is identified, the household is put into quarantine for three weeks during which time they cannot get out to obtain even basic supplies.
“And if another member of the family falls victim, the period of quarantine is extended for a further three weeks, and so on.
“Although we had already donated £1000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal to support the various organisations dealing with the crisis, the members felt there was an urgent need to give assistance and asked Zik for advice on what could be done.”
Zik came up with a small project, costing £1000, working with an organisation called MasterPeace Club Sierra Leone, to deliver supplies to affected households to a small village outside Freetown, where 90 people have already been lost to the deadly virus.
He’s been back in touch with the club to report food and supplies have been successfully delivered to many affected families, and highlighted one particular story about an old woman.
Zik said: “She lost her daughter and her son-in-law over the past two weeks. She now has to take care of her three grandchildren who survived.
“They had not had food for two days.
‘‘Thanks to our intervention, they received a double package that includes two bags of rice and other condiments.
“This should keep them alive for the next two months. Stories like this made me and my team shed tears. The community really appreciated your act of kindness.”
In turn, the rotary club has passed on its thanks for the support from the community of St Andrews which allowed the members to engage in this project.