Equipping faith leaders to fight Ebola

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Reducing fear, promoting care and tackling stigma through faith

When Ebola gripped Sierra Leone in 2014, the country fell into panic. With next to no knowledge about this viral disease, rumour mongering and misinformation was rife, and denial of its existence a serious issue.

Battling the stigma associated with Ebola was a big problem, with widespread falsehoods about the disease including that it was God’s punishment, caused by a witch doctor’s curse or was curable by the laying on of hands. 

“Correcting such messages was key to creating the environment required to get Ebola under control,” explains Christo Greyling, Director of Faith Partnerships for Development at World Vision International. 

World Vision decided the best way to get the message across was to use its Channels of Hope (CoH) program. This equips faith leaders trusted by the community with the tools and know-how to give sermons and run workshops on Ebola to reduce fear, promote care and tackle stigma. 

Thirty key Christian, Muslim and other faith leaders were brought together for the training, which covered Bible and Koran teachings on caring for the sick, instruction on disease prevention, and advice about safe funerals. Ebola is most virulent when it leaves a dead victim, but burials in Sierra Leone typically involve washing, clothing and touching the deceased. 

At the end of the training, the 30 faith leaders agreed to work together to tackle Ebola. To show they were in solidarity on this issue, the imams visited the 15 churches, while the pastors visited the 15 mosques. The result? About 5,000 worshippers heard the message, and were encouraged to spread it far and wide. 

 Join us in prayer: 

  • Pray for those who lost family and friends from Ebola.  
  • Thank the Lord for the openness of faith leaders to attend the Channels of Hope training – and for the lives that were saved as a result.