MONROVIA, Montserrado – The deadly Ebola virus which struck Liberia last March and killed over 3,000 people seems to have vanished as the country has been declared Ebola free. Despite the disappearance of the virus from Liberia, it has left a severe toll on children who lost either one or both parents to the virus.
Lydia Sherman, Deputy Minister for Children Protection at the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection told The Bush Chicken that the government of Liberia, as of May 4, identified and documented 4,572 orphans across the country.
According to their statistics, there are 2,200 boys and 2,372 girls who have become orphans due to Ebola. She said the United Nations Children Education Fund supported the government initially to assist 2,500 orphans.
She said these children have received US$150 each, which is a one-time donation from UNICEF through the Government of Liberia.
Sherman noted that a total of 2,282 orphans have so far received assistance while the payments for the other 218 orphans is in process.
The number of orphans is higher than expected because, as Sherman notes, the Ministry is using a broad definition of orphans – including both semi and full orphans in its tally. She defined semi-orphans as children who casino online lost one biological parent while full orphans are those children who lost both parents.
According to Sherman, the Government of Liberia is targeting about 7,000 affected children across the country. She added that “support will also be extended to an additional 4,500 children.”
“UNICEF has been able to hire 120 social workers for the government, and they are in the field locating these affected children on a daily basis,” Sherman said.
Sherman said one major challenge to her department is the issue of educational support for the orphans.
“We are trying to strengthen the partnership with the Ministry of Education to have these affected children in school,” he said.
Sherman indicated that in rural Liberia, Ebola-affected children find it very difficult to be in school because of the distances between towns and villages.
Affected children are also receiving psychosocial counseling and case management care from the government.
Janice Cooper, the Director of Psychosocial Counseling, working closely with the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection confirmed the report.
Cooper said the World Bank is also assisting each of the orphans with US$25 every month.
“We hope that the Government of Liberia can put some money into the next budget to help these children,” Cooper said.“There are still more affected children out there and we hope to assist them.”
She said that in the case where these affected children”s family members are incapable of taking care of them, the government will send them to the SOS Children Village, a child care center in Liberia.
Featured image courtesy of USAID