Monrovia - The deadly Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia is now under control but the aftermath of the virus remains glaring as survivors and many children made orphans are still living with the pain inflicted by the virus.
The Government of Liberia is yet to put in place a comprehensive program that will permanently address some of the problems facing these victims of the outbreak. Some groups and organizations continue to make individual contributions to help those affected by the virus. The Liberia Coca Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC) and the Africa Coca Cola Foundation (ACCF) in partnership with Business Link Humanitarian Aid Wednesday identified with Ebola survivors and orphans through an Economic Recovery program initiated by the two institutions. Speaking to a team of reporters during a tour at school facilities and market places where goods were purchased for the women, the Director of Business Link Humanitarian Aid, Madam Edwina Vakun-Lincoln, said that the empowerment initiative is the organizations own way of contributing to nations’ post Ebola recovery plan. During the tour, school fess for several children in the slum Township of West Point, who were made orphans during the Ebola outbreak were paid and many women received assorted goods for business empowerment. Madam Vakun-Lincoln stated that the program started during the heat of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in the country when Business Link Humanitarian Aid began looking out for funding from different donor organizations in 2014. She indicated that the initiative is targeting 100 women who will be educated on how to build their capacities after Ebola by becoming self-sufficient. The Business Link Humanitarian Aid CEO mentioned that the initiative was launched sometimes last year at the Monrovia City Hall in partnership with the Liberia Coca Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC) and the Africa Coca Cola Foundation (ACCF) as main donors of the project to help Ebola survivors develop their potentials. According to her there are 300 Ebola survivors under the project who were directly affected by the virus ether by losing their husbands or children that may have been breadwinners for their families. The Business Link Humanitarian Aid boss noted that the current project is focusing on Montserrado County stating that the county has been divided into four sectors and that they are working with network of Ebola survivors in each sector. “We move from community to community profiling people. After the profiling, we have a selection committee which the MGCSP is a part of and send the names to the Ministry of Health for verification on whether those profiled are survivors. We have been training them but today is distribution. We are not giving cash to them. We hope to extend in other counties,” she among others said. Also speaking, the Public Affairs & Communications Manager at LCCBC, Victor George, said he was impressed with the selection process and with the kind of schools benefitting from the project. He said their sponsorship of the project is just to sell the drinks company. For his part, the President of the National Network of Ebola Survivors, Mr. Patrick Ferret used the occasion to call other organizations claiming to be identifying with Ebola survivors to come out physically like Business Link Humanitarian Aid, LCCBC and ACCF. The items distributed included 747 bags of rice, 159 tins of cooking oil, 6 bags of flour, 130 cartoons of assorted soap and 56 bales of used clothes. Other items distributed included were 124 bales of lappas, 16 bales of slippers, 84 cartoons of frozen food items and and 127 girls school fees are going to be paid as part of the initiative, four hundred women are to benefit from micro-finance. “At Business Link, we have already been doing microfinance so the coming of LCCBC and the ACCF is to buttress our effort on how to go out to more people. Several people will benefit from this project”, she disclosed. Training for female survivors The group is also looking into the area of providing training for Ebola survivors. On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Business Link Humanitarian Aid — the nonprofit extension of Business Link Inc a business development/support Firm — began the training of impoverished female survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), and affected women on Introduction to Entrepreneurship, basic Dos and don'ts, basic sales analysis, Communication, Customer Relations and ethics, Money Management, personal hygiene, motivation etc. The project — sponsored by the Liberia Coca Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC) and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MoGSP), the Ebola Virus Disease Survivors Network, and Unions and Community Leaders — is targeting a total of 1,000 female survivors and affected women of the Ebola Virus Disease, and 500 girls left orphaned by EVD. At the end of an interactive three days training sessions, impoverished female EVD survivors who have successfully completed the training are being provided with goods/products for their various businesses at the market value of US$200, and the affected women are being provided goods/products at the market value of US $150. The orphaned girls from the first group of trainees will have their school fees at the maximum amount of US$150, paid directly to their respective schools. Likewise, Business Link Humanitarian Aid will continue to offer its services to the orphan girls, and survivors and affected women and their various businesses to promote their empowerment and success well beyond the duration of the project.